Wednesday, March 6 at 10:30 PM ET
Two struggling teams collide on Wednesday when the Denver Nuggets visit the Los Angeles Lakers. Both squads have lost their last three games but that's all they have in common, as they're heading in opposite directions in this NBA season. The Nuggets are just two games behind the Warriors for first place in the Western Conference while the Lakers are pretty much out of chances to reach the playoffs.
Lakers Fall Apart
Following wins by the Spurs and Kings earlier in the day, the Lakers' chances to reach the playoffs became even more dismal and last night's 113-105 loss to the Clippers pretty much puts an end to their season.
The Lakers tried to come back late but Kyle Kuzma went down with a non-contact ankle injury and that deflated them. With the loss, the Lakers are now five and a half games behind the eighth seed Spurs.
After the loss, FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO projection dropped the Lakers down to only a one percent chance to make the playoffs and FiveThirtyEight's pure ELO forecast gives them a less than one percent chance.
Rajon Rondo posted his first triple-double of the season with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, filling Brandon Ingram's role of secondary playmaker to LeBron James, who had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists but the rest of the team's depleted roster didn't help much.
Kuzma Ruled Out
The Nuggets have a lot to play for and facing them when they've lost three straight games is not the ideal scenario for a Lakers team that will be without Kyle Kuzma, who's been ruled out with a sprained ankle while Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Tyson Chandler (neck) and Lance Stephenson (toe) are questionable.
The key to this game for the Lakers will be getting off to a strong start and it all comes down to Rajon Rondo, he has to run the offense and make plays early on, the Nuggets trailed the Spurs 36-17 at the end of the first quarter of their 104-103 road loss in San Antonio last Tuesday and they couldn't complete their comeback.
Not having Kuzma and with Ingram questionable means that the Lakers need Rondo to score early and often but is hard to trust them here, I see a Nuggets team looking to put the Lakers away early, so I like them in the first half.
NBA Pick: Nuggets 1st Half -2.5 (-115) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON