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News » Nuggets are primed to tangle with Lakers

Nuggets are primed to tangle with Lakers

Nuggets are primed to tangle with Lakers Ty Lawson has played as many regular-season games against the Los Angeles Lakers as, well, you have, dear reader. But ask Lawson about the Lakers, and he sounds like, well, you again.

Dude wants to beat L.A.

"I'm already ready to beat the Lakers - it's a rivalry," the Nuggets' rookie point guard said this week. "We've got to set a tone early. Last year they beat us in the Western Conference finals, so this year, we're going to set the tone that we're not taking it this year - we're going to get this win."

If Lawson feels this way, imagine how his teammates feel. The Lakers return to the Pepsi Center tonight for the first time since seizing the Western Conference crown last May, and while tonight's game is one of 82, "it's a game against the world champions, so it's going to mean a little something more," Denver's Chauncey Billups said. "But it's not like we have to win the game or else we're done."

Tonight's game should have some postseason zeal, because the Nuggets -Lakers preseason games did. It was a few weeks ago in San Diego, when the Lakers' Lamar Odom and the Nuggets' Chris Andersen had to be separated on the court, and the purple-proud crowd began chanting "Bird-man!" - followed by words that weren't very nice.

As for the Nuggets , they've returned to Denver after 11 days in six cities. The Nuggets (6-3) went 3-3 during the exhausting excursion and took Thursday off, hoping to steal some sleep so they're not sleep-walking tonight.

Nuggets newcomer Arron Afflalo will have the honors of guarding (or trying to guard) Kobe Bryant, according to Denver coach George Karl. Afflalo, an L.A. native, provides a defensive spunk the Lakers hope to counter with their newcomer, Ron Artest, who turns 30 tonight. The versatile but volatile forward has said all the right things since arriving in La-La Land, and he entered Thursday averaging 12 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

Tonight's game will have enough marquee matchups to make an onlooker dizzy, but if there's one to focus on, it's Artest against Carmelo Anthony.

"The Lakers have a good way at zoning (Anthony) up - he's not playing against one guy very often," Karl said. "For me, Melo is a simple theory. Big guy on him, go outside; little guy on him, go inside. Get as many baskets and touches in transitions as you can."

The Lakers likely will be without all-star Pau Gasol (hamstring), who has been day to day since the season began, a blessing for the Nuggets , considering how Bucks post Andrew Bogut dominated Denver on Wednesday as if he were Gasol.

"The Lakers are a difficult team to beat without Gasol," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said, "so when they get Gasol back, it's obviously a championship-type team, no question about it."

Karl was asked this week whether this Nuggets team can be better than last season's, the team that lost to the Lakers in six games.

"We have a chance to be better than last year," Karl said. "I think there's an excitement and a maturity to it."

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 14, 2009


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