Nuggets at Lakers
If the Denver Nuggets are going to make the playoffs, they will have to perform well on the road. The Nuggets begin a closing stretch loaded with road games when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday in the rematch of a recent chippy affair in Denver.
The Nuggets finished off a 2-1 homestand with a 130-104 rout of Sacramento on Sunday and remain tied with two other teams in the race for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they play 10 of their final 15 contests on the road, where they are 11-20. "It's great when you can build the lead and sustain that lead," Denver coach Michael Malone told reporters after the win over the Kings. "We were able to do that tonight and obviously for what we have in mind, what our goals are, to be a playoff team, you need to do that." The Lakers fell 125-116 at Denver on Friday in a game that ended with coach Luke Walton yelling at Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, but they bounced back to coast past Cleveland on Sunday. Julius Randle scored 36 points on 14-of-18 shooting as Los Angeles improved to 15-7 in its last 22 games.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, Altitude (Denver), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (37-30): Nikola Jokic notched his seventh triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the win over the Kings as Denver led by as many as 36 points. "Long overdue for a blowout like that," forward Paul Millsap told reporters after the Nuggets' most lopsided victory since Nov. 17. Gary Harris and Murray also hit the 20-point mark for Denver, which carries a 5-16 road record against conference opponents into the Staples Center.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (30-36): Los Angeles will be beginning a back-to-back that also involves a visit to Golden State on Wednesday and coach Luke Walton is electing to give standout forward Brandon Ingram - who has missed five straight games with a strained groin - both games off before he is re-evaluated. Randle is averaging 22.4 points with Ingram out and Brook Lopez has posted 21.2 points per game in the same stretch while making at least 10 field goals in each of the last three contests. "We're just connecting at both ends, and we're able to really establish the way that we want to play," Randle told the media. "It's been great."
1. Jokic is averaging 25.7 points over his last three games after posting an average of 7.3 over his previous three.
2. Lakers PG Lonzo Ball recorded his second career triple-double in the first meeting with the Nuggets at Los Angeles on Nov. 19, leading his team to a 127-109 victory.
3. The Lakers are 7-12 at home against the West.