NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 27th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (48-10) at Denver Nuggets (38-20), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The streaking Los Angeles Lakers shoot for their seventh consecutive win Friday as they take to the court in the Rocky Mountains against the homestanding Denver Nuggets in a battle of division leaders.
The Lakers, who are running away with the Pacific Division, earned their sixth straight triumph in LA on Thursday when Kobe Bryant scored 22 points and had eight assists as the Lakers shut down the Phoenix Suns, 132-106.
It was the first game between the teams since ex-Laker teammates Bryant and Suns center Shaquille O'Neal garnered co-MVP honors at the All-Star Game earlier this month. O'Neal was limited to 12 points and seven rebounds as Phoenix, minus Steve Nash, lost to the Lakers for a third time in as many meetings this season. Nash sat out with a right ankle injury.
Lamar Odom tallied 23 points and nine boards, and Pau Gasol totaled 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have won all six games coming out of the All-Star break to run their record to a league-best 48-10 and are now 15 1/2 games in front of the Suns in the Pacific.
LA set a season-high with 54 field goals made in the game, shooting 57.4 percent. Odom was 11-of-12 from the field.
The Lakers will finish a quick two-game road trip in Phoenix on Sunday.
The Northwest Division-leading Nuggets, meanwhile, will be finishing up a three-game homestand tonight.
Denver, which is 2 1/2 games in front of Portland for the division lead, managed to stop a season-high three-game skid on Wednesday when Flip Murray's shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim, as Denver, fueled by Chauncey Billups' 33 points, held on for a 110-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Billups added seven assists, while Carmelo Anthony finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, which improved to 21-7 at home.
Off the bench for the Nuggets, Chris Andersen had 12 rebounds and seven points, while J.R. Smith scored 14 points.
Denver center Nene missed his second straight game against the Hawks with a bruised right knee and is expected to remain out of action for one more week.
The Lakers, who are 21-6 away from Staples Center, have taken five straight over the Nuggets, including two meetings this season.
02/27 10:42:07 ET