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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, February 28th (All times eastern)

Denver Nuggets (39-19) at Los Angeles Lakers (44-15), 3:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The two top teams in the Western Conference clash Sunday when the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers host the Northwest Division-leading Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.

While it's still early, LA and Denver certainly look like the class of the West again and a rematch of last year's conference finals, which the Lakers won in six games en route to their 15th NBA championship, could be on the horizon.

The Nuggets came into this season with the intent of solving the Lakers puzzle and have done so thus far, taking their two contests against LA, including an emphatic 126-113 triumph at Staples Center earlier this month.

That win was just the third time in 24 tries that Denver has beaten the Lakers in LA since Kobe Bryant arrived on the scene in 1996-97.

Most recently, the Lakers rebounded from a 101-96 loss at Dallas when Pau Gasol posted 23 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Bynum added 20 and 13, as LA pulled away late in the fourth quarter for a 99-90 victory over Philadelphia on Friday.

Bryant ended with 19 points and eight assists, while Lamar Odom scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

"I think we were looking past this game to the Denver game on Sunday," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "Kobe played a lackluster game. He's still searching to find a rhythm in his game."

The Nuggets, meanwhile, won their third straight game on Friday when Chauncey Billups ended with 25 points and Carmelo Anthony chipped in 24, as Denver ended a seven-game losing streak to the Pistons with a 107-102 victory at the Pepsi Center.

J.R. Smith and Joey Graham came off the bench to score 15 and 13 points, respectively, for the Nuggets. Arron Afflalo had 14 points for Denver, which outscored the Pistons, 29-14, at the foul line.

"I thought our bench did a great job of keeping us in the game," Denver head coach George Karl said. "Fortunately, 'Melo and Chauncey made some big plays down the stretch."

Power forward Kenyon Martin missed the win over the Pistons with a left knee contusion and is questionable for today's game.

02/28 10:32:25 ET


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