Lakers guard Kobe Bryant steals the ball from Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers finished last week in eighth place in the Western Conference but suffered a two-game losing streak midway through the week. It took a big victory in Dallas to return them to eighth, with a 7-7 record. The team remains just one win behind predictions for Weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4.
This week may be the best opportunity for the Lakers to turn the corner.
Coach Mike D'Antoni took over just in time for four games in five nights. The pace should yield results on the floor, in what could be the team's first perfect week of the season.
The following is a breakdown of the Lakers Week 5 schedule (through Sunday):
Nov. 27 vs. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers always seem to give the Lakers a challenge, but they've been struggling recently, with forward Danny Granger sidelined by a knee injury.
Last year, Indiana was one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers are better than their 6-8 record, but they're still searching for an identity.
They'd love to come into Los Angeles to find it.
David West is the team's leading scorer at 16.6 points a game. The team also gets double-digit scoring from Paul George (15.2) and George Hill (13.4). Center Roy Hibbert has struggled, especially from the field (37.9%), but he's averaging 3.1 blocks a game along with 8.6 rebounds.
This is a game the Lakers should win, at home, but may struggle to do so.
Nov. 30 vs. Denver Nuggets
After a slow start, the Nuggets have been a force, winning four straight. Of all the games in Week 5, this one is the most dangerous for the Lakers.
Denver is loaded with athletes, led by Andre Iguodala (15.6 points a game), Ty Lawson (13.1) and Kenneth Faried (12.9 points and 11.5 rebounds). Forward Danilo Gallinari is a capable scorer (15.4 points) but has struggled to find his shot.
Center JaVale McGee is a wild card for Denver, especially against Dwight Howard in the middle.
The Nuggets are deep, well-coached and determined to beat the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
It's going to take the Lakers' best game of the week to get the victory.
Dec. 2 vs. Orlando Magic
All things considered, Orlando isn't that bad after trading Howard to the Lakers over the summer. Forward/guard Arron Afflalo, one of the key pieces the Magic got in return (via Denver), is leading the team in scoring, at 15.3 points a game.
Orlando has six players averaging close to double figures, including Glen Davis (14.9), J.J. Redick (14.8), Jameer Nelson (12.9) E'Twaun Moore (10.8) and Nikola Vucevic (9.8).
Josh McRoberts will make his return to Staples Center, the lone former Laker on the Orlando roster.
At 5-8, Orlando isn't one of the higher-scoring teams in the league. The Magic will need to play their best game to challenge the home team.
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