Kobe Bryant contorts his body to shoot over Nuggets defender JaVale McGee. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
For the second time this season, the Lakers (28-29) will visit the Denver Nuggets (35-23) on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Lakers previously lost the day after Christmas in Denver after winning the first meeting at Staples Center on November 30.
The Nuggets also won in Los Angeles on January 6, an especially costly game for the Lakers. Jordan Hill suffered the season-ending hip injury, Gasol was concussed by JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard re-aggravated his shoulder.
Now the Lakers come into Denver on a three-game winning streak but they'll have to beat a team that has lost three games at home all season.
JaVale McGee doesn't start for the Nuggets but he'll certainly be used by Coach George Karl to counter Dwight Howard with his height, length and athleticism.
McGee is averaging 10 points and 4.8 rebounds a game this year along with 1.9 blocks in just 18.7 minutes a game. The Nuggets start Kosta Koufos who is also having a solid year for the Nuggets.
Howard played relatively light minutes (32 1/2) against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday with foul trouble. Playing in Denver the next night will still be a test for Howard who says he is still trying to play himself into shape after his April back surgery.
The Nuggets have many, many weapons including Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson and Andre Miller but one player who always seems to be a problem off the bench for the Lakers is Corey Brewer.
Brewer is a strong defender and capable spot-up shooter. Brewer notched his season high on December 26 against the Lakers with 27 on 6-7 shooting from three-point range.
Antawn Jamison has evolved into a very steady offensive presence for the Lakers off the bench. Denver is a high-scoring team - the Lakers are going to need bench production.
The Lakers are playing some of their best basketball of the season but teams league-wide rarely win in Denver on the second night of back-to-backs.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.