It is a Western Conference showcase today on ABC and the top two teams in the conference will square off on the back end of the double-header.
The Denver Nuggets (39-19) head to the Staples Center for the second time this season to take on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (44-15). The Nuggets are just 4.5 games back from the Lakers for the top seed in the west and they will be looking to close the gap by another game today when they tip-off at 1:30 pm MDT.
The Nuggets have taken the first two games this year against the defending champions and on Feb. 5 they defeated the Lakers at the Staples Center 126-113 without the help of then injured Carmelo Anthony. Chauncey Billups had a career high 39 points in the game and J.R. Smith came off the bench to add another 27 points.
The first match up of the year on Nov. 13 saw the Nuggets completely dominating a Pau Gasol-less Lakers team 105-79.
With the Nuggets up on the Lakers a combined 39 points so far this season many people believe they are poised to take down the Lakers in the playoffs later this season, and the Nuggets floor-general is no exception.
“We’re 2-0 against them in the season but that’s still the best team in the Western Conference, there’s no question about that,” said Billups. “They’re the world champs but we feel that we can compete with them, we just really feel that way.”
The Nuggets will get another chance to prove their dominance immediately following the Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs game. Denver is coming in winners of 16 of their last 21 games.
NUGGETS NOTE: KENYON QUESTIONABLE
Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin is questionable for today’s game with a left-knee contusion that sidelined him for Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons. He suffered the injury in the first half of Thursday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets are just 2-4 without Martin in the lineup so far this year and if he is unable to go today it would be a big loss for the Nuggets who need all of their bigs to compete for rebounds with Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.