October 5, 2013; Ontario, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Blake (5) moves the ball against the defense of Golden State Warriors point guard Toney Douglas (0) during the second half at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Lakers: Game Preview


Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers won their first preseason game since October 22, 2010 — they had lost their previous ten preseason games. In a come-from-behind win, Xavier Henry led the Lakers with his 29 points and 7 rebounds to beat the Golden State Warriors 104-95. Tonight, the Lakers play the Denver Nuggets, and try to build off of last night’s win.

Injuries:

Steve Nash — Available. Nash is in the same position as Pau Gasol. Coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want Nash playing huge minutes in the preseason. Nash, who is the oldest active player in the league, went through a rough season last year with injuries. D’Antoni wants to be careful with Nash’s minutes this season.

Pau Gasol — Available. Gasol didn’t play last night, but that was Mike D’Antoni and Gasol being cautious. After last season’s injuries, the Lakers are going to try and keep Gasol as healthy as possible.

Chris Kaman — Out. While Gasol and Nash didn’t play in the first game, Kaman is going to miss the second night of the back-to-back for the same reasons. Kaman said that he wants to pace himself during the preseason.

Ryan Kelly — Out. Kelly may not play at all this preseason because of a leg injury. However, there have been reports that Ryan Kelly is getting better, and could be practicing in a few days.

Kobe Bryant — Out. Due to a torn Achilles, Kobe Bryant will not be playing this preseason.

Projected Starting Line-up

Point Guard — Steve Nash

Shooting Guard — Nick Young

Small Forward — Wesley Johnson

Power Forward — Jordan Hill

Center — Pau Gasol

X-Factor:

The X-factor in last night’s game was Xavier Henry. Tonight, the game-changer will be the return of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. The offense last night was potent with 104 points, but it can be even better tonight with Nash and Gasol. Although both guys are expected to only play about 20 minutes, I’m excited to see how Gasol plays because he is going to be in the post a lot more than last year. It’s only preseason, but it’ll be interesting to see if Gasol comes out with a chip on his shoulder.

Prediction: 

Tonight’s outcome doesn’t matter. The only things that matters is players like Nash and Gasol some playing time without them getting hurt, seeing how the young guys play, and how the team works together. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Xavier Henry tonight. Will he start? Is he a one hit wonder? A win is always nice, but that isn’t what tonight is about.

Denver 95, Lakers 100

Tags: Chris Kaman Denver Nuggets Featured Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol Popular Ryan Kelly Steve Nash Xavier Henry