Danilo Gallinari the Denver Nuggets (2-1) are hoping to get back on track when they take on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (2-2) at the Staples Center on Saturday, but Denver will have to deal with the return of Lakers big man Andrew Bynum. He will make his season debut after serving his league-mandated suspension for toppling Dallas' J.J Barea in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs last season. The Lakers opened the season in a disappointing and somewhat alarming fashion, dropping games to the Chicago Bulls and the Sacramento Kings, but have since player much better in consecutive wins against the Utah Jazz and the New York Knicks. After opening the season with a grueling stretch of four games in five days, the Lakers have now rested two of their last three days heading into tonight's game. The only player everyone thought would need the extra rest, Kobe Bryant, has actually scored well in the early season, notching at least 25 points in every game.
As for the Nuggets, they have been dropping off in their level of play after a great start to the season. Ty Lawson has been one of the most impressive players on the roster so far this year, as he is averaging 22.3 points, 3 assists and 4 steals per game in early regular season play. One problem area has been the shooting and general play of Arron Afflalo, but fellow big-money signing Nene has also been a bit underwhelming, as explained by the staff at Denver Stiffs:
Arron Afflalo continues to struggle with his shooting percentages. He is not in game shape whatsoever, and it's very clear that his lack of success shooting the ball has got to him. He performed much better tonight than the last two games so he will be fine, but the Nuggets needed his accuracy. Nene struggled again, and reverted back to the frustrating Nene we all scream at the TV about. You know - DUNK IT....DUNK THAT BALL - and we should probably accept that this is who Nene is and will always be. Timofey Mozgov was again basically a non-factor in this game. Foul trouble early took him out.
The Nuggets will be hoping to end 2011 on a positive note, but the Lakers are still out to prove they should not be forgotten or diminished in the Western Conference race. It should be a great way to round out the calendar year. Here is some basic information to help you find the game on Saturday night.
Game day/time: Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, 1:30 p.m. MT
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ALT, FSW