NBA Picks: Lakers vs. Nuggets

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:27 PM GMT

The new-look Los Angeles Lakers destroyed the NBA lines Tuesday night, but they might not have much left in the tank for Wednesday’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 12 inclusive: 3-5 ATS

That’s a little more like it.

It’s only one game, but the Los Angeles Lakers just may be on the right track. They trotted out yet another starting lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, and this time the lineup delivered in spades, as the Lakers crushed the Pelicans 116-95 to cash in as 3.5-point home dogs. It was Showtime all over again.

Their reward: a very quick shower and a flight to Colorado to face the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center. Do the Lakers still have some hops left over from Tuesday’s performance? The NBA betting odds are pretty skeptical; Los Angeles is a 10-point puppy for this matchup, although the Lakers were getting 64 percent consensus right out of the gate.

Make sure to check out SBRs Wednesday NBA Odds Report

The Mothers of Invention

When we last left the Lakers, they were already juggling their starting rotation, trying to find the right mix of personnel and managing Steve Nash’s minutes as he tries to come back from multiple injuries. That comeback has been shelved for now; Nash was scheduled to receive an epidural on Tuesday and will sit out the next couple of weeks – if not longer. This could be the end of the road for one of the very best point guards to ever play the game.

One door closes; another door opens. Citing a need to add more energy to the starting lineup, coach Mike D’Antoni shuffled the deck against the Pelicans, putting swingman Wesley Johnson and PF Jordan Hill on the frontline alongside center Pau Gasol, and pairing SG Jodie Meeks with veteran PG Steve Blake. It didn’t take long for this group to jell and build a commanding lead over New Orleans.

Then the subs came in and extended the lead. SF Xavier Henry had another evening full of highlight-reel moments, sinking all three of his trey attempts and driving the lane for a planet-destroying dunk over Jeff Withey, which you’ve probably already seen about 100 times on YouTube by now. Nick Young (17 points on 7-of-11 shooting) was also running all over the arena, and PG Jordan Farmar (nine points, eight assists) had a strong first half at both ends of the court.

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Minute by Minute

This is the kind of basketball we used to see from D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns back in the glory days of Seven Seconds or Less. D’Antoni has caught a lot of flak for not reproducing those results with the New York Knicks or the Lakers; people now scoff at the idea that D’Antoni is a premium-quality coach who can deliver championships. That’s not very nice. It also helps the Lakers retain their basketball betting value in their new role as the underdogs.

The more pressing challenge for Wednesday night is to get those players limbered up to face the Nuggets on zero days of rest, and in the Mile High air of Denver no less. Thanks in part to that impressive lead L.A. built over NOLA, no Laker played more than 27 minutes on Tuesday night, so that will definitely help their cause. But this is always a sticky spot to be in regardless. Los Angeles is 12-18 SU and 11-19 ATS in its last 30 playing the second of back-to-back games.

Fortunately for the Lakers (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS this year), they’re only playing the Nuggets, who have gotten off to a poor start at 2-4 SU and ATS. Denver is in an even more difficult transition period than the Kobe-less Lakers, as rookie head coach Brian Shaw tries to put his defensive stamp on a team that was designed for George Karl’s “Random Basketball” philosophy. It’s not working out yet. And Denver will be without center JaVale McGee indefinitely because of a stress fracture in his left leg. I’ll have to double-dip on the Lakers as double-digit dogs in this one.

NBA Pick: Take the Lakers +10 at William Hill