Lakers-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers have done a nice job taking care of business at home.

That hasn't been the case on the road.

The Lakers begin a season-high six-game trip Friday night when they face a Denver Nuggets team coming off an impressive victory in Los Angeles.

With Tuesday's 106-73 rout over league-worst Charlotte, Los Angeles (13-9) improved to 11-2 at home. The Lakers, though, are off to their worst road start in nine years with a 2-7 record.

"I'm excited to get on the road and play," said Kobe Bryant, the league leader with 30.0 points per game. "I'm extremely confident that we'll play much better."

Lakers coach Mike Brown hopes that means a better effort on the boards. Despite having two of the NBA's better rebounders in Andrew Bynum (12.1 per game) and Pau Gasol (9.5), Los Angeles has been outrebounded by eight or more three times while losing four of five on the road.

"There are a handful of things we've got to do better on the road," said Brown, whose team plays three games in four nights. "As of late, it's been rebounding, but it also has to do with execution too."

That definitely didn't happen in the Lakers' last visit to Denver, where they committed 15 turnovers, missed 19 of 23 from 3-point range and shot 39.8 percent in a 99-90 New Year's Day defeat.

Bryant scored 16 points in that game to become the sixth player to reach 28,000, but he missed 22 of 28 shots. It was the fewest field goals made in his career with at least 26 attempts.

The Nuggets (15-7), meanwhile, will try to win for the sixth time in the Lakers' last seven visits as they continue their second back-to-back-to-back set of games this season. Denver avoided a season-high third consecutive loss Thursday with a 112-91 victory at the Pacific Division-leading Clippers.

The Nuggets are scoring a league-best 105.7 points per game, but they can also play a little defense. They held the Clippers - the NBA's fourth highest-scoring team - to 59 points the final three quarters after falling behind by 13.

Denver is 13-3 when holding opponents below 105 points.

"When we come out with this type of energy on the defensive end, it's tough to catch us," said Danilo Gallinari, who hit a season-high five 3s and scored 21 points.

The Lakers lead the NBA in field goal defense at 41.4 percent, but the Nuggets have six players averaging at least 11.1 points, led by Gallinari's 17.5 per contest.

Los Angeles has far less balance, with Bryant accounting for 32.0 percent of its offense. However, the Lakers have received a nice boost off the bench from rookie point guard Andrew Goudelock, who is averaging 11.5 points over the last four games.

"We got a lot of shooters on this team, with our second group especially,'' Goudelock said. "They can stretch out the floor with Troy Murphy and (Jason) Kapono obviously, and we got Bynum down low, so they can't really double team because if they do, they really have to pick their poison.''

Bynum, named an All-Star starter Thursday along with Bryant, leads the Lakers with 47 points and 29 rebounds in two games versus Denver in 2011-12.

Making his season debut after serving a four-game suspension for knocking down Dallas' J.J. Barea in last year's playoffs, Bynum totaled 29 points and 13 boards in a 92-89 win over the visiting Nuggets on Dec. 31.