Lakers Have Golden Opportunity to Upset Nuggets With Westbrook Out

One of only three winless teams in the NBA along with the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers will see what life without Russell Westbrook might be like as they play the Denver Nuggets tonight.

Could addition by subtraction be enough for the Lakers to steal their first win of the season tonight in Denver? The 2–2 Nuggets were blown out by the surprising undefeated Portland Trail Blazers 135–110 Monday night. After blowing an 8-point lead after Darvin Ham put Russell Westbrook back in the game with 4:42 left in the game against those same Trail Blazers, the Lakers will get a chance to play tonight without the mercurial point guard.

The Russell Westbrook situation has put extreme pressure on everybody in the Lakers’ organization, especially rookie head coach Darvin Ham, whose decision Sunday to reinsert Westbrook into the game cost L.A. the win. While the Lakers players as a team have remained supportive of Westbrook considering the situation, they’re also probably looking forward to the opportunity to show what they can do sans the drama surrounding Russ.

Besides being an opportunity to see what the team can do without Russ, we’ll also find out who’s going to replace Westbrook in the starting lineup as it appears inevitable Russ will be coming off the bench going forward. James, Davis, Beverley, and Walker will start so the only question is who will replace Westbrook? Best guess is Beverley and Walker start at the one and two with Juan Toscano-Anderson or Troy Brown Jr. at the three.

The Nuggets have started the season slowly. Both Jokic and Mitchell had subpar games against the Blazers and Porter Jr. will be out due to injury tonight. If the Lakers can continue to play elite defense, they could win.
Of course, the big question then is whether winning will only encourage Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ front office to stick by their current plan to wait to trade Russ until after their first 20 games or the end of November.

Realistically, if the Lakers can play great defense and pull of a surprise win in Denver tonight with this roster, Rob Pelinka should take that as a sign this team can be a legitimate championship contender with the right trade.

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LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.