Yesterday the new best rivalry of the NBA, Nuggets vs. Lakers, resumed in front of a national television audience.
After acquiring point guard Chauncey Billups early last year, the Nuggets became one of the best teams in the league.
Denver made the conference finals in 2009, and ultimately lost in six games to the Lakers. Nonetheless, the showed they could contend with the Lakers, and beat them.
This year they drafted guard Ty Lawson from the 2009 NCAA champion North Carolina, and acquired Aaron Afflalo, who played some big games at UCLA. They beat the Lakers in their first two regular season meetings this year, but yesterday the Lakers won 95-89.
Although Kobe did not play spectacular, his supporting cast was solid in a gritty win. Ron Artest and Pau Gasol played well as the Lakers showed off their superior depth.
While the Nuggets lost, they should feel very good about themselves. They are the best team in the NBA. Denver has a veteran leader at point guard in Billups, a superstar scorer having a career year with Carmelo Anthony, and an excellent bench with sharpshooting JR Smith and energetic defender Chris Anderson.
The Nuggets are built for a championship playoff run, and as long as they stay healthy and focused, they will still be playing deep into June.