Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register Blog wrote:
Q: What are the chances the Lakers go undefeated through 16 games in October and November?
A: 84 percent.
The early schedule for the Lakers is so cushy that it’d be a real surprise if they lost at all. Of those 16 games, only four are on the road, with Oklahoma City and Houston being among the Western Conference weak links (albeit scheduled back-to-back on Nov. 3-4) and Golden State right down there with the lesser lights (Nov. 28).
The one game to circle in the first month or so is Nov. 13 at Denver, with the Lakers playing the previous night at home against Phoenix, creating a fatigue situation. The Nuggets will be getting potent guard J.R. Smith back from NBA suspension that week, using their usual significant home-court advantage and seeking revenge for the recent Western Conference finals result.
Carmelo Anthony will be even better this season — and Smith should show some growth, too — but I foresee regression for various reasons for other Nuggets such as Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Nene and Chris Andersen. I don’t think Denver will finish ahead of the Lakers, Utah, San Antonio, Portland or Dallas in the Western Conference.
The toughest early home games for the Lakers shape up as Dallas (Oct. 30) and Atlanta (Nov. 1) in succession. Some might say New Orleans — twice in the first 17 games — could be troublesome, but the cost-cutting Hornets won’t be as good as in recent years.
My early season projection for the Lakers: 19-0 to start the season … and then a home loss on Dec. 9 to Utah. The Jazz usually isn’t much of a road team, and logic would suggest a Lakers loss on Dec. 12 in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back is a more likely problem spot, but that’s my hunch.