LA Clippers-LA Lakers
It’s the derby of Los Angeles on Friday, and whilst it’s not quite up there in the intensity charts with El Clasico and the Old Firm, with the respective stars of both teams sitting it out, will we see a Hollywood fairytale?
The Lakers would hope so, if just to restore a little lustre in an NBA season where the Clippers have firmly seized the spotlight. It seems a long time ago now since the traditional powers upset their upstart neighbours 116-103 on the opening night of the new campaign.
Following that stunner, it’s largely been downhill all the way for the Lakers, with nine losses in 11 games since Kobe Bryant sustained another injury, whilst they were outscored by an average of 11.4 points over their last 10.
The Clippers will ruthlessly punish turnovers from their foes and even without Chris Paul they’ve kept rolling behind the playmaking of Darren Collison who’s put up 16.7 points per night since moving into the starting lineup. They’ve won four of five while averaging 109 as a team during that stretch.
The Lakers are underdogs by 10.5 on the handicap but with their offensive struggles, going under the total points line of 208.5 at 1.94 looks a solid bet.
And with their struggles likely to kill off any play-off hopes, expect another attempt at trading Pau Gasol away before next month’s deadline.
The Phoenix Suns’ surprise run will likely be hindered by the absence of Drew Bledsoe, whose prognosis – and return date – is uncertain due to a knee injury.
The Suns are 5-5 without the guard, who has been a key driver in their success. He has a greater impact defensively than offensively, with Phoenix actually scoring 2.4 more points per 100 possessions when he’s not in action.
But that is largely because they play at a slower pace and the longer he’s out, the more we might expect to see his team drop off their current rate of 103.2 points per game.
With a trip to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, we might get something similar to last week when the Griz took a 99-91 victory – with the total points line tonight at 196.5.
Best bet: Take the Clippers over the Lakers on the handicap of -10.5 at 1.85.
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