By all accounts, the Mike D’Antoni Era will begin with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets. D'Antoni was hoping to debut on Sunday against the Houston Rockets, but the coach pushed it back because he is not fully recovered from recent knee replacement surgery. D’Antoni is officially “day-to-day,” and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I have ever given injury status on a coach. Maybe the Lakers should have just hired interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, as he has led the team to a 4-1 mark since replacing the fired Mike Brown. D’Antoni has been running practices.
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Brooklyn, meanwhile, is very quickly putting the New Jersey Era into the history books. The Nets have won five straight, the longest streak in the Eastern Conference. Four of those wins were without starting small forward Gerald Wallace, who returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing six games due to a sprained ankle. He had four points in 25 minutes vs. the Kings.
Nets at Lakers Betting Story Lines
There was an NBA first in Brooklyn’s 99-90 win over Sacramento on Sunday in that Andray Blatche led the Nets in scoring with 22 points off the bench. He was the first NBA player this season to score 20 points in fewer than 20 minutes played. No Net had done it in three years. Blatche shot 11-of-12 from the field; not bad for a guy who was shooting barely 35 percent coming in. The Brooklyn bench had 52 points and shot 21-of-30. The Nets needed all of it considering Joe Johnson was 1-for-10 from the field and Deron Williams 4-for-12. Johnson has been a disappointment so far for Brooklyn. He is averaging just 15.3 points and shooting 36 percent from the field. At 6-2, the team is off to its best start in a decade. The Nets didn’t win more than three straight games all of last season.
The Lakers, meanwhile, appear to already be comfortable running D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense. They have scored 233 points in winning two straight to get to .500. In Sunday’s 119-108 win over Houston, Kobe Bryant had just the 18th triple-double of his career (first in two years) with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Dwight Howard had 28 points (on a season-high 18 attempts) and 13 rebounds. He has outscored Kobe in four games so far this season and L.A. is 3-1 in those. Pau Gasol became the 10th foreign-born player and the first Spaniard to score 15,000 NBA career points. Point guard Steve Nash missed his eighth straight game with a small fracture in his leg and likely won’t be back until next week at the earliest. Backup Steve Blake also sat with a strained abdomen and is “iffy” for Tuesday. Darius Morris has been starting at the point. D’Antoni has announced that Bickerstaff will remain on his staff at least through the end of the season.
L.A. has owned this series of late, winning eight straight. Last year because of the lockout, the teams met once. The Lakers won 91-87 at home. Kobe hit a tiebreaking three-pointer with 6.8 seconds left after Los Angeles had blown a 17-point lead. Bryant had 24 points, while Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds. Williams had 20 points and six assists for the Nets. The last time the Nets defeated the Lakers was the last time the Nets scored over 100 points vs. L.A., in November, 2007.
Nets at Lakers Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Lakers opened as seven-point favorites on BookMaker with the total at 204.5. L.A. is 5-5 ATS this season (5-3 at home) and 6-4 “over/under” (5-3 at home). Brooklyn is 4-2-2 ATS (2-1 on road) and 4-4 O/U (0-3 on road).
The Nets are 0-4 ATS in their last four games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game. The Lakers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games vs. Eastern Conference teams. L.A. has failed to cover in its past eight Tuesday games. The under is 5-0 in Lakers’ past five games vs. a team with a winning record. The over is 10-3 in the Nets’ past 13 games playing on one day of rest.
NBA Picks: Nets at Lakers Betting Predictions
If you had told me earlier this year that Nets-Lakers was going to feature Dwight Howard on one of the teams, I certainly would have expected that it was the Nets. He had made no secret that he wanted to play in Brooklyn with Williams, but the Nets and Magic could never agree on a deal (and it sure seems like Orlando did much worse in getting what it got in the four-team deal for Howard).
The Lakers probably won’t see the underside of .500 again this season, but it’s also noteworthy that they haven’t yet beaten a team with a winning record this year. The Nets will be looking to win six straight for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They haven’t been five games over .500 since that season. The Nets are 4-0 when scoring at least 100 points this season, while L.A. is 5-1. The Lakers win but Nets cover. It should be an up-and-down game so take the over. You will want to take the over most nights on the D’Antoni Lakers.
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