The Lakers are in a bind. They have one of the highest ticket rates in the NBA and their huge local TV contract is partially tied to ratings. So the Lakers keep trotting Kobe Bryant out there heavy minutes because he puts fannies in the seats and eyeballs on those telecasts. But he's just not a very good player any longer. Kobe is shooting just .314 from the field overall and a ghastly .207 from 3-point range -- yet he's attempting nearly 10 3-pointers a game. Hint: stop doing that. At least give Kobe some credit as he is aware of how bad he has been thus far: "I suck right now … I'm the 200th best player in the league right now, I freaking suck." The Lakers are minus-18.5 points per game with Bryant on the floor vs. minus-4.9 without him.
Bulls at Hornets (+3, 193)
Charlotte entered Monday as one of six teams still winless in the Eastern Conference. I'm not sure Coach Steve Clifford makes it through this season. The Hornets are off a 94-92 loss to Atlanta on Sunday in their home opener. The Hornets had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but Kemba Walker's 17-footer hit the back rim and bounced out. Walker also missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of Charlotte's 97-94 loss in Atlanta on Friday night. Chicago beat Orlando 92-87 on Sunday to improve to 3-1. Derrick Rose, who continues to have trouble with his vision out of one eye, had just six points but he added eight assists and seven rebounds. "There is no point in shooting the ball if I can't see," Rose said.
Key trends: The Bulls are 6-2 ATS in the past eight in Charlotte. The "over/under" has gone under in 10 of the past 14 meetings.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Pacers at Pistons (-3.5, 196.5)
Detroit is one of the early surprises in the NBA at 3-0 for the first time since 2008-09; it has yet to allow more than 94 points. The Pistons have been off since Friday's 98-94 overtime win over Chicago. Andre Drummond is a monster and had 20 points and 20 rebounds vs. the Bulls. The Pistons scored more points in overtime (15) than they did in the second quarter (12). Indiana is 0-3 off Saturday's ugly 97-76 home loss to Utah. The Pacers have lost the lead in the third quarter and given up a total of 189 points in the second half of their three games. Indiana is 0-3 for the first time since 2009-10.
Key trends: Detroit is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Hawks at Heat (-3.5, 196.5)
Atlanta looked terrible in its season opener but has won three straight since and comes in off a 94-92 win in Charlotte on Sunday. Paul Millsap hit a key 3-pointer to give Atlanta the lead for good with less than a minute to play. The Hawks did not attempt a free throw until the third quarter. Miami rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit and beat visiting Houston 109-89 on Sunday. Miami was down 65-44 early in the second half. The Heat outscored Houston 65-24 the rest of the way. It certainly helped that the Rockets chose to sit Dwight Howard in the first of a back-to-back.
Key trends: The Hawks are 6-0-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 9-4 in the past 13.
Early lean: Heat and over.
Magic at Pelicans (-6, 201.5)
Orlando is 0-3 but has had a shot to win each game late. It comes off a 92-87 loss vs. Chicago on Sunday. The Magic might have won that one had they not gone 10-for-17 from the free-throw line. They blocked 11 shots and are averaging a whopping nine blocks per game. New Orleans is looking for its first win and has allowed at least 111 points in every one. It is off a 134-120 home loss to the Warriors on Saturday. Steph Curry torched the Pelicans for 53 points, including 28 in the third-quarter. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead New Orleans. Omer Asik and Luke Babbitt returned from injuries to make their season debuts. But Asik didn't practice Monday and is questionable for this one.
Key trends: Orlando is 9-4 ATS in its past 13 vs. the West. The over is 7-2 in the Pelicans' past nine vs. the East.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Raptors at Mavericks (-1.5, 206)
Toronto is the only team in the East other than Detroit without a loss. The Raptors beat the visiting Bucks 106-87 on Sunday. It was the franchise-record 157th win for Coach Dwane Casey. It was formerly held by current Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell. Toronto is 3-0 for only the third time in team history. This will be Dallas' home opener. The Mavs won at the Lakers on Sunday, 103-93. It was Coach Rick Carlisle's 340th win as their coach, breaking Don Nelson's franchise record in 29 fewer games. Dallas never trailed against the Lakers.
Key trends: The Raptors are 1-6 ATS in their past seven following a win of more than 10 points. The Mavs are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 at home. The over is 5-0 in Dallas' past five at home.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Grizzlies at Kings (TBA)
The big injury news on Tuesday's schedule is from this one as the Kings are likely to be without All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for the next two games as he suffered a right Achilles' strain in Saturday's 114-109 loss at the Clippers (why the TBA). Kosta Koufos should move into the starting lineup with Cousins out. Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein should also see more minutes. The Kings were 6-17 without Cousins last year. It's the second of a back-to-back for Memphis as it was at Golden State on Monday. The Grizzlies won three of four meetings with the Kings in 2014-15.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: Grizzlies should roll here; go under whatever the total is.
Nuggets at Lakers (pick'em, 209.5)
L.A. hasn't held a team below 103 points yet in starting 0-3 for the second straight season for the first time in franchise history. The Lakers began 0-5 last year. Kobe was just 3-for-15 in Sunday's loss to the Mavericks and missed his first seven. The one bright spot was Julius Randle having the best game of his young career with 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Rookie D'Angelo Russell struggled again, going 4-for-13 from the field. Denver has been blown out in back-to-back games after surprising Houston in its season opener. The team remains without forward Wilson Chandler (right hip strain) and center Jusuf Nurkic (knee surgery).
Key trends: Denver is 4-0 ATS in the past four in L.A. The over is 8-2-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
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