Lakers at Nuggets Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 2/25/2013
Don’t look now, but the Lakers are finally playing more like, well, the Lakers. They have won 11 of their last 15. While they still have work to do to earn a playoff berth, it’s not nearly as impossible to imagine as it once was. They are coming off a good win yesterday in Dallas and look to stretch their current streak to four wins.
They don’t face an easy spot to earn that win here, though. The Nuggets are an impressive 23-3 at home and have won their last eight in Denver. They haven’t been nearly as impressive on the road lately, though, with embarrassing losses in Washington and Toronto among their last four road games.
Lakers at Nuggets Betting Storylines
The Lakers aren’t exactly the youngest team in the NBA, and with Pau Gasol out and Howard, Nash and Kobe all banged up they aren’t the healthiest, either. That makes the prospect of back-to-back games always a concern — especially on the road. The team is just 3-6 so far this year in the back half of consecutive games, and the last win hardly counts since it came in Charlotte. It will help somewhat that Sunday’s game was a 1 p.m. start, so there is as much rest as you can have between consecutive starts. On the other hand, the game against the Mavericks had an almost playoff-like atmosphere to it despite being between two teams that have fallen on tough times this year, so there could be mental fatigue for the team to overcome. More than has even been needed this year, then, you need to strongly consider the mental state you expect of the Lakers when you are handicapping the game.
The status of Danilo Gallinari is a big concern for the Nuggets. The unlikely leading scorer of the team, with 16.9 points per game, has been dealing with a thigh bruise that has affected him adversely. He has just six points in each of his last two games, and is uncertain for this contest. He has scored at least 19 points each of the three times these teams have met this year — two of which Denver won — so his absence or relative ineffectiveness would be a big blow to the chances of Denver here.
Shockingly, for the Lakers the big story right now is Kobe Bryant. Fueled by his guarantee that the team will make the playoffs, the bizarre slight from Mark Cuban, and likely by his embarrassment over the farce that much of the season has been for his team, Bryant has been absolutely brilliant lately. On Friday night he scored 40 against Portland, and he followed it up with 38 points and 12 boards in Dallas in one of his best games of the year. His focus has been absent at times this year, but he’s completely dialed in right now. He has averaged 34.5 points per game in his last two against the Nuggets, so he likes the matchup. Of course, his team lost both games despite his strong performances.
The Lakers are playing strong ball on the road right now with five wins in their last seven games. Unfortunately, those two losses came at Boston and Miami — the two best home teams they have faced. Against another strong home team it’s tough to judge how much credit to give their road momentum. The Lakers just can’t make it easy for handicappers, can they?
Lakers at Nuggets NBA Odds and Betting Trends
The Lakers are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against teams with a winning percentage above .600. The Nuggets have gone “over” the total in 10 of their last 11 home games. The Lakers have gone under in each of their last games on no rest. The Lakers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 in Denver.
Lakers at Nuggets Picks and Betting Predictions
I might regret this — at 22-33-1 ATS the Lakers haven’t been easy to trust this year — but I think the Lakers are the play here. Denver will be comfortable at home, but they are not generally playing very well right now, and the injury to Gallinari hurts. The Lakers are playing angry — and are finally channeling it effectively. This number seems more than generous for the Lakers despite all the disadvantages they face, and that makes them an attractive play here.
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