Timberwolves at Lakers Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/28/2013
Keep an eye on the Minnesota Timberwolves in the final two-plus months of the NBA’s regular season. Yes, the team has been a huge disappointment as it looked like there was enough talent on the roster for the franchise to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, Kevin Love’s hand injuries and Ricky Rubio’s initial struggles after returning from ACL surgery have torpedoed this season.
Rubio is starting to show flashes of his stellar rookie season, and Love is hoping to return for the final 15-20 games of the season. I am very interested to see those two on the floor together because I do think this club has a solid nucleus of those two, vastly underrated center Nikola Pekovic (he will be a restricted free agent) and maybe former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, although he hasn’t shown it consistently yet. If the Wolves could add a good shooting guard this offseason via free agency – J.J. Redick? – or trade, then look out next year.
As for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant has guaranteed that L.A. won’t commit potentially the biggest flop in NBA history and miss the playoffs. Coach Mike D’Antoni said the Lakers would have to likely win 20 of their final 28 games after the break to get the No. 8 spot in the West. So far, so good as L.A. is 3-1 post-break, but a win here and Sunday will be vital.
Timberwolves at Lakers Betting Story Lines
The Lakers appear to have turned a corner on Jan. 25 when they returned home to face Utah on a four-game losing streak and a season-worst eight games under .500 (17-25). Since then, the Lakers have won 11 of 16 games and have just one home loss in that stretch, to the Clippers. The offense, even without Pau Gasol (still likely a few weeks from returning), has hit triple-digits in five straight games.
However, the Lakers missed a golden chance to reach .500 for the first time since late November when they lost 119-108 at Denver on Monday to drop to 28-30 and currently three games behind No. 8 Houston in the West. There’s no shame in losing at Denver as the Nuggets are one of the NBA’s best home teams. But there were two concerning stats: The Nuggets had 33 fast-break points, the most allowed by L.A. in five years; and Denver had 54 points in the paint when Dwight Howard was on the floor, the most ever scored against Howard in a single game. The Nuggets did all that without an injured Danilo Gallinari, the team’s leading scorer. Howard was 3-for-14 from the line in the game, by the way, and is down to 48.5 percent there.
There was one piece of good news from the game: Kobe had a technical called on him, which would have been his league-leading 14th. Players are suspended for a game when they hit 16, but the T was rescinded by the league the next day. I say this game and Sunday’s against the Hawks is important because L.A. should get to .500 before likely dropping back under on Tuesday at Oklahoma City. Then the Lakers have three very winnable games before a three-game road trip.
Minnesota lost its third straight on Tuesday, 84-83 in overtime at Phoenix. That was noteworthy because the Suns became the first NBA team in the shot-clock era to win an OT game without a player scoring at least 15 points. Rubio struggled for the Wolves in that one by shooting 2-for-12 from the field (he’ll likely never be a great shooter) for five points. He did have 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. The Wolves brought him along very slowly off that ACL surgery, but in the past 10 games the young Spaniard is averaging 13.5 points, 9.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. Those are all better numbers than his rookie year.
The Lakers won in Minnesota 111-100 on Feb. 1 as two-point favorites (total was 200). Kobe had 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Lakers played without Howard but did have Gasol, who had 22 points and 12 boards. Rubio had nine points and seven assists. The Wolves trailed by 29 in the second quarter but managed to get as close as four in the fourth. That was L.A.’s 20th straight win over Minnesota, the longest active streak by one team over another in the NBA.
Timberwolves at Lakers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
5Dimes has listed the Lakers as 10.5-point favorites with the total listed at 205.5.
The Timberwolves are 24-28-2 ATS (12-14-1 on road) and 25-27-2 “over/under” (14-12-1 on road). The Lakers are 23-34-1 ATS (13-16 at home) and 29-28-1 over/under (13-15-1 at home).
Minnesota is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a loss. The Wolves have covered once in their past nine after an ATS win. They have covered one in their past six road games against teams with a winning home record. The Lakers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven after a double-digit loss. They are 1-4 ATS in their past four at home. The under is 4-0 in Minnesota’s past four after a loss. The under is 10-1 in L.A.’s past 11 games after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings. The Lakers have covered in four of the past five.
Timberwolves at Lakers Betting Prediction
I am trying to think of a reason to take the Wolves and the points here, but I don’t see it. L.A. has a day more of rest and has been mostly good at home of late, not to the mention the team is pseudo-desperate. Minnesota has lost 19 of its past 23 games overall and 10 of its past 11 on the road and may not have Pekovic. It has lost 12 straight at the Lakers. Maybe that streak ends year with a healthy Love and Rubio. Take L.A. and the over as I don’t expect much defense.
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