Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers should make easy work of the Charlotte Bobcats when they meet tonight, but will they cover the 13 point spread set by the odds makers? See where we are placing our NBA picks.

5* graded NBA pick on the Los Angeles Lakers as they host the Charlotte Bobcats set to start at 10:30 PM ET.

Sportsbooks opened with the Lakers at -13.5 with a projected total of 184. Early NBA betting action has pushed the lines down to -13 an 183 respectively. Lets breakdown this matchup and determine where we should place our NBA picks to maximize our payout.

The Bobcats have lost eight straight games and have lost their last eight straight road games. The Lakers are still learning as a team, but did win their second road game in nine tries in their last game at Minnesota. They did blow an 18-point lead, but held on for a 106-101 win and were installed as two point dogs. 

Kobe BryantCharlotte has the worst record in the NBA at 3-18 and are just 1-10 in roads tilts. The Lakers are in second place in the Pacific division of the Western Conference and trail the city rival Clippers by 1 ½ games. The remaining three teams, Phoenix (7-13), Golden State (6-12), and Sacramento (6-14) are all but out of any playoff contention. So, this division will be a two horse race and perhaps both teams make the playoffs.

Charlotte ranks 26th in the NBA scoring 88.9 points per game, but have really struggled over their last three games scoring just 82.0 points per game. The Lakers are a work in progress, but the offense is making steady improvement. They rank 20th in the NBA scoring 93.0 points per game, but have averaged 97 points per game over their last three games.

The Lakers are a team designed to score a significant amount of their points in the paint. In the beginning of the season they attempted to run an offensive scheme that had Gasol playing outside the box and the offense was largely inconsistent. Over the past seven games, the Lakers have gotten back to pounding the paint with Gasol and Bynum and it is paying dividends.

In 2010 the Lakers averaged 44.0 points per game in the paint and have averaged 39.0 points per game in the paint this season. They have averaged 40 points per game in the paint over their last three games and I strongly believe they will score 50 or more in the paint tonight.

Moreover, the Charlotte defense ranks 29th in the NBA allowing 100.6 points per game. By stark contrast, the Lakers have the eighth best scoring defense allowing 91.5 points per game. So, the Lakers will turn up the defensive presence and use missed Charlotte shots as fast break scoring opportunities in transition.  

The Lakers defense is very good at defending in the paint and rank 11th in the NBA allowing 38.8 points per game. The Bobcats rank 29th in the NBA allowing 47.5 points per game in the paint. The Lakers strengths go up against the Bobcats weaknesses, and this could be a 20-point blowout by half-time.

Simulator Projections

My proprietary sports betting database and simulator show a high probability that the Lakers will win this game by 14 or more points. The simulator shows a high probability exceeding 85% that Charlotte will score less than 86 points on 42% or less shooting. In past games, the Lakers are 20-6 ATS when they allow 86 or less points in a game over the last 2 seasons; 187-111 ATS when their opponents make 39% to 42% of their shots in a game since 1996. Charlotte is just 6-23 ATS when they score 86 or less points in a game over the last two seasons.

My Pick: Take the Los Angeles Lakers.