About the only positive thing I can say about Thursday's Knicks at Lakers matchup is it's the latest-starting game of the night and thus your last chance for an NBA bet. L.A. opened as 7.5-point BetOnline favorite with a total of 191.5 on NBA odds.
How Ugly Is It?
Of course most every other season any Knicks-Lakers matchup is going to be on national television because both teams are usually good, have superstars and of course are in the nation's two biggest media markets on opposite coasts. It just makes good TV marketing sense. However, both are so terrible this year and now with Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant each out for season, TNT, which gets the Thursday weekly doubleheader, said thanks but no thanks. It bumped this game off in favor of Memphis-Washington, which starts at 7 p.m. ET. The original 8 p.m. starting TNT game, Cavaliers at Spurs, was thus pushed back to a 9:30 start time.
Actually this game could have some importance as to which team finishes with the league's worst record and gets the most ping-pong balls in May's draft lottery. New York is at the bottom of the standings with a 12-51 mark while L.A. is fourth-worst at 17-46. Yeah, there's no way the Knicks probably win five more games so the Lakers are out of luck in that regard.
Maybe Knicks boss Phil Jackson and his girlfriend, Lakers boss Jeanie Buss, should just retire to Montana.
Because I Have To ....
The Knicks have played actually worse than their record in a five-game losing streak as their highest point total in that stretch was 86 (twice). What do you expect? Their starting lineup in Tuesday's 87-82 defeat in Utah was Langston Galloway and Alexey Shved in the backcourt, Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas at the forward spots, and Andrea Bargnani, who doesn't even know where the paint is, at center. Be honest: Have you heard of any of those guys other than Bargnani? He actually has 20-point games in three of the past five.
The Lakers ended a five-game losing streak Tuesday with a 93-85 home win over sinking Detroit. The 85 points was the third-fewest allowed to an opponent this season. See, all the Lakers have to do is hold a team below 90 as they are now 3-1 this year when doing so. Just for giggles, L.A.'s starting five in that Detroit game was Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington in the backcourt, Wesley Johnson and Tarik Black at forward, and Jordan Hill at center. Casual fans may know Johnson and Ellington from their college days. Hill's a decent enough pro. All five starters had double figures against the Pistons.
Los Angeles has played the past seven games without second-leading scorer Nick Young (if you count Kobe as the leading scorer) and he's probably not going to return this season because of pain and swelling in his knee. Two Lakers, Johnson and backup point guard Jeremy Lin (who became famous with the Knicks a couple of years ago), missed practice Wednesday with various ailments. Both should play Thursday.
Something has to give in this game as the Lakers rank 29th in scoring defense in the NBA at 105.3 points allowed per game. New York is No. 29 in offense at 92.2 points per game. Los Angeles is 29-30-4 against the NBA betting spread and 28-33-2 'over/under.' New York is 25-36-2 ATS and 27-35-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
On Super Bowl Sunday, in another game bumped from national TV, the host Knicks were 3-point favorites on NBA odds (the last time they have been favored) and won 92-80. Anthony had 31 points and eight rebounds for New York. It was Knicks coach Derek Fisher's first time coaching against the franchise he won five titles for under Jackson, who hired him in New York after missing out on Steve Kerr. Carlos Boozer and Clarkson each had 19 for the Lakers, who shot 35.5 percent. L.A. was without two of its best players in Hill (left in first quarter) and Young.
NBA Free Picks: The Lakers have won seven straight at home in this series, not that it means a ton. I slightly lean giving the points but much prefer the 'under' 191.5 with neither team having any true scorers for my NBA picks. The Knicks are 0-4 ATS in their past four Thursday games. The Lakers have covered five straight vs. teams with a losing record. The 'under' has hit in the past four games for both teams.