The Los Angeles Lakers probably are thrilled to have seen the calendar turn from January to February as they were just 3-12 last month and perhaps no team has been more devastated by injuries. Minnesota is maddening for sports bettors who back the Timberwolves because every time you think they are close to putting things together they fall off. The Wolves are 11.5-point home favorites on NBA odds for Tuesday's game against L.A. with a total of 214.
Not Much Good In Lakerland
Los Angeles (24-22-1 ATS, 27-20 O/U at sportsbooks) enters on a six-game losing streak, its third straight skid of six losses in a row since right before Christmas. At least the Lakers should be fresh for this one as they have been off since a 110-100 home loss to Charlotte on Friday. Bobcats center Al Jefferson had his way with the smallish Lakers by putting up 40 points and pulling down 18 rebounds. Not that the Lakers were going to make the playoff regardless, but that loss apparently sealed the deal. It dropped L.A. 10 games out of the final playoff spot out West and no team under the current playoff format has ever played extra basketball when it was 10 games out of the final spot at any point in the season.
The news gets worse. The only legitimate good player the Lakers have with Kobe Bryant out is Pau Gasol and now the Spaniard is hurt. Gasol had 24 points against Charlotte but had been dealing with a sore groin, and an MRI revealed a strain. He's out at least the next three games. That could hurt his potential trade value if Gasol isn't back by the Feb. 20 deadline. There's really no point in keeping him around now.
While Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry have all been out for weeks, Nash could play Tuesday. The NBA's oldest active player has been out since Nov. 10 with nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings. Nash was averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 assists in six games. Scarily enough, he's owed $9.7 million still next season. Here's guessing the Lakers "wink, wink" pay him to retire after this season. Blake and Farmar also could return this week.
Love-ing The Rebounds
Minnesota (25-22 ATS, 22-23-2 O/U at sportsbooks) actually got over .500 last Wednesday for the first time since it was 8-7 but the Wolves then lost at home to Memphis and at Atlanta on Saturday. Kevin Love just can't do it all by himself as much as he tries. He had 43 points and 19 rebounds despite being a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. If he's not a Laker when Love becomes a free agent in 2015 it's a huge upset.
Minnesota has been without starting center Nikola Pekovic the past three games and he won't be back for this one, either. He was having a career year, averaging 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds. The one thing his absence seems to do is inflate Love's rebound totals because then he's the only guy Minnesota has there. Love is averaging 16.3 boards the past three and is worth an over rebounds prop bet on NBA odds as long as Pekovic is out.
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Third of four and first in the Twin Cities. On Nov. 10 in L.A. the Timberwolves beat the Lakers 113-90 behind Ricky Rubio's triple-double of 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. The Wolves, who were 4-point favorites on NBA odds, outscored L.A. 47-23 in the first quarter and that was it. It ended their 22-game losing streak in the series. That was tied for the fourth-longest by one opponent over another in league history. The Wolves also were victims in the first two: against Seattle (26) and Phoenix (25). As noted above, that was Nash's last game. He played 13 minutes before his back flared up.
On Dec. 20, Minnesota was a 6-point favorite for sports bettors but lost 104-91. That was the first game after Kobe hurt his knee, which now apparently may keep him out all this month as well. Gasol had 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Love and Pekovic combined for 47 points and 26 rebounds. No one else did much for Minnesota.
Free NBA Picks: Minnesota -11.5 and the under. The Wolves end their 11-game home skid against the Lakers.