Lakers carry a season-high eight-game losing streak into Tuesday's late game against Washington. The Wizards opened as 8-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 196.5.
So Long Kobe
The Lakers (12-33) announced on Monday that Kobe Bryant would have surgery on his torn right rotator cuff, thus officially ruling him out for the rest of the season -- who knows, maybe that's it for Kobe's career, although he's not likely going to want to go out like this. Plus he's due $25 million next season. Frankly, the Lakers have been a better team when he's on the bench than on the court this season. The Lakers weren't a great offensive team even with Kobe, and they are really going to struggle to score without him. They haven't topped 87 points in the two games since Bryant suffered the injury.
The team got more bad news Monday when Nick Young, who now likely becomes the primary offensive weapon, sprained his ankle in practice and is now questionable to play Tuesday. Interesting timing because Lakers coach Byron Scott benched "Swaggy P" during Sunday's 99-87 home loss to Houston. Young played just eight minutes, his fewest as a Laker, and was scoreless. Young then avoided the media after practice.
"It looked to me that he didn't want to be here," Scott said of his reason for the benching.
Point guard Jeremy Lin got out of Scott's doghouse on Monday. He was a DNP-coach's decision in Friday's loss in San Antonio but played 28 minutes against the Rockets and had 14 points and six assists. The Lakers' eight-game skid is the team's longest since also dropping eight in a row in March 2005. That was the last time before last season that L.A. missed the playoffs. The Lakers haven't dropped nine straight since April 1994.
Los Angeles is 18-23-4 against the NBA betting spread this season and 19-25-1 'over/under.'
Stop No. 3 on 4-Game Trip for Wizards
Washington (30-15) has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference but is seven games behind top-seeded Atlanta. The Wizards ended a two-game losing streak Sunday with a 117-115 overtime win in Denver in the second of a back-to-back. John Wall had 19 points and 16 assists, while Kris Humphries had a season-high 21 points to go with 14 rebounds. The Wiz were pretty fortunate to win that game because Denver's Kenneth Faried missed two free throws with 1.4 seconds left in regulation after being fouled by Bradley Beal (he was trying to take a charge).
The Wizards aren't a great offensive team, ranking 18th in scoring at 99.9 points per game. They are solid on defense, allowing just 97.6 points per game (ninth in league). The team is 24-1 overall this season and 8-0 on the road when holding opponents to less than 100 points. That lone loss was Dec. 23 against Chicago, 99-91.
If Washington's Paul Pierce has a huge night, he could pass Alex English for 15th place on the league's all-time points list. Pierce has 25,873 points, 30 behind English. That's the fourth-most among active players behind Kobe, Dirk Nowitzki and Pierce's former teammate Kevin Garnett.
The Wizards are 20-24-1 against the spread this season and 21-23-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
The teams met Dec. 3 in Washington and the Wizards won 111-95 as an 8.5-point favorite on NBA odds in what was the second of a back-to-back for the Lakers. Kobe led L.A. with 29 points, but he was 0-for-7 from the field in the second half when the Wizards pulled away. Beal had 27 for the Wizards, Marcin Gortat 21 points and 11 rebounds and Wall 17 points and 15 assists. The Wizards outscored the Lakers 56-20 in the paint even though Washington big man Nene missed the game with a foot injury. Washington has won four in a row overall against the Lakers, including two straight at Staples Center.
The Wizards have covered five of their past eight following an ATS loss. The Lakers have failed to cover seven straight vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 5-1 in Washington's past six road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The 'under' is 5-1 in the Lakers' past six at home. So we suggest readers to back Washington here and make them their NBA pick tonight.
NBA Free Picks: Wizards -8 and 'under' 196.5 points at BookMaker