Injuries have plagued both the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans the past couple of years. Wednesday’s NBA odds are on hold, but it looks like Anthony Davis will suit up for the Pellies.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 20: 24-24-2 ATS, 2-4 Totals
We have been known for stating the obvious here at the ranch. When we last looked at the New Orleans Pelicans, we were happy to fade them in their Jan. 9 game against the Memphis Grizzlies, based on the imbalance of their guard-heavy starting rotation. Sure enough, the Pellies came out with a different lineup that day, and they beat Memphis 106-95. NBA owners, please direct all your high-paying job offers to our home office.
Speaking of the obvious, the Los Angeles Lakers are bad at basketball. They were one of our top NBA picks to go UNDER their total for regular-season victories (30.5); just past the halfway point, the Lakers are right on schedule at 12-30 SU and 18-21-3 ATS. They’ve also dropped five in a row SU and ATS going into Wednesday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) with the Pelicans at the Squishee King Center. Whoa, that’s good Squishee. Unfortunately, we don’t have any NBA odds yet as we go to press – too many injuries, and too little Kobe. We’ll work around it.
The Brow and the Damage Done
The best player in Wednesday’s contest, assuming he does play, is Pelicans PF Anthony Davis (31.5 PER). He’s missed the last three games for New Orleans (20-21 SU, 23-18 ATS) with a sprained toe on his left foot. Without him, the Pellies have gone 1-2 SU and ATS, losing road games to the worst teams in the Eastern Conference: the New York Knicks (+7.5) and the Philadelphia 76ers (+6.5).
Good news for Pels fans, though. Davis was upgraded to probable for Wednesday’s game, and that should virtually guarantee that New Orleans gets the W in this one. There’s still a fly in the ointment, as PG Jrue Holiday (18.6 PER) remains questionable with an inflamed right ankle that has cost him the past four games. However, Holiday is part of that three-headed guard monster we were talking about earlier, and while his services are missed, Eric Gordon (10.3 PER) and Tyreke Evans (16.4 PER) are still there to pick up the backcourt slack.
Stuffed Kobe Burger
Less predictable for Wednesday’s game is the status of Kobe Bryant (17.7 PER). He’s been given eight of the past 15 games off for maintenance/tanking purposes, and Los Angeles is 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS in those eight games, compared to 2-5 SU and 2-4-1 ATS when Bryant did play. We’re certainly going to recommend fading the Lakers if Bryant is in action on Wednesday. His level of play is a couple of notches below the Kobe of old, partly because of age/injury and the lack of talent around him, and partly because he’s become a one-man iso wrecking crew.
Basketball-savvy observers found it very curious when new Lakers head coach Byron Scott insisted his team would be shooting fewer 3-pointers this year, and playing a harder-nosed style. Apparently Bryant didn’t get the memo: He’s firing up a career-high 7.7 trey attempts per game, and only making 29.6 percent of them. Bryant is also just 39.8 percent on his 2-point attempts, many of those being contested shots from just inside the arc. That’s what makes fading the Lakers so profitable when Bryant’s around.
Aside from Bryant’s stat sheet-stuffing, the Lakers are indeed taking fewer 3-pointers at 19.6 per game, down from 24.8 last year. It isn’t helping. Neither is the fact that Ronnie Price (10.3 PER) has been starting at point guard over Jeremy Lin (14.3 PER), although Price has missed two games with a sore elbow and is questionable for Wednesday. New back-up center Tarik Black (19.8 PER) is definitely out with a sprained right ankle, yet another reason to add the Pelicans to your NBA picks this week. Wait for the shootaround to see who’s playing, and bet accordingly.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans