Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Free NBA Pick: Knicks ATS
Best Line Offered: SportsBetting
Per usual, ESPN has the national TV rights to the Friday doubleheader in the NBA, and I’m freaking stunned that Knicks-Lakers isn’t the late game on the network – Thunder-Blazers is. I presume it’s because the Lakers are limited to how many national TV appearances they can make and, well, everyone presumed the Knicks would blow this year. And they do. It probably worked out for the best here because LeBron James surely is going to sit out again with his groin injury.
New York is in absolute free-fall in having lost eight straight and 13 of 14 as they “chase’ the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA’s worst record. Remember, though, the team with the worst record no longer gets the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. The three-worst teams now have an equal shot of winning the lottery.
On this six-game road trip, the Knicks’ closest loss has been seven, which is was Tuesday in Denver (115-108). Luke Kornet led the Knicks with 19 points, and Luke Kornet should not be starting for any team in the NBA. Meanwhile, top reserve Enes Kanter had 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He complained about his role with the team afterward, and it’s almost a forgone conclusion that Kanter will be traded as he would definitely help a contender (despite being awful defensively) and is on an expiring contract. Kanter hasn’t officially requested a trade … yet. Kornet has taken Kanter’s starting role.
News Flash: Lakers Not As Good Sans LeBron
The Lakers dropped to 1-3 (2-2 ATS) since LeBron went down on Christmas with Wednesday’s 107-100 home defeat to Oklahoma City as 5-point underdogs. L.A. was outscored 29-18 in the fourth quarter and has had a habit of blowing second-half leads without LeBron.
Brandon Ingram’s numbers have really increased with James out and he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. With Rajon Rondo also sidelined, Ingram has become the centerpiece of the offense and is handling more play-making duties. Josh Hart also has seen his role grow sans James and he chipped in 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Now the bad news: Kyle Kuzma left in the second quarter with a bruised lower back and was to have an MRI on Thursday. Kuzma was averaging 25.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over the previous three games. If he has to sit, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who reportedly is on the trade block – likely starts.
For what it’s worth (and not much with James now in L.A.), the Knicks and Lakers split last year, each winning at home. New York is 41-89 all-time at the Lakers. At Staples Center, that record is 6-13.
- Knicks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Western Conference.
- Lakers are 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Lakers are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 vs. Eastern Conference.
Challenging call here because the Knicks are truly awful, but L.A. now likely down LeBron, Rondo & Kuzma. That’s a lot of production. Lakers also have covered just two of past eight vs. teams with a losing record. Bet the Knicks on Friday.