Who doesn't like the Grammy Awards? It's a night to hear some good tunes and perhaps broaden one's musical horizons. Well, I'm pretty certain the Los Angeles Lakers aren't the biggest fans of the Grammys (and Clippers and L.A. Kings too). They have been forced to vacate the Staples Center for the awards and L.A. continues its season-high seven-game road trip on Monday in Chicago. The Bulls opened as 8.5-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 194.5.
Foll us as we look at this matchup and decide which options look to be the most profitable for our NBA picks tonight.
You Mean Kendall Marshall Is Good!?
It will be the second of a back-to-back for L.A. (21-18-1 ATS, 21-19 O/U at sportsbooks entering Sunday) as it played in Toronto on Sunday, but at least it was an afternoon game and not much of a flight to the Windy City. On Friday, the Lakers won 107-104 in Boston -- Rajon Rondo's return for the Celtics -- behind 24 points and 13 rebounds from Pau Gasol. The Lakers didn't lead in the second half before Kendall Marshall hit a 3-pointer with 1:09 left. Rondo missed a three that would have put the game into OT.
Los Angeles would love to see Gasol continue to put up those types of numbers as the Lakers have no illusions of being a playoff team this season and dealing Gasol would likely earn the team a first-round pick, although perhaps not this year with Gasol set to become a free agent after the season. Gasol had been struggling all season but seems to have found something, averaging 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in the past three. Marshall, who looked like a major bust as Phoenix's No. 13 overall pick in 2012, has had a career resurgence in L.A. He is averaging 12.2- points and 12.2 assists in the past five games. He makes Steve Nash all the more dispensable for L.A. if Nash ever returns from injury. The Lakers would love it if Nash would just retire.
The Lakers backcourt has been devastated by injury, with Nash, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all out. L.A. was down two other key rotation guys in Xavier Henry and Nick Young on Friday. The former is trying to return from a sprained knee but recently had a setback. Young was suspended for Friday's game but was back Sunday.
Rather predictably, the Bulls (18-21 ATS, 16-23 O/U at sportsbooks) went into a swoon right after Derrick Rose was lost to a season-ending injury but they are playing much better now. Frankly, that's the last thing management wanted to see after trading Luol Deng in an obviously white-flag deal. Chicago hasn't been at .500 since Nov. 27 (7-7 then) but can get back to break even with a victory here. It has won seven of nine, with the only losses coming to the Wizards. Joakim Noah deserves an All-Star nod as he's averaging 11.7 points and 11.0 rebounds this season. He dominated Philly on Saturday with 21 points and 16 boards, his 12th straight game with double-digit rebounds. The Bulls led the Sixers by as many as 36 in the 103-78 beatdown.
Chicago has its own former first-round point guard off the scrap heap who is playing well. That would be D.J. Augustin, who was waived by Toronto in December. The 2008 No. 9 overall pick by Charlotte is averaging 11.5 points and 6.2 assists with the Bulls. They are 11-8 since signing him. The biggest beneficiary of the Deng trade has been rookie Tony Snell, who has moved into his starting slot. Snell is averaging 12.0 points in the past four. Coach Tom Thibodeau generally despises playing rookie but really has no choice with Snell.
Be sure to check out our NBA Picks of the Day article for more free plays.
This is the first of two. They split a season ago, each winning at home. Both were low scoring. Noah was a beast against L.A. in 2012-13, averaging 12.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in the two games. Of course the Bulls didn't have Rose for either, while the Lakers did have Kobe. Entering Sunday, L.A. was just 1-7 ATS on NBA odds in its past eight road games against teams with a winning home record. Chicago has covered nine of its past 11 against teams with a losing record.NBA free pick: L.A. + 8.5 (won't win but Bulls generally aren't going to blow you out) and the under.