When they met up late last month, the Thunder squeaked out a 101-98 win on the road. Russell Westbrook was out, so Kevin Durant had to do some major heavy lifting.
Durant scored 42 points on 9-of-24 shooting and added six rebounds and three steals. He got to the free throw line 24 times and made 22 freebies. Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha were the only other two members of the Thunder to score in double figures.
It was a much more balanced effort from the young Jazz, who had six different players score at least 10 points. Utah dominated in the paint – outscoring Oklahoma City 56-32 inside – yet still couldn't get the win.
Since that victory, things have only gotten worse for Utah, while the Thunder have been playing even better, with the return of Westbrook really making everything click again.
The Jazz have some nice talent for the future, but there's still a long way to go. They're second-to-last in offensive efficiency and are #30 on the defensive end, having given up 106.1 points per 100 possessions thus far.
As for the Thunder, they're in the top ten in both areas. The return of Westbrook has been the difference offensively, as he's averaging 21.6 PPG, 5.3 APG and 5.1 RPG. Pair that with Durant and his 29.5/6.9/5.5 averages and you can see why Oklahoma City has been a power in the Western Conference.
We figure Utah will give a good effort, but the Thunder are on a different level and we like them to cover in spite of the huge number.
Free Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder -13.5
Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers and Kings both enter tonight's game with losing records, but L.A has a shot to move to .500 with a victory inside Staples Center.
We believe Mike D'Antoni's team is the right side with our NBA picks.
Sacramento has been playing better here recently. They beat Phoenix in a home-and-home set on Tuesday and Wednesday, and yesterday they took the Clippers down to the wire before eventually losing 103-102.
DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Patrick Patterson all had 20+ points in the win, with Cousins adding 19 rebounds and seven assists in a spectacular all-around effort. However L.A. held on, with Chris Paul's free throw in the final seconds proving to be the difference.
For the Lakers, they'll be riding a two-game winning streak, with the victories coming at home over Detroit (114-99) and Golden State (102-95). It's definitely been wise to back L.A at home this season, as they're 5-3 SU and 6-1-1 ATS on their own court, as opposed to 1-4 SU and ATS records on the road.
Kings coach Mike Malone is trying to instill a more disciplined and hard-working approach into this team, but they're still prone to complete letdowns. Plus, Malone still hasn't quite figured out his best starting five, so the chemistry just hasn't been there on a consistent basis.
With that in mind, let's take the Lakers to win and cover, improving their home record to 6-3 in the process.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -4[gameodds]5/248102/?r-1=19-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]