NBA Picks: Back Lakers vs. Bulls In Bryant's Last Game In Chicago

Jason Lake

Sunday, February 21, 2016 12:19 AM GMT

The Chicago Bulls are still trying to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. That might be enough motivation to beat the NBA odds and the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night.

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NBA Pick: Lakers +7.5 (–115)
Best Line Offered: at The Greek

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 19: 22-26-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

The Chicago Bulls never give up. Missing three of their best players didn't stop them from beating the Toronto Raptors 116-106 Friday night as 7.5-point home dogs. Being a shell of his former self didn't stop Derrick Rose from dropping 26 points on Toronto. You can't measure heart, dammit.

But you can measure performance level, and overall, the Bulls (28-26 SU, 21-33 ATS) just haven't been getting the job done this year. Compare and contrast to the Los Angeles Lakers (11-45 SU, 27-29 ATS), who are doing a tremendous job of tanking the 2015-16 season. They've won just two of their last 16 games; however, L.A. is on a six-game ATS winning streak going into Sunday's matchup at the United Center. Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

 

Something You Can Do with Your Finger
As you can see, we've already put the Lakers in our NBA picks. They were marvelous fade candidates earlier in the season, dropping games left and right while Kobe Bryant (14.1 PER, –2.2 BPM) was cranking up a high volume of inaccurate shots. But over the past six games, Kobe's numbers are up across the board, leaving him at minus-0.3 for the month of February. Bryant was minus-22.3 in January.

And then Bryant dislocated his right middle finger in Friday's 119-113 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (–10 away). It looks like he'll be good to go for Sunday, though. This will be his last game in Chicago, and it's an ESPN game, so expect Bryant to keep doing what he's been doing. Meanwhile, D'Angelo Russell (13.0 PER, –1.7 BPM) and Julius Randle (13.6 PER, –4.2 BPM) have also seen their offensive game improve of late. The future is just around the corner.

 

Teach Me How to Dougie
Chicago's short-term future doesn't look very bright. Jimmy Butler (21.9 PER, +4.6 BPM) and Nikola Mirotic (14.5 PER, +0.5 BPM) are on the shelf until March, and Joakim Noah (14.2 PER, +2.5 BPM) is gone for the year with a shoulder injury. That win over Toronto? It was Doug McDermott (9.6 PER, –3.1 BPM) of all people, scoring 30 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Even a blind dog finds 30 bones now and then.

Okay, that was mean. McDermott was a rookie last year, he hurt his knee, and he ended up in Tom Thibodeau's doghouse. New head coach Fred Hoiberg has given McDermott some burn this year, and it's starting to pay off at the offensive end. Defense? Not so much. As for Rose (13.1 PER, –3.1 BPM), he still goes off from time to time, but Rose can't play defense, either. Russell might eat him alive on Sunday. The way the Lakers have been pounding the NBA odds lately, we're not touching the Bulls with a 10-foot cattle prod.