NBA Picks: Lakers vs. Bulls

Jeff Grant

Monday, January 21, 2013 2:08 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Lakers have lost five games in a row on the road, as they prepare to play the final game of a back-to-back situation versus the Chicago Bulls Monday night. Let’s take a closer look at this non-conference affair from a NBA betting perspective.

Sleepless in Toronto

Los Angeles fell behind by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter Sunday, as it dropped a 108-103 decision to the Toronto Raptors as 4.5-point road favorites, while going OVER the total for the first time in six contests. The Lakers have now dropped their last five games away from the Staples Center, which has played a big part in their 6-11 against-the-spread record on the road for the 2012-13 NBA season. 

Overtime may take its toll 

Chicago has won two of its last three games, with each of those affairs going to overtime, including an 85-82 setback to the Memphis Grizzlies as two-point home underdogs Saturday night. The Bulls are still without point guard Derrick Rose (knee), while forward Luol Deng may miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury, as he’s currently listed as questionable on the injury report. 

Shooting woes for the Black Mamba 

Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring, but he’s knocked down just 31.6 percent (18 of 57) of his shots in losses to the Raptors and Miami Heat, which could be an early sign of a downward trend for the Lakers star. In 27 career games (23 starts) versus the Bulls, Bryant has averaged 24.8 points per game. Los Angeles will try to avoid three straight losses in this series for the first time since dropping five in a row from 1994-95 to 1996-97. 

Seeking unity

Before adding Chicago to your sports picks, bettors need to realize that the Bulls have compiled an even 11-11 record at the United Center this year, which has led to a miserable 5-17 ATS mark. It’s important to note that the squad has dropped six of nine games when hosting Western Conference opponents, but it has split its last 10 home games in this particular series.

Underdog has gotten the cash

It’s quite possible that the Lakers could be sent out as slight road favorites once the NBA odds are released in the betting market, considering the Deng and Rose combined for 86 points in leading the Bulls to victory in the last two meetings in this series. NBA handicappers need to be ready to back the team that ends up getting established as the underdog, considering the side receiving points in this series is 16-5 ATS in the last 21 meetings.

[gameodds]5/134510/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Lakers as one of their NBA picks Monday night, but I’m not interested in playing them as road favorites of more than 1.5 points. It’s imperative that readers monitor the injury status of Deng closely throughout the day, as he’s an important player in this matchup.

NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -1.5