NBA Picks: Lakers vs. Suns

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:44 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 1:44 PM GMT

The Phoenix Suns still have the best record in the NBA against the basketball betting lines, but now they’re starting to understand what life is like for the injury-plagued Los Angeles Lakers.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 14 inclusive:

43-31-1 ATS

12-9 Totals

If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’ve got the standard good news and bad news for you, times two. First, the Lakers lost 120-118 to the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night, but they did manage to cash in as 4-point home dogs on the NBA lines. Second, Pau Gasol (17.5 PER) was diagnosed with a strained left toe, but he played anyway on Tuesday and filled the stat sheet with 20 points and 12 rebounds in 36 very efficient minutes. Everyone loves a chop pot.

The Phoenix Suns can sympathize. They lost their third game in a row on Monday, falling 98-96 to the New York Knicks in overtime, but at least the Suns got paid as 4-point puppies at MSG. That result leaves Phoenix at 2-5 SU and 3-5 ATS since guard Eric Bledsoe (20.2 PER) sprained his knee on New Year’s Eve. The Suns welcome the Lakers to The Snake Pit on Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET; in what’s becoming all too regular, the NBA odds for this matchup are pending as we go to press, presumably as we wait to see how Gasol’s toe holds up.

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Give Me Your Digits

The last time we checked in on the Lakers (14-24 SU, 19-18-1 ATS) one week ago, they were losing 113-95 to the Houston Rockets, barely missing out on a payday as 13.5-point road dogs. Then they got absolutely crushed by the L.A. Clippers (–10) in a 123-87 final that had about as much buzz as a cup of Sanka. The Lakers scored eight points in the third quarter. They gave up 43 points in the first quarter. And you thought Gasol’s toe injury was painful.

The story with the Lakers hasn’t changed much since last week, other than the fact that they’re now on a five-game losing streak, falling to 1-11 SU and 4-8 ATS since Dec. 21. Point guard Kendall Marshall (15.4 PER) continues to impress, registering double-doubles in back-to-back games. Center Jordan Hill (20.6 PER) continues to come off the bench for Mike D’Antoni while Robert Sacre (14.1 PER) gets the starting assignment. And the Lakers continue to put themselves in a strong position to land one of those premium picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Don’t Call My Name, Leandro

Back in the desert, the Suns are also sinking in the West at 21-16 SU, just two games ahead of the Denver Nuggets for eighth place. Losing Bledsoe was a tough break; this team has greatly outperformed expectations and still has the most profitable record in NBA betting at 25-11-1 ATS, but there isn’t enough depth to cover the loss of arguably their best player. Bledsoe had a piece of the meniscus in his right knee removed – earlier reports said the whole thing was taken out – and isn’t likely to return until after the All-Star break.

The Suns have patched the hole for now with a familiar face, former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa, who was signed to a 10-day contact on Jan. 8. And Barbosa turned back the clock on Monday with 21 points off the bench against the Knicks. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the new starting 2-guard, Gerald Green (14.1 PER), was held to four points on 2-of-16 shooting. Send him back to Russia!

Actually, don’t. Have you seen the news coming out of there? Besides, Green has had more good days than bad since joining the Suns in the Luis Scola trade. And unlike most of the guards on the Lakers, Green has all his limbs in working order. That’s enough for me to recommend the Suns at whatever price the NBA lines happen to come up with.

NBA Pick: Take the Suns

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