The Los Angeles Lakers have been very, very good to our NBA picks lately. On Thursday, they’ll host the wayward New York Knicks, who have a couple of fresh injuries to add to their misery this season.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 10: 47-42-4 ATS, 4-8 Totals
It should be one of the biggest marquee games in all of sports. Instead, the Los Angeles Lakers will host the New York Knicks Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET, MSG) with nothing on the line but pride and position in the draft lottery. Nothing on the line for them, that is. Handicappers will have a few sawbucks riding on this game, and the way the Lakers have cashed in lately, most of that long green will probably be going L.A.’s way.
How hot is Los Angeles right now? Try 8-1 ATS in the last nine games. Our latest payday saw the Lakers (17-46 SU, 29-30-4 ATS) beat the Detroit Pistons 93-85 on Tuesday as 3.5-point home dogs. The task will be a little more difficult on Thursday, with L.A. laying as many as eight points in NBA odds at Staples as we go to press. But then again, this is the Knicks (12-51 SU, 25-36-2 ATS) we’re talking about here.
The Black Album
We’ve had plenty of opportunity to look at the Lakers this year without Kobe Bryant (17.7 PER) in the lineup. Things unfurled pretty much as expected Tuesday night; once again, Tarik Black (14.1 PER) got the start on the frontline while Robert Sacre (11.1 PER) stayed glued to the bench, and Black had an efficient 10 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes of work. All five Lakers starters scored in double figures, as did Ed Davis (19.9 PER) and Jeremy Lin (15.6 PER).
We haven’t heard anything new about Nick Young (14.3 PER) and his swollen left knee, so we’ll continue to assume he’s out for the foreseeable future, although he remains listed as day-to-day. Again, not wishing bodily harm on anyone, but Young (minus-3.2 BPM) and Bryant (plus-0.4 BPM) haven’t been nearly as valuable to the Lakers this year as their reputations might suggest, which only enhances L.A.’s value as a NBA Pick.
As for the Knicks, they’re 2-10 SU and 4-7-1 ATS since releasing Amar’e Stoudemire (19.7 PER in New York), which they followed up by shutting down Carmelo Anthony (21.8 PER) for the season. That’s some aggressive tanking right there. Then point guard Jose Calderon (11.4 PER) came up with a sore Achilles; he’s missed seven games thus far and is officially listed as day-to-day.
Maybe the Knicks should keep Calderon on the sidelines. In his place, Alexey Shved (21.5 PER in nine games) has been lighting it up, scoring 20.1 points per 36 minutes and hitting 39.4 percent of his 3-pointers. Shved is already on his third NBA team this year; he came over from the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline for Pablo Prigioni (12.8 PER) in a fairly minor deal. Is Shved a diamond in the rough? Or will he regress back toward his career level of 12.3 PER? We’re betting on the latter, but it’s good to see the former Euroleaguer enjoy some success stateside.
Four More Years?
Speaking of former Euroleaguers, Andrea Bargnani (17.5 PER) has resurfaced in New York, and he’s not playing too poorly – at least on offense, where he’s starting at center and scoring 19.7 points per 36 minutes. Wait a second… yup, it’s a contract year for Bargnani. And the New York Post is even suggesting that the Knicks could re-sign Il Mago. The horror. The horror.
Meanwhile, with both Tim Hardaway (11.7 PER) and Quincy Acy (11.1 PER) listed as day-to-day with recent injuries, the Knicks don’t have many warm bodies left at their disposal. They can still be dangerous on those rare occasions when things click with the triangle offense, but we’re happy to take our chances Thursday night. May the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Lakers -6.5 at Pinnacle