The new “best passer in the NBA” is… Kobe Bryant?? The shoot-first guard of 17 years has been an assist machine the last three games, responding to the challenge of Coach D’Antoni and the needs of the team. Everyone knew Kobe could do whatever he wanted to do on a basketball court. It was just that he never seemed to want to be the chief distributor, opting instead of amass massive point totals. Last night he dished out 11 assists while attempting only 12 shots. It was nearly only the FOURTH time in his 17-YEAR career he had more assists than shot attempts… can he keep it up? I’m still a tad skeptical, but it is hard to argue with the results. The Lakers have won all three games in which Bryant has tallied double-digit assists including a big win over Oklahoma City.
Can a superstar change direction in midcourse? We are hoping for the same result here today. I’ve been mired in a week-long slump and will look to break the two game NBA skid (NCAA has been the albatross…) with a good win tonight.
Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks -1.5
Both the Bulls and Bucks have been playing good basketball to really tighten up the race in the Central between them and the Pacers. Chicago has won four of five, Milwaukee five of six, and both have a few good wins in the mix as well. Chicago has beaten Golden State and the Lakers while Milwaukee also has a win over Golden State, plus a pair of nice road wins at Portland and Phoenix. This should be a good game tonight.
Milwaukee has won the past two matchups against the Bulls, both in Chicago, and I like them with the home court edge tonight. Chicago is a better defensive team, holding teams to an average of 7.3 points less per game, but Milwaukee is the more dynamic offense and has an easier time getting baskets. With the tempo advantage using going to the home team, I like the Bucks to prevail in what is basically a pick ‘em game.
Free Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5
New Orleans Hornets at Utah Jazz -7.5
The Jazz are fresh off their worst home loss in franchise history, a 45-point debacle against the Rockets. Don’t let that scare you away from the Jazz. They are still 15-5 at home this season and still an excellent home team. A good remedy to get that game out of their minds quickly is a visit from the Hornets. I look for New Orleans to pay the price tonight against a motivated Jazz team.
Free Pick: Utah Jazz -7.5
Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets -4.5
Same logic applies here. Houston isn’t nearly as good as they showed out in Houston, and Denver is a very good home team. In fact, their 18-3 home mark is as good as any team in the league. I like them to protect that home court as they do so well and get the win and cover over the Rockets.
Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -4.5