We had another winning night in the NBA, running the streak to four consecutive days, thanks to the road efforts of the Milwaukee Bucks. Perhaps more acclaim should go to the “non-efforts” of the Golden State Warrior who dropped their fifth game in seven overall. They still remain in the sixth spot on the Western Conference playoffs, but with things tightening up, it’s getting harder to see them holding on and remaining in the postseason picture.
Oh, and the Fighting Kobe’s, I mean “Lakers”, have pulled into a tie for the eighth spot with the Utah Jazz. The ageless heroics of Kobe Bryant in Friday’s win over Toronto were just another chapter in what is becoming one of the more interesting stories in the NBA. Today he get a chance to shine on the national stage when the Lakers host the Bulls on ABC. You can bet Kobe will take advantage of the opportunity.
Today’s Free Picks:
Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 (Total: 194)
Things are getting interesting in two of the NBA’s most vital cities, but for very different reasons. In Chicago, Derek Rose has been cleared to return by doctors, but still insists he isn’t ready. It’s an odd situation, made even odder by the recent comments from his brother about management’s failure to surround Derek with enough talented players to win a championship. Now a quiet, humble superstar faces questions about his toughness and character for the first time in his career. I’m hoping he returns healthily to the court soon, but have to admit, it would have been fantastic to see on ABC today.
In Los Angeles, Laker fans once again have playoff fever as their beloved have moved to one game over .500 and are currently tied with the Jazz for the 8th and final spot. They have won seven of their last ten, but let me play the buzz kill for a minute; their losses are to Oklahoma City, Denver, and the Clippers by large amounts. Their wins are over Toronto, New Orleans, Dallas, Boston, Portland, Atlanta, and Minnesota. Only two of those wins are by more than four points and only two of those teams are going to the playoffs and none are top four teams in their conference. When LA has played top four-type teams, they have lost time and again.
I am not sure Chicago beats them today, but five and a half seems like a steep point lay considering the Bulls are a much better defensive team than any they’ve beaten in a month. Expect Coach Thibs and Joakim Noah to come out focused defensively and to make Kobe work for difficult shots. NO one in NBA history has proven a more adept “bad-shot maker” (he’s like the Vlad Guerrero of basketball) , but when Kobe starts firing early and often, it tends to mean bad things for the team’s offensive (and sometimes Dwight’s defensive) production.
Give me the Bulls plus the points.
Free Pick: Chicago Bulls +5.5