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Lakers vs. Suns Pick NBA – Dec 23rd + Bonus Pick

If you like offensive basketball, the Minnesota and Clippers game certainly didn’t disappoint last night.  The Clips missed the cover by a point and a half, handing us a disappointing loss, but from a viewing standpoint, the game was fantastic.  Kevin Love notched a ridiculous 45 points, 19 rebounds and six assists, making him the first person to turn in that statline since Hakeem Olajawon nearly 18 years ago.  Simply jaw-dropping stuff from a guy who’s making a strong MVP case…. Except for the fact his team is once again on the outside of playoff picture.  It’ll be interesting to see the bidding frenzy that ensues when he becomes a free agent in 2015 (because he’s GOT to leave Minny, right?? )

Despite the individual brilliance, the Timberwolves fell to 13-15 and 11th in the West (ironically, that’d rate 4th in the East).  For tonight’s pick, let focus in one two of the teams in the big mix along with them for the final slots in the West.

Today’s Free Picks:

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns -8 (Total: 208)

The Phoenix Suns have been good to me from a wagering perspective all year.  They are a robust  19-6-1 ATS this season and have posted a nice 9-4 home record.  However, tonight’s game required a little more analysis beyond “Kobe’s hurt. Phoenix is good” with a line at -8.

Phoenix has won five of their last six games at home, and have won four of them by nine or more points, including a nice 123-108 win over Dallas Saturday night.  The Suns, while most pundits were waiting for them to crash back to Earth, have actually begun playing even BETTER, thanks to the healthy return of Goran Dragic.

Much of Phoenix’s success has come down to what they’ve done behind the arc.  They are shooting 45.5% in their last five games, while limiting opponents to just 31% shooting.  If you factor in that Pau Gasol is likely out tonight, making their lone inside threat Chris Kaman, the Lakers will be even more reliant on firing from long range.  Advantage Suns.

I like Phoenix to keep on keepin’ on at home, and roll over the battered Lakers.

Free Pick:  Phoenix Suns -8

Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets -5 (Total: 212.5)

The Rockets have been a little up and down this season, partially due to some backcourt nagging injuries, but largely due to the ebb and flow of a team that is good at home and not so great on the road.  Their 11-3 home record bodes well for some success tonight.  Dallas has struggled away from home, going 4-9 this season.

Dallas has exceeded expectations this season after missing the postseason for the first time in a decade last year, however, they are a pretty average 14-13 ATS overall.  The home team has won seven of the last eight games in this rivalry, and I think the trend continues tonight.  Houston is a much more efficient team, averaging 4.0% better shooting percentage vs. FG% allowed, while Dallas is nearly even.  Add in the hone court advantage tonight, and as long as Houston takes care of the ball, things should be in their favor.

Free Pick:  Houston Rockets -5