It was about as perfect a night as the Lakers could ask for. The knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio (take a minute for that to register). Granted it took a ridiculous bevy of Swaggy P three-pointers, including a heavily-contested, shot clock-racing heave with seven seconds to play, but it is a still a road win against the defending World Champs. Kobe played a fantastic game, scoring 22 points and dishing out 9 assists as the Lakers played long stretches without a point guard (it’s not a terrible idea if Kobe wants to compete and can sublimate the ego).
Maybe most importantly, he came up nine points short of Michael Jordan’s scoring mark, so he gets a whole weekend of fawning media coverage as he gears up for the certain passing of Michael Sunday night in Minnesota. It sounds a little sarcastic, but sincerely, hats off to Kobe Bryant. He’s a blast to watch whether you love him or hate him, so enjoy a few final seasons of one of the greatest players and competitors in NBA history.
We had a rough night, dropping both Western Conference picks as a pair of Eastern favorites protected their homecourt and the beleaguered reputation of their conference. Let’s try to bounce back today with a winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets -3.5 (Total: 189.5)
The Brooklyn Nets snapped a three-game losing streak against the lowly Sixers and enter tonight’s game in the final playoff position but three games under .500. Charlotte has been the league’s biggest disappointment this season and enters tonight 6-16 and fresh on the heels of a heart-breaking double overtime loss last night in Memphis. The loss snapped a brief two-game winning streak, but leaves them just 2-8 in their last ten games with their only wins coming over the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
The biggest problem with both of these teams is that they flat-out can’t score. They average 95.6 and 94.8 ppg respectively, and shoot 44% and 42.4% from the floor. That is anemic and inefficient on both accounts and leaves tonight with some ugly possibilities. The Nets have committed to defense and have limited six of their last ten opponents to fewer than 100 points. Not coincidentally, they have won five of those games.
I expect the Hornets to be sluggish tonight on the back-end of a tough back-to-back, even at home. I also expect Brooklyn to struggle to score as well. I’d lean Nets with the points, but I’m staking my official play on the UNDER 189 tonight. This could be a really unpleasant game to watch, so maybe just track the score to make sure your wager is doing alright…