Washington Wizards AT Los Angeles Lakers
Tuesday, 12/07/2010 10:30 EST
Opening Betting line: LA Lakers -13.5
Current Betting line: LA Lakers -13.0
Current Total: Undefined
The Lakers found a way to end a four game losing streak, by blowing out the woeful Kings by 31 points. Prior to that game, LA recorded losses to Houston, Memphis, Indiana, and Utah. The losing streak took LA from the #1 spot in the Western Conference to the #4 spot, 3 games behind conference leader San Antonio. With three of the four losses coming on the road, the Lakers maintain a 9-2 record at the Staples Center. This bodes very well as the Wizards have yet to win a road game in 10 attempts. All six Wizard victories have come at home, where they are 6-3. Their total record is 6-13.
Washington’s defense has been absolutely horrid this year. They are giving up a second worst opponents field goal percentage of 48.2%, which has caused them to give up an average of 105.6 points per game, compare this to the 97.9 that the Wizards average per night and it is easy to see why they are 6 and 13. The Lakers, conversely, average the second highest scoring average in the league of 108.5 points a game. Despite scoring well over 100 a game, the Lakers hold opponents to only 99.6 points per game.
Washington is 8-11 ATS this year and LA is 11-8 ATS. Washington is 3-7 ATS on the road and the Lakers are 5-6 ATS at home.
Injuries – Andrew Bynum has missed the entire season nursing an injured knee and Theo Ratliff has missed most of the year with a knee injury as well. Washington is without Josh Howard, whose career has taken a downward spiral due to injuries.
Some of the key matchups tonight:
Washington Backcourt (John Wall/Gilbert Arenas/Kirk Hinrich) vs LA Backcourt (Fisher/Kobe Bryant/Shannon Brown)
Both teams sport dynamic backcourts that are the key to their respective successes (if you can say the Wizards have any such success at all). John Wall has been everything he was billed to be and has a legitimate shot at making the NBA All Star team in his rookie season. Playing 38 minutes a game, Wall is averaging 17.0 ppg and 8.7 apg, while also getting 2.5 steals on the defensive end. His outside shooting has been suspect at times, but it is seemingly his only chink in the armor as he has appeared outstanding. While Gilbert Arenas is clearly not the Gilbert Arenas of old, he hasn’t been horrible. His shooting percentage leaves a lot to be desired (shooting only 38% from the floor), but he is still managing to score 16.8 ppg and is still a decent distributor as well (5.3 apg). Combo guard Kirk Hinrich has added some defensive prowess and versatility to the backcourt. He is shooting a better percentage from the floor (46%) than both Wall and Arenas, and is also managing 4.8 assists per game, bringing the Washington trio backcourt an average of 18.8 assists per game.
On the other end of the ball is the L.A. Laker backcourt. Kobe Bryant remains the best closer in the game and is maintaining his scoring average despite playing three minutes less per night than his career average in minutes. He should have a scoring fest against Arenas, who lacks the quickness and the strength to be able to guard Bryant. Fisher isn’t much of a factor, but he and his backup Steve Blake are both decent to good defenders who will have their hands full with Wall. Shannon Brown has turned into a valuable reserve, answering the questions we had when he signed a contract that seemed to come out of nowhere for a player who hadn’t done much. His three point shooting has been a great boon for the Lakers.
While Pau Gasol is a key to the Lakers’ attack, it will be the backcourts that are the focus of tonight’s game. If the Lakers can contain Wall and Arenas, they will easily cover the 13 point spread.