Phoenix at L.A. Lakers
Time: 9:30 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: LAL -13.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Phoenix Suns have lost seven of its last 10 SU and is just 11-14 on the road where it faces the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are 17-7 at home this season and have won six of its last 10 overall. The Lakers are 13.5-point favorites in the game with the point total set at 230 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
LAL NEWS & NOTES:
The Los Angeles Lakers are now 37-11. It is currently seated atop the Western Conference with a three-game lead over the No. 2 seeded Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers have won six of its last 10 SU.
It appears the gamble to wager so much young talent to obtain Anthony Davis has paid off thus far. Davis leads the team in scoring, providing a powerful punch that LeBron James has done little more than feast from.
The Lakers rank No. 8 in the Association in scoring at 113.7 points per game while possessing a defense that limits teams to just 106.1. The Lakers also rank No. 7 in the league in assists per game as a team, tallying an impressive 26.1 per game.
James, of course, ranks highest in the assist category, even with the dime-dropping Rajon Rondo coming in to play alongside him. James is averaging 10.9 assists per game, to go with his 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks/steals per game. Davis is leading the way with 27.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while coming up with 1.4 steals and 2.5 blocks per contest.
The missing thing, if anything, has been the Kyle Kuzma that Los Angeles is used to seeing. Kuzma has played 25 games this season since returning from injury, but he has only started one of those. He averages just 23.8 minutes per game, and his shooting percentages are mediocre at 42 percent field goals and 35 percent triples. Kuzma averages the third-most of any Laker at 12.2 per game, but he really should be over at least 15 points per game. Avery Bradley is the No. 6 scorer at only eight points per game, though Bradley is known to be a defensive pest and that is his primary focus while on the court.
Kuzma, meanwhile, is known to be a shooter but not really excelling in that lone aspect of his offense. Rondo, as mentioned, comes off the bench to play 21 minutes a game, picking up nearly six assists in those limited minutes. The biggest pleasant surprise has undoubtedly been Dwight Howard. While his numbers are far from eye-popping, he has embraced the role of a defensive-minded presence whose job is to protect the rim and grab boards. Howard has averaged just under 20 minutes a game, providing just under seven points, seven rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He has rotated well on defense, communicated, and been something of a second-unit leader. The Lakers are pleased with their low-risk investment in Howard, which drew more than its fair share of criticism even though the Lakers were not contractually bound to the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
To be sure, he is not the “same guy” that averaged over 21 points per game for the Orlando Magic. That All-Star form is firmly in the past, but Howard’s defensive energy is partly responsible for the Lakers’ overall turnaround as a team on the defensive end. Davis is, naturally, an even bigger part of this picture, but the Lakers were expected to be a slow team on defense, and that has been nowhere close to true, even with Davis often playing the 4-spot.
In fact, so many things have fallen into place that other than getting better play out of its No. 3 scorer in Kuzma, it is hard to find any other areas of overt weakness in the Lakers approach thus far in 2019-20.
Phoenix is 21-32 and seeded No. 13 in the West. It trails the No. 8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies by 5.5 games for the West’s final playoff spot. The Suns have lost seven of its last 10 including its last outing. It is 11-14 on the road SU this season.
Phoenix is still rounding into shape after missing starting center DeAndre Ayton the majority of the season thus far. In his 14 games since returning, though, Ayton has been very good. He has started nine games now, and he has averaged 17.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 31 minutes a night. With Kelly Oubre emerging as a legitimate No. 2 or No. 3 threat behind Devin Booker, the Suns offense seems relatively set with three-star scorers. It is still defense that has eluded the Suns, though it has improved a lot in that regard. Phoenix is surrendering 114.1 per game (The Suns average 113) and it still has not really been able to clamp down on teams.
The Pacers hung 112 on Phoenix the last outing while limiting the Suns to just 87, and though the Suns scored 118 in the game prior against San Antonio, it allowed 120 to the Spurs and lost that one, too. Phoenix is the third-best team in the Pacific Division but it trails the No. 2 L.A. Clippers by 12.5 games. There is still a lot of games for the Suns to start making up, and it will begin with vastly improving its porous and still lackluster defense.