NBA Predictions: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers
Thursday, 1/5/12, 10:30 PM EST, TV:  TNT
Opening Point Spread:  Portland -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Portland -3.5
Opening Total:  189.5
Current Total:  186.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Los Angeles Lakers are a dangerous underdog Thursday night

Los Angeles has won four of its last five games since dropping two in a row to start the season, as it faces a Western Conference rival Thursday night inside the Rose Garden.  The Lakers have been thrilled with the recent play of young center Andrew Bynum, who has averaged 22.7 points and 17.0 rebounds over the past three games.  “We all know the amount of talent he has, and he’s really worked on it,” stated Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers won three of four meetings with the Blazers during the 2010-11 campaign, marking their first series victory since 2004-05.  Los Angeles is 5-5 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points.

The Lakers will still rely heavily on the play of Bryant in hostile territory, averaging 33.5 points in his last 15 games at the Rose Garden.  Los Angeles has been happy with his performance since suffering a torn right wrist ligament during the exhibition season.  Anybody that follows the NBA closely are aware of this franchise’s problems on this particular road trip, facing a team that has won 13 of its last 14 home games.

Portland has won 10 of its last 12 home games versus the Los Angeles Lakers and comes off a 103-93 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder as 4.5-point road underdogs.  “That’s the way we’re capable of playing,” stated Trail Blazers guard Raymond Felton.  Forward LaMarcus Aldridge is the main offensive weapon, averaging a team-best 19.8 points per game versus the Lakers a year ago.  Another player to watch is Nicolas Batum coming off the bench, scoring 19.3 points per game in the series during the 2010-11 campaign.  Portland is 7-16 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5 to 6 points.

The Trail Blazers have scored better than 100 points in four of their first five games for the first time since the 1992-93 season.  Portland has been very happy with point guard Raymond Felton, averaging 7.0 assists per contests while scoring 12.8 points per game.  Aldridge has likely found his stride after a season-high 30-point performance against the Thunder last time out, as he was averaging 20.3 points coming into that contest.  “I’ve been tired,” he stated after the game.  “This is my second game feeling decent.”

Bettors will likely back the Lakers due to the underdog being 22-8 ATS in the series, while the Blazers are 1-4-1 ATS as a home favorite of 4.5 points or less.

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