LOS ANGELES LAKERS (15-19)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (27-10)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -13.5, Total: 215.5
The Spurs try to extend their home winning streak to 11 when they invite the short-handed Lakers for visit on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles is 0-4 (SU and ATS) so far in 2013, and it will once again be missing three frontcourt players for this game -- C Dwight Howard (shoulder), PF Pau Gasol (concussion) and C Jordan Hill (hip). Without this trio on Tuesday night, the Lakers allowed 125 points on 55.2% FG in a 13-point loss to Houston. San Antonio has dropped its past two road games, but the team is 7-3 ATS during its 10-game surge at AT&T Center. The Spurs have won three straight meetings in this series and are 7-2 ATS in the past nine matchups with the Lakers.
Can the Lakers keep the final margin respectable on Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have posted a strong 53.3% ATS (56-49-1) mark since Dec. 22. StatFox Brian is 16-8 ATS (67%) since Dec. 23, while StatFox Scott is 11-5 ATS (69%) since Dec. 29, giving him a season Best Bets mark of 56% ATS (49-39), with Brian (55% ATS) and StatFox Gary (51% ATS) also profitable. The four experts are collectively 52% ATS (210-198-11) on Best Bets for the season. For NBA Totals, the experts are an excellent 31-23 (57.4%) since Dec. 28 with StatFox Brian going 11-6 (65%) during this span. Scott continues to have a great year at 51-36 (59%) for his season NBA totals.
The Lakers offense has been pretty strong during their losing skid, pumping in 104.5 PPG on 45% FG in the four defeats. But the defense continues to struggle, surrendering 111.8 PPG on 49% shooting. SG Kobe Bryant (NBA-high 30.5 PPG) finally had an off-night in Houston with just 20 points on 8-of-22 FG. That ended a streak of 17 straight games with 27+ points. But he's been sharp in his past four meetings with San Antonio, compiling 24.8 PPG on 51% FG. In the 84-82 home loss to the Spurs on Nov. 13, Bryant scored 28 points (12-of-19 FG) with eight assists. SF Metta World Peace assumed more of the scoring role in Tuesday's loss, leading L.A. with a season-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting (4-of-5 threes) to go along with six boards and four steals. PG Steve Nash tallied a double-double (16 points, 10 assists) while making 6-of-7 shots from inside the arc. His penetration will be a key in this game, and Nash has played very well at AT&T Center in recent seasons, averaging 16.8 PPG (51% FG) and 9.0 APG in the past 11 trips to San Antonio. For the Lakers to keep this game close, new starters C Robert Sacre and G Darius Morris will need to play well again. In Tuesday's loss, Sacre had 10 points and four blocks in his 28 minutes, while Morris posted a team-best +6 rating, with 12 points (5-of-7 FG) in just 17 minutes of action.
Spurs PG Tony Parker has been great all season (19.1 PPG, 7.2 APG), but he has really excelled at home, where he's knocking down 42.1% of his threes and has 7.6 APG and just 2.1 TOPG. But he'll need to take better care of the basketball after committing five of his team's 19 turnovers in the shocking 95-88 loss in New Orleans on Monday. Parker has stepped up to what is usually a challenge of facing the Lakers with 17.9 PPG on 49% FG in 36 career games against them. This includes his 19 points, seven assists and just one turnover in the November win in Los Angeles. PF Tim Duncan has also been outstanding this season with 17.6 PPG (51% FG) and 9.6 RPG, and he continues to be a thorn in the side of the Lakers with 19.4 PPG and 11.3 RPG in 52 career games against them. During the Spurs three-game win streak in this series, Duncan has 19.3 PPG on 58% FG with 8.3 RPG, 3.3 APG and 2.9 BPG. San Antonio's other double-digit scorers this season are SGs Manu Ginobili (12.7 PPG) and Gary Neal (10.7 PPG). Ginobili is heating up with 16.4 PPG on 49% FG (46% threes) in the past seven games, while Neal is finally getting healthy again, making 9-of-18 shots in the past two contests.