LOS ANGELES LAKERS (17-23)
at CHICAGO BULLS (23-16)
Tip-off: Monday, 9:35 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -1, Total: 194.5
The short-handed Bulls try to get back on track Monday night when they host the slumping Lakers.
Los Angeles opened its three-game road trip with a 108-103 loss in Toronto on Sunday, and has now lost eight of its past 10 games SU (3-7 ATS). The Lakers are a horrific 5-13 SU (6-12 ATS) in road games this season. Chicago has been a horrible bet at home though (5-17 ATS), and is just 3-5 SU (2-6 ATS) at United Center since Christmas Day. These teams last met on Christmas in 2011, a game the Bulls won 88-87. Although they also won the last home meeting in this series (88-84 on Dec. 10, 2010), the Lakers won each of the previous seven matchups between these clubs. In addition to PG Derrick Rose (knee) having yet to play this season, Chicago will likely be missing SF Luol Deng on Monday who is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury.
Which team will prevail on Monday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Brian is 25-20 ATS (56%) on NBA Best Bets since Dec. 23, giving him a 53% ATS mark (64-58-3) for the season. StatFox Scott also has a season Best Bets mark of 53% ATS (57-51), with Gary at 52% ATS (50-47-4) for the season. The four experts are collectively 50.3% ATS (248-245-11) on Best Bets for the season. For NBA Totals, Scott is 6-2 in the past three days, boosting his impressive season NBA Totals record to 59-42 (58%). Brian has gone 6-3 in NBA Totals since Jan. 13.
The Lakers continue to struggle on the defensive end, surrendering 101.6 PPG (5th-most in NBA), but they have been potent offensively with 103.1 PPG (5th-most in NBA). C Dwight Howard (17.3 PPG, 12.4 RPG) is the biggest reason the team ranks third in the league in rebounding (45.1 RPG), but the Lakers really missed him after he was ejected in Sunday's loss in Toronto. Howard has faced Chicago 27 times in his career, and he has been especially potent during a six-game streak of double-doubles against the Bulls where he's averaged 24.7 PPG (64% FG) and 13.7 RPG. The NBA's leading scorer, SG Kobe Bryant (29.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.8 APG), has pumped in at least 20 points in 24 straight games, averaging 31.4 PPG on 46% FG during this impressive streak. He has also scored 20+ points in each of his past seven meetings with the Bulls, averaging 26.1 PPG (45% FG) and 4.7 RPG during this stretch. One positive that came from Sunday's loss was the emergence of PF Pau Gasol (12.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG), who scored a season-high 25 points on 10-of-15 FG. He has missed time recently with concussion symptoms, but he has really thrived against the Bulls since coming to L.A., averaging 19.7 PPG (53% FG) and 10.3 RPG in seven meetings. After Howard was ejected on Sunday, PF Earl Clark (5.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) stepped up with 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. PG Steve Nash (10.8 PPG, 8.8 APG) matched a season high with 16 points in Sunday's loss, while adding nine assists.
Chicago is missing its two top scorers in Rose and Deng (17.4 PPG), and another starter's status is also in question with C Joakim Noah (12.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 2.0 BPG) getting benched for the final 22:53 of Chicago's overtime loss to Memphis on Saturday. He is expected to start on Monday, as the Bulls are hoping he responds to this situation in a positive way. The one player that Chicago will definitely rely on to score is PF Carlos Boozer (16.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG), who has at least 15 points in each of the past 12 games, averaging 21.8 PPG (51% FG) and 12.2 RPG during this streak. Boozer will have his hands full with L.A.'s size down low, but his career numbers versus the Lakers are pretty strong: 20 G, 16.2 PPG, 52% FG and 9.8 RPG. With Deng out, the Bulls will also count on SF Jimmy Butler (5.7 PPG) to keep up his scoring surge from the past two games, where he has 15.5 PPG on 50% FG and 12-of-12 FT. He scored a career-high 18 points on Saturday, including 12 in the fourth quarter. PF Taj Gibson (7.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG) logged 31 minutes in Saturday's loss, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds.