LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (38-17)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-28)
Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Clippers -3, Total: 200
The battle for Los Angeles is on again as the Clippers take their own court as the road team to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Thursday night.
So far this season, the Lakers have lost both of their games to the Clippers. The first contest, the Clippers won by 10 points, but in the second game the Clippers won by only five points. Over the past three seasons, the Clippers are 6-3 ATS versus the Lakers, covering in both of the games played this season as well. PF Pau Gasol remains out for the Lakers, but PF Earl Clark (foot) is probable. Clippers SG Jamal Crawford (shoulder) is also probable.
Which L.A. team will reign supreme on Thursday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For NBA Best Bets, StatFox Scott is in the midst of a monster run, going 15-2 ATS (88%) since Feb. 3, and improving his record to an impressive 57.4% ATS (85-63-1) for the season. The experts are a collective 57.3% ATS (51-38) in the month of February. StatFox Gary is 70% ATS (7-3) in the past nine days, and 60% ATS (9-6) for the month of February. For NBA Totals, the experts are a strong 44-32-1 (58%) in the past 20 days with Gary at 17-9 (65%) and StatFox Brian going 14-11-1 (56%) since Jan. 25. For the season, Scott is a whopping 57% (75-57) in Totals, while Gary is at 52.3% (68-62-4).
The Clippers have won three straight games and it is now apparent that as their star PG Chris Paul goes, the team goes. Over the past two games, Paul is averaging 11.0 APG. He has scored 20+ points in two of the past three contests, and the Clippers have blown out all three of their opponents since Paul struggled against Miami on Feb. 8. His knee is finally starting to feel better, which has resulted in the Clippers starting to beat teams down like they did early in the season. Over the past two games, PF Blake Griffin is averaging 20.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 5.0 APG while also shooting above 60% from the floor. Griffin has been hitting his mid-range jumper, which really spaces out the floor for his teammates. SF Matt Barnes has made the most out of his minutes the past two games, averaging 10.0 PPG in those contests while also hitting 5-of-10 threes. SG Jamal Crawford has been a great sixth man with 17.0 PPG this season, including 20.7 PPG on 53% FG in the past six games. The Clippers bench has been so good all season and it is what really sets them apart from other teams in the West.
The Lakers have won three of their past five games, and are coming off a 91-85 win against the Suns on Tuesday. SG Kobe Bryant had a game to forget as he went 1-for-8 from the field with just four points and eight turnovers. Bryant did finish the game with nine assists though, and his poor shooting performance will be forgotten when the team takes the floor against the Clippers. That's because Bryant has averaged 39.0 PPG on 60.4% FG in the two games versus the Clips this season, and averages 26.0 PPG on 47% FG in 62 career meetings with them. PF Earl Clark has really stepped up since Gasol got injured. Over the past five games, Clark is averaging 13.0 PPG (49.1% FG) and 8.4 RPG. He is listed as probable for Thursday's game as he experienced some swelling in his foot. C Dwight Howard was absolutely dominant in the win over Phoenix Tuesday with 19 points while also grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking two shots. Howard and Bryant haven’t had the best chemistry so far this season, but the potential is there and if they can ever figure it out, the Lakers will be a dangerous team. Until then, they’ll need to keep scrapping away to pick up wins and get into the playoffs.