LOS ANGELES LAKERS (30-30)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (43-16)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -9, Total: 2144
The surging Lakers will try to get over .500 on Tuesday night, but to do so, they'll have to beat a Thunder team that has won 22 of its past 24 home games.
Los Angeles is 13-5 SU in its past 18 games, but is still a dreadful 10-19 (SU and ATS) on the road this season. Oklahoma City is 26-4 SU (21-9 ATS) at home this season, scoring 116.5 PPG during a three-game home win streak. These clubs are meeting for the fourth and final time this season in a series in which the Thunder won the first two matchups, but the Lakers prevailed 105-96 in the most recent meeting on Jan. 27 in Los Angeles.
Can the Thunder win and cover the monster spread over the surging Lakers? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Both StatFox Gary -- who is 6-0 ATS in March and 82% ATS (14-3) since Feb. 20 -- and StatFox Scott (30-15 ATS, 67% since Feb. 3) have been on fire in NBA Best Bets. Scott is now 57% ATS (100-76-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (77-67-4). StatFox Brian is also heating up with a 75% ATS (6-2) mark in his past five days, and a 58% ATS record (14-10) since the All-Star break. Since February began, the experts are a collective 58.2% ATS (106-76), including 59.1% ATS (13-9) in March. For NBA Totals, Scott is catching fire with an 8-3-1 (73%) mark since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 57% (84-64-1) in Totals.
The L.A. offense ranks 6th in the league with 102.3 PPG, and has been sizzling in the past six games with 108.3 PPG on 50.3% FG and 44% threes. The Lakers pull down 44.7 RPG (4th in NBA), but the team also surrenders the 8th-most points in the NBA (101.1 PPG). SG Kobe Bryant (27.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.6 APG) has been on fire in the past five games with 34.8 PPG on 57% FG (11-of-22 threes), 7.2 RPG and 5.8 APG. In the season series with Oklahoma City, he has a hefty 28.0 PPG and 8.0 APG. C Dwight Howard (16.1 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.3 BPG) has also played well versus the Thunder with 15.5 PPG and 14.0 RPG in the two games. But he still continues to struggle horribly from the free-throw line, making just 5-of-20 free throws during his three-game streak of double-doubles (12.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG). PG Steve Nash (12.1 PPG, 7.2 APG) continues to deliver more offense with 13.2 PPG on 51% FG (46% threes) in the past 18 games, helping his team to a 13-5 record over this stretch. Nash had a double-double in Sunday's win over Atlanta (15 points, 10 assists), but hasn't a pedestrian 12.0 PPG and 6.0 APG in two meetings with the Thunder this season. PF Antawn Jamison (9.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG) has 13.3 PPG in the season series with Oklahoma City, and enters this game on an eight-game streak of scoring in double-figures, averaging 15.1 PPG on 51% FG and 13-of-26 threes during this surge.
Oklahoma City is an excellent offensive team with 106.7 PPG (2nd in NBA), making 48.3% of its shots (3rd in league), including 39.1% threes (2nd in NBA). The Thunder are also strong defensively, allowing just 97.4 PPG on 43.0% FG and 35.1% threes. SF Kevin Durant (28.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.6 APG) has destroyed the Lakers this season with 37.7 PPG (51% FG) and 6.3 RPG in the three meetings. He also pumped in 35 points and grabbed nine boards in the win at the Clippers on Sunday. PG Russell Westbrook (23.4 PPG, 7.9 APG, 5.2 RPG) has also exploded on the Lakers for 25.7 PPG and 10.3 APG this season. Westbrook has scored at least 20 points in nine straight games, averaging 28.4 PPG on 51% FG (13-of-25 threes) to go along with 6.6 APG. He had 29 points, 10 assists and six rebounds against the Clippers despite being mostly guarded by Chris Paul, who is one of the best defensive guards in the league. SG Kevin Martin (14.5 PPG) usually provides healthy scoring off the bench, but has struggled with four single-digit scoring outputs in the past eight games, tallying just 10.1 PPG (41% FG) over this span. Martin hasn't done much against L.A. though, scoring 11.7 PPG in the three games. PF Serge Ibaka (13.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.9 BPG) has averaged only 10.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG in the season series with the Lakers, but has scored at least 16 points in each of his past four games, averaging 17.0 PPG on 64% shooting.