CHICAGO BULLS (35-27)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (32-31)
Tip-off: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -5.5, Total: 194
After getting over the .500 mark with a huge comeback win Friday, the Lakers will try to extend their win streak Sunday afternoon when the Bulls come to town.
Chicago has been scuffling since the start of February, going 7-10 SU (9-8 ATS) and not winning back-to-back games once during this stretch. But the Bulls remain one of the league's best road bets at 18-11-1 ATS (62%) away from home this season. Los Angeles is just 14-18 ATS at home this season, but has scored 111.4 PPG (48% FG, 40% threes) during a five-game home win streak. Despite trailing by 15 points to Toronto in the second quarter on Friday, the Lakers were able to come back and win 118-116 in overtime. Two nights earlier, L.A. erased a 25-point deficit to win at New Orleans. Although the Lakers used to dominate the Bulls, beating them seven straight times from 2007 to November 2010, Chicago has prevailed in each of the past three meetings, including a 95-83 home win on Jan. 21.
Can the Lakers extend their home win streak comfortably on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts continue to sizzle in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 79% ATS (11-3) in March and 76% ATS (19-6) since Feb. 20, StatFox Brian is 69% ATS in March (9-4), including 75% ATS (6-2) in the past six days, StatFox Scott is 62% ATS (33-20) since Feb. 3 and StatFox Dave is 58% ATS (7-5) in the past six days. Since February began, the experts are a collective 58% ATS (124-91), including 56% ATS (31-24) in March. Scott is now 56% ATS (103-81-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (82-70-4) and Brian is 52% ATS (99-93-3). For NBA Totals, Gary is a perfect 3-0 in the past three days, while Scott is 63% (10-6-1) since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 56% (86-67-1) in Totals.
Chicago was able to hold off Utah on Friday by an 89-88 score despite not having PF Taj Gibson (knee), SG Richard Hamilton (back) or PG Kirk Hinrich (foot) in that defeat. Hinrich and Hamilton comprised the starting backcourt in the win over L.A. in January, combining for 35 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, so they will sorely be missed on Sunday. The Bulls also beat the Jazz despite their leading scorer, SF Luol Deng (16.3 PPG) netting just 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Deng has made just 38% of his shots (2-for-15 threes) over the past five games, failing to score 20 points in any of those contests. But the other four Bulls starters all played well on Friday. PF Carlos Boozer (15.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG) had 22 points and 10 rebounds, SG Marco Belinelli (10.0 PPG) also scored 22 points with four rebounds, C Joakim Noah (11.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG) finished with nine points and 13 boards (8 offensive) while PF Nate Robinson (11.7 PPG, 4.2 APG) produced 14 points (4-of-13 FG), seven assists and six rebounds. And in the Jan. 21 win over the Lakers, Boozer had 14 points and six boards, Belinelli scored 15 on 5-of-8 FG (3-of-3 threes), Noah chipped in six points, 13 rebounds (5 offensive) and six blocks, while Robinson netted 11 points (3-of-4 threes) in just 13 minutes in that victory.
The L.A. offense has been great throughout the season with 102.7 PPG on 46.0% FG and 36.1% threes. The defense is still lacking though, allowing 101.7 PPG on 45.7% FG and 35.9% threes. SG Kobe Bryant (27.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.7 APG) has scored at least 29 points in eight straight games, averaging 35.9 PPG on 56% FG and 48% threes during this hot streak. After scoring 42 points with 12 assists in the comeback win over the Hornets on Wednesday, he nearly matched that production with 41 points and 12 assists in Friday's victory versus the Raptors. C Dwight Howard (16.2 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.4 BPG) has grabbed at least a dozen rebounds in each of his past nine games, averaging 14.1 RPG during this stretch. He also has 20+ points in each of the past two victories, averaging 22.0 PPG on 58% FG. PG Steve Nash (12.3 PPG, 6.8 APG) has done a nice job with his offense in the past seven games (15.4 PPG on 49% FG and 52% threes), but has just seven assists and six turnovers in his past three games combined. PF Antawn Jamison (9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG) has also shot extremely well recently with 13.1 PPG on 49% FG (42% threes) while pulling down 6.2 RPG in his past 11 games. Nash was the Lakers' high scorer in the Jan. 21 loss in Chicago with 18 points (7-of-12 FG), but Bryant (16 points on 7-of-22 FG) and Howard (eight points on 2-of-5 FG) did not play well at all. SF Earl Clark (8.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG) provided quality numbers against the Bulls with 12 points and eight rebounds, but finished the game with a minus-12 rating.