L.A. Lakers at San Antonio Spurs 01.17.2007
As the season approaches its mid-point, Phil Jackson's Lakers team will be presented with the opportunity to prove they belong in the discussion with the elite teams in the Western Conference. Los Angeles has a very solid 25-13 record, yet is only 7-9 on the road so better play will have to come in the purple uniforms. They face 11 of the next 14 games away from Staples Center, starting tonight in San Antonio.
San Antonio enters play after having its four game winning streak wrecked with a 99-87 loss at Chicago. The Spurs neither shot well (39.4%) nor played typical Greg Popovich defense, as the Bulls stuffed in 49.4% of their shots. Local websites in San Antonio have suggest point guard Tony Parker is playing hurt after he made just three baskets in nine attempts in the Windy City. Parker missed a game with a sore hip about a week ago. Coach Popovich dismissed that notion as poppycock. "It would have made more sense if he was hurt. But he's fine, which is not the way he played, if you catch my drift," Popovich said.
Back when Shaquille O'Neal was in his prime and Robert Horry was a Laker, this was the best rivalry going in the West. Those two with a young Kobe battling with "The Admiral" David Robinson and later they became great with the addition of Tim Duncan. The oddsmakers have made the Spurs an 8.5-point favorite with a total of 197.5. The San Antonio defense is reason enough, being the second best in points allowed 90.6. The Spurs have held the upper hand the last three years in games played down near the Rio Grande, with 7-2 and 5-4 against the spread record vs. the Lakers.
Los Angeles has been brilliant as underdog this season with 13-3 against the spread record and will need to shake lethargy that has seen them lose four straight to the spread. San Antonio is 13-3 against the spread in home games off an upset loss as a road favorite over the last 3 seasons wasting opponents by 14.3 PPG in next outing.
As shown on the basketball betting Odds page already today the first move on this game went towards Los Angeles, with the line dropping from +9 to current +8.5. This ESPN telecast starts at 9 Eastern, thus plenty of time to study line moves on this and other NBA games.
About the Author: Bob is an experienced sports writer and handicapper who has written for the sports industry for over a decade. He has been a regular contributer to Sports Scene, a sports consultant for television's 33 Made and other major motion pictures.