Pau Gasol registered his fifth double-double on Tuesday, plus has a triple-double this season.
The second half of Thursday night’s TNT pro basketball doubleheader will be must-see TV for those tuning in to watch the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers attempt to start the campaign with a perfect 9-0 record. Standing in the Lakers’ way will be a Denver Nuggets club that defeated the Lakers in three of four matchups last season.
Pete Korner, who makes the NBA betting line for the majority of Nevada sports books as owner of the Sports Club, opened the Lakers as three-point road favorites in his overnight line. The ‘total’ was set at 214 points.
Though the Lakers have had a relatively easy schedule to begin the season, it’s still very impressive to begin the campaign with an 8-0 record after last season’s grueling run to the NBA title.
Six of the Lakers’ first eight opponents have been against teams that had a record below .500 last season. That includes games against Minnesota (15-67), Sacramento (25-57) and Golden State (26-56). The Lakers also played six of those first eight games at Staples Center.
Phil Jackson’s troops raised their ledger to 8-0 during Tuesday’s 99-94 victory against Minnesota. But the Lakers didn’t come close to covering as 16 ½-point home favorites, which lowered their spread record to 5-3.
Though the combined 193 points dipped well ‘under’ the 216-point closing total, the ‘over’ is still 5-3 in the Lakers’ first eight contests. Tuesday’s offensive output marked the first time the Lakers failed to register triple digits this season.
Despite Tuesday’s less-than-impressive offensive showing, the Lakers are still averaging a league-best 112.1 points per game. That lofty mark has been helped by a league-best 47.4 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Los Angeles is ranked 12th on defense, allowing 99.6 points per outing.
The Lakers seemed to play down to their competition against a lowly Minnesota squad that saw its record fall to 1-7. The Lakers held the Timberwolves to just 38 percent shooting from the field and also forced 25 turnovers, which resulted in 21 Lakers points.
Minnesota out-scored the Lakers in the paint (44-40) and out-rebounded them, 54-42. That included a career-high 24 boards from UCLA product Kevin Love. Ironically, the Lakers and T’Wolves entered the contest tied for the league lead in rebounding at 48.7 boards per game.
Kobe Bryant helped the Lakers overcome a third-quarter deficit with his game-high 33 points. Pau Gasol had just eight points and three rebounds in the first half after an impressive triple-double against Portland two nights earlier. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Denver saw its record drop to 4-4 SU and 3-4-1 ATS after suffering an embarrassing 144-113 setback in Tuesday’s contest at Indiana. It was Denver’s third game in four nights, all on the road.
The Nuggets actually closed as one-point road favorites against the Pacers, with the combined 257 points soaring ‘over’ the 209 ½-point closing total. Nevertheless, the ‘under’ is 6-2 in Denver’s first eight contests.
Denver’s defense allowed the Pacers to make their first 20 shots of the third quarter. Indiana missed out on a perfect period when Josh McRoberts was off on a 26-footer with 1.9 seconds left. The Nuggets entered the final stanza trailing, 113-76.
Ty Lawson led Denver with 19 points and Arron Afflalo added 17. Carmelo Anthony scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
Indiana shot 52 percent from the field in the first half to take a 59-49 lead at the break, but that was just the beginning. The Pacers had 17 assists in the record-setting third quarter.
Denver’s poor showing dropped the club’s defensive ranking to 17th, as George Karl’s crew is allowing 102.4 point per game. The Nuggets are scoring 104.0 points per contest, which ranks 10th.
The Nuggets captured the season series against the Lakers last season, 3-1, with the ‘under’ also going 3-1. The Nuggets had success against the Lakers in both home games, notching wins of 98-96 and 105-79.
The ‘under’ is 13-4 in the Nuggets’ last 17 series meetings against the Lakers and 8-2 in the last 10 matchups in Denver.
It is interesting to note that Denver is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 home games against a team with a winning record and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 outings off a loss of 10 points or more.
The Lakers and Nuggets are set to tip on TNT at 7:30 p.m. PT Thursday following the Heat, Celtics game from Miami.
The Lakers will have two days of rest before returning home for a Sunday clash against the Phoenix Suns. Denver won’t play until next Monday when they travel to the desert for a match with those same Suns.