The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers
have silenced all their critics as they go for their eighth straight win Tuesday night in Atlanta
The Lakers (45-19 straight-up, 31-32-1 against the spread) are also getting it done from an ATS perspective, 6-1 during the winning streak.
Coach Phil Jackson’s team saved its best for Sunday at the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were 29-2 SU at home heading in, but were overmatched in a 99-83 defeat as three-point favorites.
That game was over at halftime with a 28-point margin. Kobe Bryant led the way with 26 points, but it was the defense that stepped up and held the Spurs to 36 percent shooting.
The 182 combined points scored went ‘under’ the 191 ½-point total. The ‘under’ is 4-0 in Los Angeles’ last four games, allowing just 83.3 PPG. The defense is allowing 87 PPG during the last seven and one went into overtime.
Ironically, L.A. began this winning streak at home against Atlanta. The Feb. 22 encounter was another mismatch with a 104-80 final as eight-point favorites. The twin towers of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol dominated the boards and there was a 54-32 advantage on the glass overall.
The Lakers are 23-11 SU and 19-14-1 ATS on the road this year. They’re 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four road games. That includes tough venues of Portland and Oklahoma City, in addition to San Antonio.
The Hawks (37-26 SU, 28-35 ATS) are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference (Los Angeles is third in the West), but are a team in transition.
Kirk Hinrich is starting at point guard after recently being acquired from Washington. Mike Bibby headed North in the swap, although he’s now with Miami. Atlanta is 3-3 SU and ATS since the trade, but 0-2 SU and ATS in the last two.
The last game was Sunday at home against the Knicks. New York got the 92-79 win as 3 ½-point ‘dogs despite missing point guard Chauncey Billups. Atlanta got to the line just nine times.
The 171 combined points scored went way ‘under’ the 202 ½-point total. The ‘under’ is 9-2 in Atlanta’s last 11 games, the Hawks scoring 100 points just once in that span.
This matchup Tuesday is a tough one. Josh Smith (16.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG) and Al Horford (16 PPG, 9.9 RPG) are very good players at power forward and center. However, they give up three and two inches respectively to Gasol and Bynum. Look for more minutes from Atlanta’s backup big men to use up some fouls.
Guard Joe Johnson (19.1 PPG) is the team’s leading scorer, but has a tough assignment going against Bryant. A big scoring night from sixth man Jamal Crawford (15 PPG) is a necessity.
The Hawks do have precedence for beating the Lakers at home. They’re 3-0 SU and ATS the last three years. Bynum was injured last year, a 109-92 Hawks win as 1 ½-point ‘dogs.
Atlanta is just 18-11 SU and 10-19 ATS at home this year. It’s 1-5 ATS in its last six home games.
Atlanta is just 2-9 ATS in its last 11 against the Western Conference.
There are no significant injuries to report for ether team. L.A. just got back reserve forward Matt Barnes (knee). Smith (knee) also returned last game after missing two contests.
Tip-off will be 4 p.m. (PT) from Philips Arena and broadcast locally. The Lakers can’t afford to look ahead to a Thursday tilt at Miami. Atlanta next visits Chicago on Friday.