Pau Gasol has averaged 22.8 PPG so far on the Lakers’ road trip.
The Los Angeles Lakers might never want to return to Southern California after a wildly successful road trip so far. They meet the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon in a nationally televised contest.
Los Angeles (38-16 straight-up, 25-28-1 against the spread) played lackluster basketball during a recent homestand (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS), but has won and ‘covered’ four straight since departing for a seven-game trip last Saturday.
Coach Phil Jackson’s team seems to be peaking after dispatching the hated Celtics on Thursday night (92-86 as two-point ‘dogs). Some feared a letdown for the Friday night game at the NY Knicks, but it was even more impressive (113-96 as three-point favorites.
The 209 combined points scored went ‘under’ the 211 ½-point total. The ‘under’ is 3-0 in the Lakers’ last three games, allowing just 88.7 PPG.
Kobe Bryant had 33 points against New York on 12-of-17 shooting from the field. Center Andrew Bynum had 12 points and nine rebounds and seems more motivated after being mentioned in trade rumors for Denver’s Carmelo Anthony.
This is a huge game Sunday for Bynum. His biggest asset is to match up with physical centers like Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol is much better suited at power forward, where he can create offensive mismatches in the low post.
Orlando (34-21 SU, 24-30-1 ATS) has hit a lull following an initial surge after the dramatic roster makeover that brought over Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson.
The Magic are just 9-9 SU (7-10-1 ATS) since their nine-game winning streak (8-1 ATS) ended on January 8. They haven’t beaten a winning team in over a month.
Orlando’s last game on Friday was a prime example of its problems. New Orleans came to town on a four-game losing streak and minus center Emeka Okafor. Trevor Ariza (ankle) returned after missing three games, but was just 4-of 16 shooting. The Hornets still won 99-93 as 8 ½-point ‘dogs.
The 192 combined points scored went ‘under’ the 192 ½-point total. The ‘under’ is 5-0 in Orlando’s last five games with the offense scoring just 96.6 PPG. The ‘under’ is 8-2 in Orlando’s last 10 home games overall.
Howard (22.5 PPG) has done his part offensively and on the boards (13.9 RPG). He took advantage of his matchup with New Orleans’ backup pivot Aaron Gray to score 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. However, he took just one shot in the fourth quarter as the team was wary of him being fouled and shooting free throws (4-of 12 from the line).
Turkoglu is a player who’s capable of stepping up late in games, but he’s been bothered by injuries and is shooting 34.9 percent the last nine games (9.1 PPG). He did score 16 points against New Orleans (7-of-10 shooting), so hopefully he’s breaking out of his slump.
Orlando has been without power forward Brandon Bass the last six games. He’s undersized, but brings a much more physical presence than backup Ryan Anderson. Bass is questionable for Sunday, although Gasol should have a nice day offensively either way.
Orlando is 19-8 SU at home and 13-14 ATS. Those numbers have dipped recently at 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in the last five.
This is the first meeting between the teams this year. The Magic won at home last year 96-94, but failed to cover the 2 ½-point spread. Los Angeles is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five meetings overall and the underdog is 11-1-1 in the last 13.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in the last four meetings and 7-1 in the last eight.
ABC will have the broadcast at 12:30 p.m. (PT) from Amway Center, right after another great one in Miami at Boston.