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Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Monday, March 9.

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Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves, 8:05PM ET

The loss of their leading scorer has the Minnesota Timberwolves headed toward an miserable end to their season. Without their top player, the Washington Wizards have endured one of their worst in franchise history.

As the teams continue to close in on the NBA lottery, they will both look to end losing streaks Monday night in Minnesota.

The Timberwolves are attempting to avoid a 10th straight defeat and 11th in a row at home, while the Wizards will try to prevent a sixth consecutive loss and 11th in 12 road games.

Minnesota (18-44) is 1-11 since losing emerging star center Al Jefferson to a torn ACL in his right knee.

Playing without Gilbert Arenas, Washington (14-49) may post its fewest wins in an 82-game season - it won 19 games in 2000-01. The Wizards won 18 games in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season and went 18-62 in their inaugural season as the Chicago Packers in 1961-62.

NBA Free Pick: Minnesota  – Best Line: -3.5 Sportsbetting

Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets, 9:05PM ET

Heading into last month's All-Star break, it appeared the Denver Nuggets would easily make the postseason, while the Houston Rockets would be in the mix for one of the Western Conference's final playoff spots. Since then, those scenarios have been reversed.

The Rockets look for their 10th win in 12 games since the break Monday night when they visit the slumping Nuggets, who are trying to avoid losing for the eighth time in 12 games.

Denver (40-24) won nine of 11 games before the break to build a four-game lead atop the Northwest with the West's third-best record. Very little has gone right for the Nuggets since, dropping one-half game back of Utah in the division and to seventh in the conference.

The Nuggets lost to lowly Sacramento 114-106 on Sunday, their seventh defeat in 11 games since the break.

NBA Free Pick: Houston – Best Line: +3.5 Sportsbetting

Los Angeles Lakers at Portland, 10:05PM ET

After breaking out of their mini-slump with a couple of easy home victories over lesser opponents, the schedule is about to get much tougher for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers open a three-game road trip Monday night, looking to avoid losing their seventh straight game in Portland against a Trail Blazers team seeking its 12th consecutive victory at the Rose Garden.

Los Angeles (50-12) owns the league's best record and has built an eight-game lead atop the Western Conference, but looked rather ordinary a week ago after losses at Denver and Phoenix.

The Lakers bounced back Tuesday with a 99-89 win over Memphis, and became the first team to reach 50 victories with Friday's 110-90 win over Minnesota.

NBA Free Pick: Lakers – Best Line: -2.5 Sportsbetting

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