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NBA: Lessons Learned

NBA: Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned
The Prez

The Raptors may start a fire sale soon.

Let the Chris Bosh trade rumors begin in earnest again. Toronto is on a five-game skid entering Friday (0-5 ATS), and this is simply an awful defensive team. The Raptors allowed a high of 146 points in their losing streak and a low of 106. Toronto has allowed their opponents double digits in every game since Nov. 13 and Wednesday’s 146-115 loss to the Hawks said it all for this team.

The Hawks tied the Warriors for the highest offensive output of the season (and had 42 points in the second quarter), putting nine players in double figures. The NBA record is 10, and Maurice Evans finished just a free throw from making it 10 for the Hawks. Atlanta’s Al Horford had 24 points in 23 minutes. Josh Smith had 16 in 21 minutes. And Bosh? Two points, his lowest total in two years. Take the over when it comes to any Raptors games, but this team will look different very soon.

Allen Iverson won’t save the Sixers.

If the Philadelphia 76ers signed Allen Iverson to sell tickets, that’s fine. But if they signed him expecting A.I. to rescue their season, then Philly really is kidding itself. The Sixers have lost eight in a row entering Friday (5-3 ATS), and they can’t much guard anyone either (defense not exactly Iverson’s strength). Philly is just 1-7 ATS at home this season.

The 76ers signed A.I., they say, because starting guard Louis Williams is out up to eight weeks with a broken jaw; the team’s GM said he never would have considered a second act for Iverson in Philly had it not been for the injury. But the fact that the Sixers rank No. 29 in attendance no doubt played a part. Remember, too, that Marresse Speights is also out several weeks. Long story short: the A.I. signing generated headlines, but it won’t make a lick of difference on the court.

The Lakers are finally whole.

Heading into Friday night’s game against Dwyane Wade and the Heat, who haven’t won in L.A. since 2004, the Lakers have won seven straight (5-2 ATS) to retake the NBA’s best record. But really you have to look at L.A.’s past six games, because six games ago is when All-Star forward Pau Gasol returned and moved Lamar Odom back to stud sixth man.

In the six wins since Gasol got back from his hamstring injury, the Lakers are winning by an average of 17.3 points. Both Gasol and center Andrew Bynum are averaging better than 17 points, 10 rebounds and 58 percent shooting. And here’s a pretty amazing stat: Overall this season, L.A. is averaging a 10.8-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The addition of Ron Artest has turned the high-scoring Lakers into one of the more effective defensive teams in the league as well. Unfortunately, oddsmakers know how good the Lakers are, as they haven’t been less than an 8.5-point favorite since mid-November. Earlier in the week, with a 20 point lead over New Orleans, the LA starters didn't play a minute of the fourth quarter allowing the Hornet to back door the Vegas closing number. The moral of this short story: moving forward -- no matter how whole the Lakers are -- chalk players are going to have to sweat the big lay on LA.

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