Lakers Head to Bean Town

Offseason reports that the Los Angeles Lakers had entered the sweepstakes to acquire Kevin Garnett must have thrilled disgruntled Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Those rumors fizzled, however, and Garnett landed with the Boston Celtics, sparking a basketball renaissance in Boston and failing to quiet the chaos in Los Angeles.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Boston -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 202 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Things have calmed down with Bryant and the Lakers off to a surprisingly good start, and on Friday they will visit Garnett and the Celtics in a matchup between teams that have fared well despite dramatically different offseasons.

The Lakers' summer was dominated by discussion of a possible trade of Bryant, who said he wanted out of Los Angeles in late May because he felt the Lakers hadn't committed to building a championship team around him.

Acquiring Garnett certainly would've appeased the league's two-time defending scoring champion, but Garnett instead went to the Celtics, who also brought in sharpshooter Ray Allen from Seattle. Garnett and Allen have joined Paul Pierce to make Boston the only team in the NBA with three players averaging at least 20.0 points.

After finishing last in the Eastern Conference at 24-58 in 2006-07, the new-look Celtics (9-1) have the best record in the NBA.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have essentially the same roster from last season, when they faded in the second half and went quietly in the first round of the playoffs against Phoenix.

Los Angeles (7-4), though, has started strong, ranking fourth in the league with 106.6 points per game while Bryant averages 26.9 - his lowest since 2003-04, when he shared the spotlight with Shaquille O'Neal.

Bryant and the Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday at Milwaukee. They took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter but were outscored 35-23 in the last 12 minutes to fall 110-103.

Bryant had 27 points, but was 2-of-8 from 3-point range and 7-for-18 from the field as Los Angeles hit 43.1 percent - its worst shooting performance in five road games this season.

"Sometimes you just miss them," Bryant said. "You stay with it, you stay aggressive. We all pretty much shot the ball like (garbage). We had control of the game throughout except the fourth quarter, and it was an uphill battle from that point."

Boston, meanwhile, bounced back from its first defeat of the season - a two-point road loss against 10-3 Orlando - with another dominant home effort Wednesday against Golden State. Pierce and Garnett each went 8-for-14 from the field while combining for 39 points and 20 rebounds in the 105-82 victory.

"The good teams in this league never lose two in a row," said Allen, who led the Celtics with 21 points. "When you lose a game, you need to know how to respond."

Garnett is shooting 63.3 percent from the field at home, where Boston has won its first six games by an average of 19.2 points.

The Celtics, though, are expecting a challenge when the Lakers come to town. Boston's last four home victories have come against teams that currently have losing records, and three of those wins were over teams from the East, which despite the Celtics' revival, still has a reputation as the inferior conference.

"There are a lot of people talking about how the Western Conference is head over heels above the East," Pierce said. "The Lakers will be a good test for us."

Los Angeles won both games against Boston last season by an average of 19.5 points. Bryant averaged 40.5 points and 8.5 assists in those games.

Allen averaged 31.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals in two games against Los Angeles last season while with Seattle.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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