|NBA: LA Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves Preview, Picks, Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Tuesday, 04 December 2007 07:00|
The Lakers (9-8) will try to avoid a third straight defeat Tuesday when they hit the road to face the 2-13 Timberwolves, losers of three in a row.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Los Angeles –7.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 203 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles –7.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
It's already been a season of streaks for the Lakers, who won a season-best four in a row in mid-November, only to drop their next three. They then won two straight before their current two-game skid.
Los Angeles has won seven games by 10 or more points but have lost four by at least 13.
"You're not a good team until you can play the same way all the time," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "Even when you're not scoring the ball, you still have to play defense ... we've yet to have that throughout the whole game."
The Lakers followed up a 120-96 loss at Utah on Friday, when they committed 22 turnovers, with a 104-97 home defeat to Orlando on Sunday.
Prior to those two losses, Los Angeles blew out Denver 127-99 on Nov. 29 in a game in which seven Lakers scored in double figures.
"That's what's so frustrating," Lakers forward Luke Walton said. "I wish it was something we could just go to practice and fix, but I can't put my finger on it. We're showing that we can play; it's just that we're not doing it all the time. If we want to be a good team, we have to do that."
Sunday was not the first time Los Angeles has been plagued by turnovers, as its 16.3 average is among the highest in the league.
Minnesota and Los Angeles have met once this season, a 107-93 Lakers win Nov. 9. Los Angeles had six players score in double figures and was paced by Kobe Bryant's 30-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist performance.
Bryant has averaged 23.0 points against the Timberwolves in his career, and he's been particularly good against them in his last four games. In that span, he's averaged 36.0 points, including a 50-point effort March 18 in a 109-102 Lakers victory.
Minnesota knew it would be in for a season of transition with star Kevin Garnett having been dealt to Boston over the summer. The Timberwolves, though, probably didn't expect things to be this bleak.
Minnesota has the lowest winning percentage in the NBA (.133) and is losing by an average of 9.0 points, worst in the Western Conference.
The upcoming schedule doesn't bode well for a turnaround. Minnesota plays 11 of its 16 games this month on the road, and started December with a 109-80 loss at Memphis on Saturday - its worst defeat of the season.
"It's one of those games you want to forget about. Not even talk about,'' said Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson, who was held to a season-low nine points.
Despite a poor performance against the Grizzlies, Jefferson has shown promise in his first season with Minnesota after being the centerpiece of the Garnett trade. He's averaging 20.1 points and 10.9 rebounds and has 11 double-doubles.
The Timberwolves are one of the league's younger teams with an average age of 26, but inexperience isn't the only thing holding them back. Promising guard Randy Foye hasn't played this season due to a stress reaction in his left kneecap, veteran center Theo Ratliff has missed the past eight games with knee problems and swingman Marko Jaric may be out a while after injuring his foot in Friday's loss to San Antonio.
"We know how much talent we have in this locker room, and how we compete and how we play in practice,'' forward Ryan Gomes said. ``It's just not going the way we think it should be going."
The Lakers have won five of the last six meetings with the Wolves, but are 3-8 in the last 11 matchups in Minneapolis.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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