Game: Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Odds: Suns +8.5, Lakers -8.5
LeBron James isn’t worried about how things turn out, even though the Los Angeles Lakers would prefer to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament. With two games left, Los Angeles is tied for the seventh-best record in the West and cannot afford another loss when it hosts the scorching Phoenix Suns tonight.
The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Lakers on Wednesday night, 125-118, despite the Lakers having won seven of their previous nine games. In the race for the final two automatic playoff berths in the West, the Lakers (41-39) and the New Orleans Pelicans (41-39) are each one game behind the Clippers (42-38) and the Golden State Warriors (42-38).
The Lakers’ painful 11th straight loss to the Clippers sets up their matchup with a Phoenix team that has won a season-high seven straight games. The Suns (45-35) could decide to rest some of their star players on Friday in the second game of a back-to-back set. Phoenix has secured the No. 4 spot in the West. Last night, Phoenix defeated the visiting Denver Nuggets 119-115.
Kevin Durant, who had 29 points last night, Chris Paul (25), and Devin Booker (15) are all possible candidates for rest. Paul hit a career-high seven 3-pointers last night. Durant connected on six of them.
Paul failed to reach 20 points in his previous 27 games before scoring 22 and 25 points in his most recent two games.
The Suns are 8-0 with Durant in the lineup. Paul will become more of a factor as teams place their best defenders on Durant and Booker. That will open up things for the perennial All-Star point guard. Interestingly, Paul only had two assists against Denver, and his first one didn’t come until the final eight minutes of play.
James has averaged 35 points per game in the last two games, but his status for Friday is listed as questionable due to right foot pain. In the second half of the Clippers’ loss, James scored 30 of his 33 points. D’Angelo Russell (left foot) will likely play tonight against the Suns and Anthony Davis (right foot) is also questionable. After sitting out Tuesday’s 135-133 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Russell had 15 points and seven assists in 40 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Phoenix has a 2-1 record against the Lakers this season. On March 22, Los Angeles defeated the Suns at home 122-111 to snap a six-game losing streak. The Suns have won seven straight games and they are 9-1 SU in the last ten against the Lakers. Phoenix is 8-2 ATS in those ten games and they are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall.
The Lakers are 4-1 SU in their last five games. The Over has cashed in the Lakers’ last six straight games. The Under is 10-3 in the Lakers’ last 13 home games.
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