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Handicapping

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers Preview and Pick

Los Angeles Lakers (28-6 SU, 14-20 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (15-18 SU, 14-19 ATS), 10:30 p.m. EST, Wednesday, January 6, 2009, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Cal. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lakers -5/Clippers +5
Over/Under: 196

The battle for Staples Center supremacy and Los Angeles bragging rights takes place Wednesday as the Lakers face the Clippers in the building that both teams share with each other.

The Lakers are the best team in the NBA with a 28-6 record. The Clippers currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division with a 15-18 record, 12.5 games back from first place and 3.5 games back from the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, as they try to just stand their ground until Blake Griffin finally gets on the court in a couple weeks.

The Lakers have won four games in a row and have done so in a variety of ways. They scored over 100 points in the first three of their last four games, including 131 in a 35-point win over the Mavericks. They won in a shootout with the Warriors, barely got by the Kings by one point, destroyed the Mavs, and then won a low-scoring defensive battle Tuesday over the Rockets, 88-79. Kobe Bryant scored 24 points in that game, Andrew Bynum had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Lamar Odom had 17 points and 19 rebounds.

The Clippers have won two games in a row, both by double digits, over the 76ers and the Trail Blazers. In a 105-95 win over the Blazers on Monday, four starters scored in double figures, led by Chris Kaman's 20 points and Eric Gordon's 19. The one starter who didn't score in double figures was Marcus Camby, and he had nine points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

The Lakers lead the league in rebounds per game (45.2), are fourth in points per game (104.4), and are second in the league in both field goal percentage defense (43.3) and 3-point percentage defense (30.7). The Clippers are 25th in the league in points per game (96.1) and fourth in 3-point percentage defense (32.8).

The Lakers have covered their last two games but they failed to cover in five of the six games before that. The total has gone over in five of the Lakers' last six games. The Clippers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games, and three of those games have been against the Blazers and Celtics. They beat the Celtics (92-90) at home on December 27 before losing at Portland by four and then winning two in a row at home over the 76ers and Blazers.

The Lakers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games when playing without a day of rest. The Clippers are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games at the Staples Center, but they are 9-26 ATS in their last 35 games playing on exactly one day of rest. The over is 4-0 in the Lakers' last four games against the Pacific Division, and the over is 4-0 in the Clippers' last four games against the Western Conference. The under is 12-5-1 ATS in the Lakers' last 18 games following an ATS win, and the under is 7-2 ATS in the Clippers' last nine games following an ATS win. The total has gone under in six of the last seven meetings between the Lakers and Clippers. They played each other once already this season and the Lakers won the game on opening night, 99-92.

Ryno's Pick: Both of these teams have a lot of size in the frontcourt, so that factor will probably negate itself. The Lakers have Bynum, Odom and Pau Gasol, while the Clippers have Kaman, Camby and Al Thornton. The Clippers have the edge at point guard with Baron Davis going against Derek Fisher. While Fisher is a smart experienced point guard, Davis is stronger and faster and can score more points in a variety of ways. Kobe is going to score points. That's just a given. But the Clippers can't allow him to score too much and take over the game. Eric Gordon doesn't have the size to defend Kobe so they will have to find another way to defend him. The only thing the Clippers can hope for is that Kobe will be tired from playing his second game in two days. With the Clippers getting a day off and the Lakers playing on consecutive days, expect the Clippers to come out energized in their home arena. The Clippers have enough size and scoring options to keep this one close. Take the Clippers to cover the spread.

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