April 22nd NBA Odds: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, April 22, 2012
With just a few games left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder are still fighting for position in the West. The Thunder sit one-half game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot while the Lakers sit in third, one-half game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kobe Bryant’s return from a seven-game absence was not much help for Los Angeles on Friday in a lopsided loss to the Spurs.
Oklahoma City Thunder (46-17): Oklahoma City is a game back of San Antonio in the loss column and sits on the wrong side of the tiebreaker, so the No. 1 seed is getting closer to a long shot with three games left. Sunday marks the final road contest for the Thunder, who own the best road record in the West at 21-11. Oklahoma City has enjoyed a relatively easy slate in April, with only two of its last eight games against teams that have clinched playoff berths. Of course, the Thunder dropped both of those contests to the Clippers. They have yet to lose to the Lakers this season, taking a 100-85 decision at Staples Center on Feb. 23 and winning at home, 102-93, on March 29.
Los Angeles Lakers (40-24): Los Angeles has missed two opportunities to help out the Thunder in the last week, dropping a 112-91 decision at home to San Antonio on Tuesday and falling at the Spurs, 121-97, on Friday. Bryant, who had sat out due to a left shin bruise, went 7 for 12 from the floor for 18 points in 29 minutes. “I’m back now,” Bryant told reporters after the game. “It took me a half. The second half it felt like I was back in a good rhythm.” In Bryant’s absence, Los Angeles had gotten strong play from Metta World Peace in addition to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. World Peace is averaging 16.3 points over the last nine games, up from his season average of 7.6.
The Thunder have won in each of their last two trips to Staples
2. Bryant has averaged 24.9 points in 55 career games against the Oklahoma City franchise.
3. Kevin Durant is at the same 24.9 points in 16 career games against the Lakers.
NBA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Thunder 106, Lakers 97
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