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Lakers head to MSG

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS (9-13) at NEW YORK KNICKS (16-5)

Sportsbook.ag Line: New York -6 & 206.5
Opening Line & Total: Knicks -7 & 208

The Lakers are looking to end a three-game losing streak Thursday night when head coach Mike D'Antoni makes his return to New York.

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Since winning his coaching debut with Los Angeles on Nov. 20, D'Antoni's new team is a dreadful 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in the past 11 games. NBA leading scorer Kobe Bryant (29.2 PPG) has not been happy, calling out his teammates for a lack of effort for two straight games. The Knicks, on the other hand, have won seven of their past eight games, and lead the Eastern Conference in both SU wins (16-5) and ATS wins (13-8). The Knicks are playing confident basketball and should have no problem dealing with a Lakers team that has a lot of issues right now, starting with their lack of a point guard while Steve Nash recovers from a broken leg. New York is 21-10 ATS as a home favorite the past two seasons. More specifically, the Knicks are 14-1 ATS as a home favorite under head coach Mike Woodson, who replaced the Lakers' Mike D'Antoni a year ago.

The Lakers have gone through what SG Kobe Bryant referred to as the most baffling stretch of his career. Without PG Steve Nash, this team is completely lost on both sides of the basketball. Bryant has been playing some of the best basketball of his career recently though, averaging 35.5 PPG on 48% shooting in the past six games, scoring at least 29 points in all of them. He has done his best to play the role of the facilitator as well, averaging 4.8 APG on the season. Unfortunately, there is no replacing Nash as a passer and the Lakers are really missing out on a player who has performed at his absolute best under D'Antoni. C Dwight Howard's 48.8% free throw shooting has really held this team back as Howard missed nine free throws in Tuesday's six-point loss to the Cavaliers. The team is also hurting without PF Pau Gasol (12.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG), who has missed the entire month of December with a knee injury. SF Metta World Peace had one of his better games of the season on Tuesday, scoring 13 points and pulling down nine rebounds.

The Knicks are coming off an emotional 100-97 victory over the Nets on Tuesday in Brooklyn. Since losing to the Bulls Saturday in Chicago without star SF Carmelo Anthony, New York has won back-to-back games, thanks to Anthony averaging a robust 39.5 PPG on 52% FG and 8-of-15 threes. PG Jason Kidd is also playing at a very high level, as he has poured in 17.5 PPG with 9-of-12 threes in the past two victories, including the game-winning three-ball with 24 seconds left to break the tie in Brooklyn. The Knicks attempt the most three-pointers in the NBA (29.3 attempts per game), which makes sense considering their 41.0% 3-pt FG ranks third in the league right now. New York is a perfect 8-0 SU (7-1 ATS) at Madison Square Garden this season, outscoring these visitors by an average of 14.2 PPG (105 to 91 average score).

  
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