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NBA Early-Week Live Betting Preview at Bovada

Have the Los Angeles Lakers finally turned the corner? They still aren't in the class of their Staples Center co-tenants, the red-hot L.A. Clippers, but the Lakers have won back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month heading into Tuesday's matchup with visiting Charlotte. The book will have Live Betting on the game.

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It's unlikely to happen on Tuesday but the Lakers also might be whole for the first time since the start of the season this week. Both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash returned to practice on Monday. Gasol hopes to play Tuesday against the struggling Bobcats, while Nash, who has been out much longer (since October 31), wants to play by Christmas and perhaps by Saturday against Golden State. Once the Lakers get that duo back they can really determine what they are as a team under coach Mike D'Antoni and also determine how Gasol is best a fit with the team. Kobe Bryant has said Gasol needs to be used out of the post more, and what Kobe says still goes on that team so look for that to happen. L.A. is 2-5 without Gasol.

As ESPN.com pointed out, the No. 8 seed in the deep Western Conference has averaged 48 wins the past three seasons. That means the Lakers would have to finish the year 37-20. One thing boding well is that the Lakers still do have a point differential of plus-2.8 and a positive differential is usually the sign of a playoff team. In fact, that number ranks No. 5 in the West and would tie for third in the East.

The Miami Heat remain the 19/10 title favorites at the book despite a few uneven performances of their own lately. They host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night and there will also be Live Betting on that one. The Timberwolves got Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio back on Saturday as predicted in this space last week. They beat Dallas and put up 114 points in Rubio's return that night but then fell into a typical trap game Monday in Orlando and lost 102-93.

Because the Timberwolves wants to bring Rubio along slowly from his knee injury, he will not play against the Heat. Rubio is on a limit of about 18 minutes per game for now and won't play the second of back-to-backs. Don't be surprised if the Chicago Bulls handle their star point guard Derrick Rose much the same whenever he returns later this season.

On Wednesday, the Live Betting options are the third "Borough Battle" of the season between the Nets and Knicks as well as Bucks at Grizzlies. Brooklyn and New York have split two very entertaining games so far this season. It's not yet clear if the Knicks will have Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday as he sat out Monday's loss to Jeremy Lin and the Rockets because of pain in his ankle. The defeat dropped New York to 2-2 without Anthony so far this season.

On the bright side for the Knicks, Amar'e Stoudemire has been cleared to practice. He has yet to play this season after knee surgery but could perhaps debut Friday at home versus Chicago or Sunday against the Timberwolves.

Also Wednesday night the Clippers (18-6, 15-9 ATS) go for their 11th win in a row as they host New Orleans (no Live Betting). The franchise hasn't won 11 straight since it was in Buffalo 38 years ago. The Clips just swept a four-game road trip for the first time ever. Blake Griffin is playing terrific and L.A. also leads the league in steals, thanks largely to Chris Paul and his NBA-best 2.6 per game. The Clippers have skyrocketed to the fourth-favorite to win the West at 9/2 and could overtake No. 2 and No. 3 San Antonio and the Lakers by the end of this week as they will be solid favorites in all three games on the schedule.

Check back Thursday for a weekend Live Betting preview at the book.

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