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CHICAGO BULLS (19-14) at NEW YORK KNICKS (23-12)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Knicks -4 & 191

Both the Bulls and the Knicks are trying to get on track with a win at Madison Square Garden Friday night.

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Both teams are coming off losses, as Chicago fell 104-96 at home to the Bucks on Wednesday, while New York scored just 76 points in a five-point loss at Indiana on Thursday night. The Bulls could be without PG Kirk Hinrich (elbow) in this one, and the Knicks are likely to be without C Marcus Camby, who re-injured his foot in the loss to Indiana. Although Chicago has won both matchups between these two teams this season, the Knicks will come out firing when they get their leader, SF Carmelo Anthony, back from his one-game suspension. The last time Carmelo Anthony missed a game, he came back and scored 45 points against the Blazers. Despite being 0-2 ATS this season against Chicago, New York is 5-3 ATS over the past eight games played at Madison Square Garden in this series. The Knicks are also 11-2 ATS in home games after playing as a road underdog the past two seasons.

In their last game on Wednesday, the Bulls slipped up and had a bad defensive performance, letting up 104 points to the Bucks. PF Carlos Boozer continued to play well for Chicago, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while shooting 8-of-15 from the floor. In Kirk Hinrich's absence, Nate Robinson had a monster game. He pitched in 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting, while also adding six assists, five steals and five rebounds. He'll need to play well again if Kirk Hinrich has to miss the game again with his injured elbow.

The Knicks are coming off two bad losses to both Boston (a 7.5-point underdog) and the Pacers. They have been struggling since the insertion of PF Amar'e Stoudemire (9.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG in 20.8 MPG) in the lineup, but they will be getting SF Carmelo Anthony (29.0 PPG, 2nd in NBA) back from a one-game suspension. In the four games before the suspension, Anthony was averaging 32.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 4.5 APG on 43% FG and 41% threes. SG J.R. Smith did his best to keep the Knicks in the game against the Pacers in Anthony's absence, scoring 25 points and dishing out six assists. C Tyson Chandler has been playing well lately, especially against Indiana, when he scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while also blocking three shots. This is a big game for New York and it will certainly need the bench players to step up.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (27-8) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (15-20)

Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Thunder -6 & 217

The Lakers are still in search for their first win of 2013 when they host the Thunder on Friday night.

Oklahoma City has won six of its past eight games, but lost its last road game, 101-99, to lowly Washington on Monday night. The Thunder bounced back from that defeat with a 106-84 pounding of Minnesota. Los Angeles is 0-5 (SU and ATS) so far in January, and it will likely be missing three frontcourt players for this game -- C Dwight Howard (shoulder) and C Jordan Hill (hip) are out, and PF Pau Gasol (concussion) is questionable. Without this trio for the past two contests, the Lakers allowed 116.5 PPG on 52.0% FG in a 13-point loss to Houston and a respectable 3-point road loss in San Antonio. The Thunder have won eight of the past 10 meetings SU (6-3-1 ATS) between these clubs, prevailing 114-108 on Dec. 7 in their lone matchup this season.

Oklahoma City is also 3-1-1 ATS (3-2 SU) in its past five trips to Staples Center, averaging 105.4 PPG during this stretch. The Thunder should have no trouble putting up big points again, as the Lakers have surrendered 111.0 PPG on 49% FG during their five-game skid. And when Oklahoma City posts at least 105 points this season, it is 16-4 ATS (80%), winning these games by an average score of 112.1 to 96.5. Without its big men to score in the paint, L.A. will rely on outside shooting, but that plays right into the Thunder's strength, as they are 18-8 ATS (69%) this season versus teams averaging at least 18 three-point attempts per game.

Oklahoma City is 21-13-1 ATS (62%) this season, which is the 2nd-best ATS mark in the NBA behind only Memphis (65% ATS). The Thunder's offense is among the best in the league with 105.4 PPG (2nd in NBA), 47.8% FG (3rd in NBA) and a league-high 40.0% on threes. SF Kevin Durant's 28.1 PPG places him third in the league, as he has scored at least 22 points in 11 straight games, averaging 30.3 PPG on 53% FG and 40% threes over this stretch. Durant also destroyed the Lakers during OKC's 5-game series win over them in last year's playoffs, averaging 26.8 PPG (52% FG, 39% threes) and 8.6 RPG. PG Russell Westbrook had a huge series against L.A. (25.6 PPG on 49% FG), and he's posted 21.8 PPG and 8.2 APG in his past six meetings against Steve Nash. When the Thunder held off the Lakers on Dec. 7, Durant had 36 points (10-of-19 FG, 14-of-16 FT) and nine boards, while Westbrook added 33 points (12-of-26 FG, 5-of-8 threes) and eight assists. OKC also has two other double-digit scorers in sharp-shooter SG Kevin Martin (15.3 PPG, 44% threes) and PF Serge Ibaka (15.3 PPG on 57% FG), who dominates down low with 8.4 RPG and an impressive 2.9 BPG (2nd in NBA). PF Nick Collison also played huge against the Lakers despite the presence of Dwight Howard last game, scoring 13 points and seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. With Howard in street clothes on Friday, Ibaka and Collison should be able to produce more big numbers in the paint.

The Lakers offense has been very efficient during their losing skid, tallying 104.6 PPG on 45% FG in the five defeats. But the defense continues to get shredded, surrendering 111.0 PPG on 49% shooting during the slide. SG Kobe Bryant (NBA-high 30.1 PPG) is shooting a career-best 47.5% FG this season and is coming off a 27-point game in the loss to the Spurs on Wednesday. Bryant nearly brought his team back from a 19-point deficit in the Dec. 7 trip to Oklahoma City, finishing with 35 points on 11-of-24 FG and 4-of-5 threes. Bryant also averaged 31.2 PPG in the playoff series loss to the Thunder last year, but he shot just 42.6% FG and made only 2-of-18 threes in those five games. Bryant did have plenty of help in Wednesday's loss to the Spurs, as SF Metta World Peace notched 23 points, eight rebounds and a whopping seven steals, while SF Earl Clark shined off the bench with 22 points (9-of-12 FG) and 13 rebounds. PG Steve Nash also kept his team close Wednesday with 14 points and nine assists. Although this will be his first meeting with the Thunder in a Lakers uniform, Nash has 13.6 PPG (54% FG) and 9.7 APG in his past 10 meetings with Oklahoma City. SG Jodie Meeks has enjoyed playing at Staples Center recently, averaging 10.5 PPG in just 21.4 MPG in his past eight home games. He also scored 17 points with a team-best +11 rating in just 20 minutes of action in that Dec. 7 loss to the Thunder.

  
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