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Lessons Learned in the NBA

Editor's Note: Lawrence Prezman has connected on two of his last three plays on the hardwood. Don't miss out on his latest expert selections. Click to win!

Kobe’s finger is obviously an issue.

The Los Angeles Lakers looked extremely mortal last week, going 2-2 SU and ATS with losses at the Clippers (can’t blame travel for that one) and in Portland. In fact, one of the best bets you can make (if Portland is healthy) is to take the Blazers against the Lakers at the Rose Garden. The Lakers have now lost nine games in a row there – yet they went in as four-point favorites. Make note of this bias the next time L.A. visits the Pacific Northwest. The Lakers are 99-70 (.586) on the road against all other NBA teams since their losing streak in Portland began on April 20, 2005.

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L.A. is pretty banged up right now, and Kobe Bryant is clearly struggling with the index finger injury on his shooting hand, which has worsened. Bryant had just 12 points in a blowout of the Bucks on Sunday and is just 37-of-111 (33.3 percent) in his past four games. It might be time for investors to avoid, or fade, the Lakers, who still don’t have Pau Gasol back. L.A. plays 10 of its next 12 games on the road, starting with a Texas two-step Tuesday in San Antonio and then Wednesday in Dallas. Los Angeles is just 4-9 ATS on the road this season.

The Wizards might be better without Arenas.

There is almost no way that Gilbert Arenas plays again this season (or likely ever again in Washington) in the wake of his suspension for his role in that whole gunplay thing with teammate Javaris Crittenton. Arenas played last Tuesday as Washington beat Philadelphia, but then Commissioner David Stern suspended him indefinitely on Wednesday afternoon. By the way, the banner outside the Verizon Center was removed, his jerseys were taken off shelves of souvenir stands, and his image scrubbed from promotional videos and the Wizards’ website. So the Wiz aren’t playing around. Anyways, not surprisingly the Wizards went out and laid an egg that first night without Arenas, getting pounded at Cleveland. But then they turned around and upset the Magic on Friday and nearly beat a hot Hornets team on Sunday.

Without the ball hogging Arenas in the lineup, Randy Foye has been starting and has played well, totaling 43 points and, more importantly, 14 assists against the Magic and Hornets. Antawn Jamison has been a beast with Arenas out as well, shooting better than 50 percent from the field, pulling down 19 rebounds and averaging 30 PPG. Even Brendan Haywood has gotten into the act with back-to-back double-digit point games. Oddsmakers don’t offer much respect the Wizards much (they are just 12-21-2 ATS this season), so sport traders will be able to get some value on the Wiz this week with winnable games against Detroit (Tuesday), at Chicago (Friday) and home to Sacramento (Saturday) – don’t even rule out a possible upset in Atlanta on Wednesday.

Sometimes addition by subtraction really does work, and this looks so far like it could be one of those instances.

  
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Lakers' Russell strains calf, MRI scheduled
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