Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks (-3.5, 192.5)
The Los Angeles Clippers got Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Blake Griffin back on Friday, but it did not do much good at the Miami Heat. Those three will try to break the Clippers out of their current funk when they visit the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles has lost four of its five games this month as Paul (bruised knee cap) and Griffin (hamstring) have struggled to stay on the court.
The Knicks had to wait to get back into New York thanks to the blizzard that snowed under much of the Northeast on Friday and Saturday. But after finishing a two-game road trip with a win in Minnesota, New York managed to land safely on Saturday afternoon and should be all set to take on the stumbling Clippers. Los Angeles ran into the LeBron James freight train on Friday and not even the presence of Paul and Griffin could keep the game from turning into a rout.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (35-17, 28-24-0 ATS): Paul had missed 12 of the previous 14 games due to the injured kneecap and Billups has played in only four games this season after recovering from surgery and battling past a foot problem. Los Angeles fell into a big rut in the games Paul missed and has lost eight of its last 11 overall to fall from the top of the Western Conference into third place behind San Antonio and Oklahoma City. While scoring had been a problem with Paul on the shelf, the Clippers showed the various defensive holes that have developed in the 111-89 setback at Miami on Friday. The Knicks don’t have anyone like James on the roster, but Carmelo Anthony is certainly capable of taking advantage of Los Angeles on the wings and in the post like James did on Friday. The Clippers are down to the last two stops on the Grammy-demanded eight-game road trip before a stretch of five straight at Staples Center.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (32-16, 25-21-2 ATS): Only the brilliance of James has kept New York out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and Anthony is not all that far behind in terms of MVP-type impact. The All-Star forward went for 36 points and nine rebounds in the 100-94 win over Minnesota on Friday and has put up 31.3 points in the last three contests. The Knicks have won six of their last seven games overall and have held opponents under the century mark in each of the victories. New York relies plenty on the 3-pointer for offense and is shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc over the last seven games, despite a slight dip (8-for-26) against the Timberwolves on Friday.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings in New York.
* Road team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings.
* Clippers are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Underdog is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
1. The Knicks have won five straight at home and are 19-6 at Madison Square Garden.
2. Paul has averaged 21.3 points and 10.3 assists in 11 career games against New York.
3. Los Angeles F Matt Barnes suffered a finger injury on Friday but is expected to play Sunday.
Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat (-7, 202)
LeBron James even has his teammates thinking he’s from another planet with how strong his game has been of late. The Los Angeles Lakers, who visit James and the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, are hoping for a rare off day from the superstar forward. James needed only 11 field goal attempts to reach 30 points in a rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and is shooting 76.7 percent over the last three games. The Lakers are coming off a victory.
Los Angeles got Dwight Howard (shoulder) back on Thursday but it did not do much good in a rout at Boston. But the All-Star center settled in a little better in Friday’s win at Charlotte and pulled down 11 rebounds in 38 minutes. The Heat don’t have anyone to match up against a healthy Howard, but they do have James. The Lakers will likely run some combination of Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison at James on Sunday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE LAKERS (24-27, 21-29-1 ATS): Los Angeles has won four of its last five games but has only faced one playoff-caliber team in that stretch and failed miserably in a 116-95 loss at the Celtics. With Pau Gasol out at least a month after suffering a foot injury earlier in the road trip, Howard’s return from a torn labrum has become a topic of much debate surrounding the team. Howard will require surgery at some point and is playing through pain while the team is shorthanded. Bryant went scoreless in the first half at Charlotte on Friday before finishing with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the 100-93 triumph. Bryant, who has become more of a distributor as the Lakers have started to improve, did not record an assist in the loss at Boston.
ABOUT THE HEAT (33-14, 23-24-0 ATS): James has improved his game so much that even fellow All-Stars are amazed. “He’s off the planet right now,” Dwyane Wade told reporters of James. “He’s not even the best basketball player on the planet, he’s surpassed the planet.” James went 9-for-11 in the 111-89 win over the Clippers, helping his team to a convincing win despite Chris Bosh and Ray Allen sitting out due to illness. James put on a similar shooting display at the Lakers on Jan. 17, going 17-for-25 from floor en route to a season-high 39 points in a 99-90 victory. Wade added 27 points in that victory and is battling his way through the illness taking over the Heat locker room. Wade has put up at least 20 points in each of the last four games.
* Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings in Miami.
* Lakers are 1-8 ATS in the last nine meetings.
* Underdog is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings.
* Lakers are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings in Miami.
1. The Heat have taken five of the last six meetings.
2. Howard, who spent the previous eight seasons with the Orlando Magic in the Southeast Division, has averaged 17 points and 13.4 rebounds in his career against Miami.
3. Sunday marks the last stop on Los Angeles’ seven-game Grammy-inspired road trip.