Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-7.5, 211)
Oklahoma City doesn’t have the NBA’s best record but the Thunder are certainly the hottest team in the league entering Friday’s home contest against the up-and-down Los Angeles Lakers. Oklahoma City is looking for its seventh consecutive victory and its record is tied for second-best in the league behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Los Angeles hasn’t discovered its groove under recently hired coach Mike D'Antoni and is just 2-5 on the road.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant became the fifth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points when he scored 29 points in Wednesday’s victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Los Angeles was expected to flourish with center Dwight Howard joining Bryant but has just one three-game winning streak all season. Oklahoma City notched a 117-111 road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, shooting a season-high 60.6 percent while scoring 100 or more points for the 10th straight game. The Thunder are 9-2 at home entering the contest against the team they defeated in the second round of the playoffs last season.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles), Fox Sports Oklahoma
ABOUT THE LAKERS (9-10, 8-11 ATS): Bryant is averaging 34 points over the last three games and is carrying the offense. Interestingly, he is averaging just 20.2 points in Los Angeles’ nine victories while averaging 33 points in 10 defeats. His 28.0 overall average is tops in the NBA and his career point total stands at 30,016, trailing Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time list. “Whenever you hear those kinds of names, you think about the amount of players that have played this game,” said Bryant, “and then to be in that kind of company, it’s always extremely, extremely special.”
ABOUT THE THUNDER (15-4, 13-5-1 ATS): The top offensive team in the league really was on a roll by going 21-of-30 from the field to start the game against the Nets. Oklahoma City averages a league-best 105.7 points and its 49.2 percent field-goal accuracy rate is second behind the Miami Heat. Kevin Durant had 32 points against the Nets and Russell Westbrook added 25. Durant has been engaging his teammates early in the games but still is the top gun in the final quarter. “I always want to be a go-to guy in the fourth,” said Durant, averaging 26.5 points. “That’s what I live for.”
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Favorite is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Lakers are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Oklahoma City.
* Lakers are 2-6-1 ATS in the last nine meetings.
1. The Lakers are 9-4 against the Thunder in regular-season games since the former Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City.
2. The Thunder are averaging 112.2 points per game during their six-game winning streak.
3. Lakers F Pau Gasol is expected to miss third straight contest due to tendinitis in both knees.