Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-9.5, 210)
The Los Angeles Lakers have finally reached the .500 mark for the first time since late December and need to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday to keep from falling right back below it. Los Angeles is back at the break-even mark for the first time since being 15-15 as it makes a run at landing a Western Conference playoff spot. Oklahoma City has won four of five and has the second-best record in the West.
The Thunder are 2-1 against the Lakers this season and forward Kevin Durant has scored at least 35 points in all three contests. Durant is averaging 37.7 points against Los Angeles this season with a high outing of 42. He has a career average of 27.4 in 20 regular-season contests against Los Angeles. The Lakers have won 13 of their last 18 games and are two games behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz in the Western Conference playoff chase. “We’re playing much, much better,” guard Kobe Bryant said after Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “It’s going to be a big test for us on Tuesday in a building where it’s going to be a playoff-like atmosphere and one of the teams we could see in the first round of the playoffs. I’m excited for that.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE LAKERS (30-30, 24-35-1 ATS): Bryant has returned to a scoring emphasis and is averaging 34.8 points over the last five games. He has scored at least 29 points in each game and had 34 in Sunday’s win over the Hawks. Bryant is averaging 28 points in the three games against Oklahoma City. He has scored 30 or more points 25 times this season. Point guard Steve Nash had 15 points and 10 assists against the Hawks for his first double-double since Feb. 3. Nash is averaging 15.3 points over the last four games.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (43-16, 35-22-2 ATS): Point guard Russell Westbrook had 29 points and 10 assists in Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers to continue his stellar play. Westbrook has scored 20 or more points in nine straight outings and 13 of the last 14. He has shot better than 50 percent from the field in 10 of the 14 games. Westbrook’s run began after enduring a 6-of-22 shooting night in a loss to the Lakers on Jan. 27. He scored just 17 points in that contest but is averaging 25.7 against Los Angeles this season. Westbrook scored 33 and 27 points in Oklahoma City’s two wins over the Lakers.
* Lakers are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games.
* Thunder are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 home games.
* Over is 5-2 in Lakers last seven overall.
* Over is 15-7 in Thunder last 22 vs. NBA Pacific.
1. Los Angeles has a 4-3 regular-season mark in Oklahoma City.
2. The Thunder are 26-4 (21-9 ATS) at home, while the Lakers are 10-19 (10-18-1 ATS) on the road.
3. Oklahoma City had 12 steals in the victory over the Clippers.