Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks (-7, 208.5)
Watching a team struggle badly under coach Mike D'Antoni is not an unfamiliar site for New York fans. When the Los Angeles Lakers stumble into Madison Square Garden on Thursday to face the Knicks, it will be exactly nine months since D'Antoni was fired by New York. The Lakers and D'Antoni are riding a three-game losing streak as they prepare for the matchup against the league's only unbeaten team at home. Los Angeles has lost eight of its last 11. ''It doesn't make any sense," Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant said. "We're still finding ways to lose games.''
The Knicks, on the other hand, keep finding ways to win games. New York erased an early 17-point deficit to eke out a 100-97 win at Brooklyn on Tuesday night in a budding rivalry becoming known as the Battle of the Boroughs. Carmelo Anthony erupted for a season-high 45 points to carry the Knicks to their seventh win in eight games. New York has registered 11 of its 16 wins by double digits, including a pair of 20-point demolitions of the defending world champion Miami Heat.TV:
8 p.m. ET, TNTABOUT THE LAKERS (9-13, 9-13 ATS):
Los Angeles is searching for answers after tumbling to 4-8 since D'Antoni took the coaching reins. Bryant termed the recent struggles as the most "challenging" and "baffling" stretch of his storied career. With forward Pau Gasol missing his fifth straight game, the Lakers fell behind by 15 points at halftime against a Cleveland squad that entered the game with four wins. Bryant scored a season-high 42 points against the Cavaliers and has averaged 35.5 points in his last six games - a stretch in which the Lakers have gone 1-5.ABOUT THE KNICKS (16-5, 13-8 ATS):
Anthony is having an MVP campaign, pouring in 79 points in his last two games after sitting out the previous two due to a cut on his finger. Yet New York is also getting timely production from veteran guard Jason Kidd since he returned from a four-game injury absence. Kidd buried the winning 3-point shot against the Nets and finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 from behind the arc. That followed a 17-point performance against Denver in which Kidd connected on 3 of 4 from long range to go along with seven assists.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Lakers are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.BUZZER BEATERS:
1. Anthony sat out last February's 92-85 win over the Lakers that snapped a string of nine straight losses in the series.
2. Los Angeles is 1-10 when Bryant scores at least 30 points.
3. D'Antoni compiled a 121-167 record in three-plus seasons with the Knicks.
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers (+5.5, 201)
The San Antonio Spurs will look to rebound from a rare loss when they wrap up a four-game road trip Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Spurs had their five-game winning streak snapped in Utah on Wednesday on a 3-point buzzer beater by Mo Williams. It was an uncharacteristic defeat for San Antonio, which blew an eight-point lead in the final four minutes to drop one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the league's best record. The Spurs still own the league's best mark away from home at 11-3.
While San Antonio will be playing for the fifth time in seven nights, the Trail Blazers have had a couple of much-needed days off since walloping the Toronto Raptors on Monday. Nicolas Batum, who has been battling a back injury that caused him to miss Monday's game, said his condition has improved and he is hopeful of facing the Spurs. Wesley Matthews also sat out Monday's game with a left hip flexor strain, ending a streak of 250 consecutive games played.TV:
10:30 p.m. ET, TNTABOUT THE SPURS (18-5, 15-7-1 ATS):
Veteran Tim Duncan had his worst shooting performance of the season in Monday's shootout victory at Houston, connecting on only 1 of 9 shots, but he still managed to pull down 13 rebounds and block three shots. Duncan bounced back from that game with a vengeance, scoring 22 points and hauling down a season-high 21 rebounds against the Jazz. It was the 21st 20-20 game of the future Hall of Famer's career. The perennial All-Star also blocked six shots - another season high.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (9-12, 8-12-1 ATS):
The return of Batum and/or Matthews would go a long way to preventing a repeat from Monday's dreadful shooting display that set an NBA record for futility. Portland misfired on all 20 3-point attempts, breaking the record set by the New York Knicks (0 for 18) in 2010. Batum has made a team-high 49 3-pointers and has connected on at least one in all but one game. Seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic did a solid job as an emergency starter against Toronto with 10 points, seven boards and five assists in 42 minutes.
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Home team is 15-6 ATS in the last 21 meetings.
* Spurs are 2-8 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Portland.BUZZER BEATERS:
1. The Spurs withstood 35 points from Batum to win at Portland 112-109 on Nov. 12.
2. Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge has four straight double-doubles and is averaging 22.5 points and 11.3 rebounds in that span.
3. San Antonio leads the league in assists per game (25.9). Portland ranks 29th (19.1).