Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers (-7.5, 196.5)
The Los Angeles Lakers play their first game since the death of longtime owner Jerry Buss on Wednesday when they host the Boston Celtics, who lost 97-90 in Denver on Tuesday. The Lakers are hoping for a fresh start after the All-Star break, but they’re still 3 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’ll need to go 16-12 over their final 28 games just to reach .500.
Boston, which is 8-2 since losing point guard Rajon Rondo with a season-ending knee injury, played well in the first three quarters against Denver before fading in the final minutes. Leading scorer Paul Pierce was held to 10 points on 2-of-14 shooting, but he had 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Celtics’ convincing 116-95 win over the Lakers at TD Garden on Feb. 7. Boston has struggled on the road with an 8-16 record.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, , ESPN, Comcast SportsNet New England (Boston), Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (28-25, 22-28-3 ATS): Boston began its five-game road trip with too many mistakes down the stretch against the Nuggets, but there were a number of bright spots. Forward Jeff Green scored a season-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while guard Avery Bradley chipped in 17 points. Pierce and Kevin Garnett continue to be mentioned in talks with Thursday’s trade deadline fast approaching, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has said it’s unlikely the Celtics will move either player. Garnett, averaging 15.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, has indicated that he would not waive his no-trade clause.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (25-29, 21-32-1 ATS): If Los Angeles is going to make a playoff push, it needs to start against the Celtics. Coach Mike D’Antoni said the team spent the recent break thinking of ways to better utilize point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard. The latter has posted solid numbers while failing to click with 14-time All-Star Kobe Bryant. Howard leads the league in rebounding with 11.8 per game, but he’s scored more than 25 points only five times. Bryant, who scored a game-high 27 points against Boston earlier this month, has made one of his last 30 3-point attempts over his last 14 games.
* Celtics are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Los Angeles.
* Over is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings.
* Celtics are 16-7-1 ATS in the last 24 meetings.
* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
1. Bryant is averaging 25.6 points in 27 career regular-season games against Boston.
2. The Celtics are 5-20 when trailing after three quarters.
3. The Lakers are 2-3 since F Pau Gasol suffered a torn plantar fascia injury to his right foot on Feb. 5.