NBA odds: Kobe Bryant out for Lakers on Friday but may play Sunday
When the Los Angeles Lakers visit Sacramento on Friday night, Kobe Bryant will not make his season debut for L.A., but there is a realistic chance he could play when the team returns home Sunday against Toronto.
Bryant has been practicing in full this week and hasn’t had any setbacks. One concern still is that Bryant practiced two days in a row in mid-November but then stopped after feeling general soreness in his left foot, the same one with the Achilles’ injury.
“He absolutely won’t play Friday,” team spokesman John Black said Wednesday. “He won’t be going with the team and will instead stay in L.A. for an individual workout.”
There have been no setbacks this time, Black said. The risk of injury is just as great to other parts of his body trying to compensate for the injury as it is for a recurrence of problems in the ankle.
Bryant has spent the last eight months rehabilitating a torn left Achilles tendon suffered in April. He has been medically cleared for all basketball activities. Without Bryant, the Lakers have started the season 9-9 while losing point guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar to injuries. Nash won’t play Friday and there’s a slim chance he does Sunday. Farmar was diagnosed with a left hamstring tear Monday that is expected to keep him out of the lineup for four weeks,
The Lakers haven’t played since losing 114-108 on Sunday to Portland. Xavier Henry scored a career-high 27 points and Jodie Meeks added 20 for Los Angeles, which had won five of six to climb above .500 despite injury woes. The Lakers were left with only nine or 10 healthy players — and one point guard — when Farmar limped to the locker room in the first quarter.
The Kings (4-12) as usual are one of the NBA’s worst teams and have lost five straight. They were beaten 97-95 at home against Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Thunder built a 17-point lead early in the fourth but had to hold off the Kings and Isaiah Thomas, who scored 21 of his 24 points in the final period and missed a jumper with 1 second left that would have sent the game to overtime.
The Kings played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins. He sprained his right ankle against Golden State on Sunday and watched Tuesday’s game in street clothes. Cousins, the Kings’ leading scorer (21.7 points per game) and rebounder (10.1 per game), is day to day.
The Lakers beat Sacramento 100-86 in L.A. on Nov. 24. Henry scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Blake finished with 12 assists, nine points and five rebounds. Greivis Vasquez led Sacramento with 20 points and Cousins added 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
WagerWeb Lakers-Kings trends: Favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. Lakers are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings. Over is 14-4 in the last 18 meetings in Sacramento. Lakers are 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings in Sacramento. Over is 35-16-1 in the last 52 meetings.
Kobe Bryant could make season debut Friday against Warriors
There’s no set timetable for Kobe Bryant’s season-debut off a serious Achilles’ injury suffered at the end of last regular season. However, Bryant has been practicing in full this week with the Lakers and Kobe loves drama. Friday night’s Lakers home game against Golden State happens to be on national television so don’t rule out Bryant playing. Bet on the game at WagerWeb.
Kobe is entering the final stages of his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and was visibly buoyed by his first full practice of the season Tuesday. “Felt like it was ’97 again,” he said. The immediate test is whether he’ll wait until he’s completely ready to come back, or will he be overwhelmed by eagerness to return to the game. Kobe practiced again Wednesday and will check the progress as the Lakers get in work prior to their game against the Warriors, a game in which Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he does not expect Bryant to participate, but in the end it’s Bryant’s call.
The 35-year-old Bryant, who tore his Achilles on April 12, is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from the injury, which normally carries a recovery timetable of nine to 12 months. Bryant had surgery less than 24 hours after he injured his Achilles, which allowed him to start the recovery process well before most people with the injury do.
D’Antoni revealed a somewhat subdued progress report after seeing Bryant practice Wednesday in what marked his second consecutive day playing in full-court, five-on-five drills.
“Kobe looks good. He hasn’t played since April. He looks rusty,” D’Antoni said. “I thought the first day he looked better than the second day. But that’s normal to have a little dip. But he’s not too sore and he’s playing.”
The Lakers, who remain without an injured Steve Nash (also pondering retirement), are home again Saturday against Sacramento and then not back at Staples Center until Dec. 1. Kobe has said he expects to return this month and you know he wants to do it in front of the home fans so Friday would make the most sense with the national TV cameras rolling.
The Lakers haven’t been terrible without him at 5-7, although they have lost four of six. L.A. beat Detroit 114-99 in its last game Sunday. The Warriors lost 88-81 in overtime to Memphis on Wednesday without star Stephen Curry. He was held out after sustaining a mild concussion from hitting his head on the floor diving for a loose ball during Golden State’s win at Utah on Monday. Curry should be back Friday.
Golden State routed the Lakers 125-94 in the lone meeting so far back on Oct. 30 in the Warriors’ season opener. Klay Thompson scored a career-high 38 points, finishing 15-of-19 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. It was tied for the fourth-largest margin of victory for Golden State over the Lakers.
NBA basketball odds: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers
How things have changed in Los Angeles. The Lakers are the marquee franchise in the NBA but aren’t even close to being the best team in their own building as it’s the Clippers who are considered Western Conference betting favorites. Tuesday’s season opener will mark the Clippers coaching debut of Doc Rivers. The Clips are 8.5-point favorites on WagerWeb.
The Clippers and Lakers both moved into the Staples Center during the 1999-00 season, the only NBA teams to share an arena. Since then, the Lakers have hoisted five NBA championship banners to add to their 16 in total, alongside two other conference titles in that span. In that time the team has also added two more retired numbers to the jerseys that hang at the top of the arena, bringing that total to nine.
New Clippers coach Doc Rivers is attempting to change that. After the laissez-faire turn of former coach Vinny Del Negro, the former Celtics coach has decided to instill a defensive mindset and more consistent offensive philosophy for a Clippers team that disappointed with a first round exit in last year’s playoffs. And to drive a team-first point home, he’s asked the Staples Center to cover the Lakers banners when the Clippers take hold of the arena.
“Listen, I think this is our arena when we play,” Rivers said. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them. But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”
Kobe Bryant’s return date from Achilles surgery is still up in the air, but it will not be on Tuesday according to coach Mike D’Antoni.
“No,” D’Antoni said after the Lakers’ 111-106 preseason win over the Utah Jazz on Friday to finish out their exhibition schedule 4-4. “My God, I know he’s Superman, but my God. He hasn’t run yet.”
Bryant has not come close to practicing with the team yet. His basketball activity has been limited to spot shooting during training camp, and even that has been more of the set-shot than jump-shot variety. The Lakers have yet to update the official recovery timeline of six to nine months for the 18-year veteran after Bryant suffered the Achilles tear April 12 of last season against the Golden State Warriors.
L.A. started Steve Blake at shooting guard in Bryant’s place for the second consecutive game, and Blake responded with 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting. D’Antoni said a starting lineup of Blake, Steve Nash, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol — which the Lakers used in their consecutive wins against Utah to close the preseason — was a “definite possibility” for the Clippers game.
The Clippers won their first Pacific Division title last season and swept the Lakers for the first time since moving to Los Angeles. Chris Paul averaged 24.0 points, 13.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds in the four games.
WagerWeb trends: Clippers are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings. Over is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings in Los Angeles. Over is 9-0 in the last 9 meetings. Favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings. Home team is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings.
Carmelo Anthony apparently not interested in Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers struck out in re-signing Dwight Howard this summer but should have enough cap room to perhaps target two maximum-level free agents next year. They already have targeted LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. It seems like neither will be headed West.
James figures to either stay in Miami — especially if the Heat win a third straight title next season — or return to Cleveland to make amends. Anthony, meanwhile, orchestrated a trade from Denver so he could go to New York. He’d take a major public relations hit if he left. Plus, Anthony said “I doubt it” when asked about the potential of joining the Lakers as a free agent next summer.
Anthony’s comments also follow remarks from Knicks GM Glen Grunwald, who said he expects to have a “long-term, successful partnership” with Anthony. For now, it appears Anthony is unlikely to leave New York. The two sides can begin negotiating a contract extension in February. Anthony had his best season in 2012-13, leading the NBA in scoring for the first time.
Meanwhile, the Knicks also got good news in that power forward/center Kenyon Martin has re-signed with the team. Martin, a 13-year veteran, played 18 regular-season games with the Knicks last season, averaging 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. The 35-year-old also played a pivotal role for the Knicks in the playoffs.
Contract details for Martin were not immediately available. Due to salary-cap constraints, the Knicks were only able to offer free agents a minimum contract. Martin signed with the Knicks in late February and emerged as a key piece for coach Mike Woodson. His rim defense and ability to defend the paint were two key aspects of New York’s 13-game winning streak late in the regular season. Martin is expected to fill the same role this season. With Martin in the fold, the Knicks have three open roster spots.
Outside of Martin, Tyson Chandler and World Peace, the Knicks don’t have many players who can defend the paint. Depending on their remaining signings, Martin’s health could be crucial for the Knicks in 2013-14.
Dwight Howard may choose between Lakers, Rockets and Mavericks on Friday
According to well-respected basketball writer Peter Vecsey, free-agent superstar Dwight Howard is likely to make his decision on Friday in regards to what team he’ll be joining next season. Howard can’t officially sign a contract until July 10.
Houston seems to be the favorite. The NBA team talked to Hawks free agent Josh Smith on Monday about the possibility of playing in Houston with Howard, if the center chooses to sign with the Rockets. Smith and Howard are pals and grew up playing together in Atlanta. The Rockets would likely have to convince the Hawks to do a sign-and-trade with Smith to make it happen, although there has also been talk about the Rockets trading point guard Jeremy Lin or center Omer Asik to the Hawks. Both players are scheduled to earn $8.3 million in each of the next two seasons, meaning they could possibly be moved as a way to free up the funds to bring Howard and Smith together. Smith is also being targeted by the Detroit Pistons and is believed to have at least five suitors.
If all the pieces fell into place, the Rockets would have their own version of a Big 3 with Howard, Smith and James Harden and would become Western Conference favorites next season.
Howard completed the last of his five scheduled sit-down meetings with teams vying for his services by meeting with the Lakers on Tuesday afternoon in Beverly Hills. A Lakers contingent led by Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, general manager Mitch Kupchak, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and representatives from both AEG and Time Warner Cable met with Howard for nearly two hours.
“At the meeting, we told him how important he is to the Lakers team, franchise, fans and community, and why we feel this is the best place for him to continue his career,” Kupchak said in a statement. “We are hopeful that Dwight decides to remain a Laker.”
Howard repeatedly stressed that all he cares about is winning, and that would be the chief factor in his decision. Unlike the Rockets, who flew Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler into L.A. to be part of the presentation, the Lakers did not have any of the franchise’s legends present, nor were there any video messages from the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, et al. And notice how head coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t at that meeting with Howard? He clearly doesn’t feel comfortable playing in D’Antoni’s offense.
Dwight Howard reportedly won’t re-sign with Lakers
Starting July 1, Dwight Howard can visit other teams and hear the sales pitches to sign him as an unrestricted free agent. And it’s now looking more and more like Howard will not return to the Lakers and sign with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks or Atlanta Hawks.
ESPN is reporting there is very little chance of Dwight Howard re-signing with the Lakers. Howard is willing to forgo the extra $30 million the Lakers can pay him to play for a coach and in a system he feels will better use his skill set, one source said. The Lakers can offer Howard a five-year, $118 million contract, while other teams can pay him only $88 million over four years.
Howard’s major problem with the Lakers is the system that coach Mike D’Antoni employs. Beyond that, he did not enjoy playing with Kobe Bryant, though he could manage to do so in a different system, a source said. Howard also does not want to be second fiddle to Bryant for several more seasons.
Where Howard goes probably is down to Dallas and Texas — the fact there’s no state income tax in Texas helps a bit. Howard is from Atlanta but hasn’t shown much interest in the Hawks. If Howard goes to Houston, the Rockets become a championship contender with players like James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik already in place.
Howard does like the idea of being the top superstar of a franchise and with Dirk Nowitzki aging, Dallas would be viewed as Howard’s team. Howard also believes the Mavericks can build a championship roster around him with the ample cap space they will have in the summer of 2014.
Howard’s first choice would be to play with Chris Paul, but it’s expected Paul will re-sign with the Clippers after they acquired coach Doc Rivers from Boston. There has been talk of the Clippers building a package around Blake Griffin in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers, but it’s unlikely that the Lakers will want to help their co-tenants of the Staples Center.
The Lakers launched their public relations counter-attack Wednesday, starting with a series of billboards to accompany a Twitter handle simply titled #stayD12 in order to advocate to the All-Star center that he should remain in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant now says he is probably out until December
When Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles’ tendon late in the 2012-13 regular season, he immediately said he expected to be ready for Opening Night of the 2013-14 season in late October. Hard to doubt Kobe with his work ethic, but it was not really realistic, especially at his age. Apparently Bryant has woken up to that fact because now Bryant is targeting a December return to the Lakers.
Kobe admitted Wednesday that he might not be ready for the start of the NBA season, but says he is aiming to return to game action at some point in November or December after having surgery in April for a torn left Achilles tendon. Bryant said Wednesday he’s fully mobile but still is unable to run.
“I’m shooting for November, December, latest- that’s my goal in my head, that’s what. I’m shooting for. I’m really, really determined about getting there,” Bryant said.”You know, I wont have any fear or any worry about the tendon rupturing again, I mean there’s nothing I can do about it, if it goes again, it goes again. But once I’m ready to go, it’s on.”
Bryant was injured in the Lakers’ 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on April 12 after falling to the court in the fourth quarter while attempting to drive to his left past Warriors guard Harrison Barnes on the perimeter. The normal recovery timetable for such an injury is six to nine months and a December return would slot right into the middle of that timeline.
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti still doesn’t have a specific return date for the All-Star guard.
“We don’t know yet. Kobe looks exactly the way he’s supposed to look at this point in time,” said Vitti. “Kobe makes you look good as a training staff. We always feel good about how he’s going to recover from anything, and that’s a credit to him.”
The question is, will Kobe be playing with Dwight Howard when Bryant returns? Of course Howard is an unrestricted free agent and has dropped some hints he might like to play with Houston or with Chris Paul. Bryant said earlier this month that “I have to make sure I have the final word” when it comes to getting in Howard’s ear. Despite the disappointing season the Lakers had in Howard’s first year in L.A., Bryant maintained how it is important for the Lakers to re-sign Howard to a five-year, $118 million contract extension.
“It’s not like you have guys like Dwight Howard just walking around every day,” Bryant said. “Those guys are hard to find. They don’t grow on trees.”
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NBA playoff odds: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers, Game 3
The Los Angeles Lakers are beaten up and beaten down and it seems a mere formality that L.A.’s season ends sooner rather than later against the Spurs. San Antonio takes a 2-0 lead into Friday’s Game 3 and opened as a 3-point WagerWeb.com favorite to take a commanding 3-0 lead (Check our current lines. No team in NBA history has rallied to win a series after a 3-0 deficit.
The Lakers lost 102-91 in Game 2 on Wednesday. Tony Parker had 28 points and seven assists, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard had 16 points each, Manu Ginobili added 13 points, and Matt Bonner had 10 for San Antonio, which had lost three straight entering the series. After a first half in which he shot 1-for-6, Parker scored 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting in the second half en route to a game-high 28 points. Parker also had seven assists in some of his best basketball since spraining his ankle on March 1. The Spurs shot 51 percent from the field after shooting 38 percent in Game 1. San Antonio was 7-for-14 on 3-pointers, including 5-for-7 in the first half.
Dwight Howard and Steve Blake had 16 points each to lead Los Angeles. Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol added 13 points each, but no other player had more than nine as the Lakers shot 45 percent from the field. Howard played less than 3½ minutes in the third quarter after picking up his third and fourth fouls.
Lakers backup center Jordan Hill played for the first time since undergoing left hip surgery Jan. 23. He was listed as “out” for Game 2 but came off the bench with three minutes left in the game. The Lakers had six players listed as probable, but five played. Gasol (foot), Howard (shoulder), Antawn Jamison (wrist), Steve Nash (hamstring) and World Peace (knee) all played at least 20 minutes. Jodie Meeks (ankle) didn’t play and will have an MRI on Thursday.
However, Nash left Game 2 after aggravating his hamstring injury and is planning on having another epidural on Thursday, leaving him questionable for Friday’s Game 3. Blake also left early with a strained right hamstring, and the Lakers will be forced to rely upon Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris if Nash and Blake can’t go. Nash gave it his all in 32 minutes, shooting 50 percent from the field (nine points on 4-for-8 shooting) and dishing out a game-high six assists, but he didn’t have the type of impact on the game he’s used to having, and was seen limping around the court in dead-ball situations. Blake finished with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers in the loss, and is clearly questionable for Game 3.
“This has been far and away the worst season for injuries I have ever been a part of personally and professionally,” Nash said.
L.A. was 1-1 at home against San Antonio this season. The Lakers beat the Spurs there 91-86 on April 14 in their first game without Kobe Bryant. Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Blake had 23. Los Angeles blew open a tie game with a 15-4 run midway through the fourth quarter. Duncan had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs in their sixth straight road loss.
WagerWeb.com trends: Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a SU win of more than 10 points. Spurs are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. win. Spurs are 1-11 ATS in their last 12 games playing on 1 days rest. Under is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings in Los Angeles. Under is 20-7 in the last 27 meetings. Spurs are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. Favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.