LeBron James added to his legendary status over the weekend in passing former Laker Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Still going to be very tough for James to catch No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar simply due to Father Time. Kareem, another former Laker, sits at 38,387 so it would likely take James another three seasons if healthy. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week matchups around the NBA. Check back for NBA odds.
Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – January 27th Edition
LA Clippers at LA Lakers
- When: Tuesday, 10 PM ET (TNT)
This will be an emotional night without question because it’s the first time the Lakers take the court since Kobe Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash in the L.A. area on Sunday along with his daughter and seven others. In 2017, the Lakers retired both of Kobe’s numbers, 8 and 24. So weird that Kobe died the day after LeBron James passed him on the all-time scoring list. Bryant, though, is the all-time leading Lakers scorer and James isn’t catching him there. LeBron, incidentally, now needs 3,274 points to surpass Karl Malone for sole possession of second place on the all-time scoring list.
Everyone believes this will be a Western Conference Finals preview. The Clippers have won both meetings with the Lakers so far. It was 112-102 on Opening Night when the Clippers didn’t have Paul George. They last played on Christmas and the Clippers won 111-106. The Clippers trailed by 12 points at halftime, by 15 in the third quarter, and by seven in the fourth quarter with 6 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, but they rallied to win.
Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Leonard set a franchise record for points on Christmas, and he became the 10th player in NBA history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists on Dec. 25. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points. LeBron James had 23 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 24 points.
The two teams have met 222 times overall and on 156 occasions since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles. The Lakers lead the all-time series 148-74 (102-54 vs. LAC). The Lakers have lost eight season series in the all-time matchup with the Clippers (2012-18, 1992-93 and 1974-75).
Not clear if the Lakers will have center JaVale McGee. He has missed the past two due to illness. It’s thought he will play but if not Dwight Howard would start. Howard is currently tied with Shaquille O’Neal for ninth in regular season double-doubles all-time, totaling 727.
Chicago at Indiana
- When: Wednesday, 7 PM ET (NBA League Pass)
The Bulls stink and the Pacers should blow them out, but this game is interesting because it will be the season debut of Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo barring a setback. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon in January 2019.
Oladipo has made each of the last two Eastern Conference All-Star teams, though he was unable to play in last season’s game. He averaged 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 42.3 percent shooting, though he struggled to stay healthy for most of the season. Last week, the Pacers assigned him to their G-League team to practice with that team.
Indiana has been surprisingly good without him this year. That wasn’t the case the previous two seasons. The Pacers posted a 23-23 record without Oladipo in the lineup in 2018-19 after going 0-7 without him in 2017-18.
Indiana is 2-0 vs. Chicago this season. They last met on Jan. 10 and the Pacers won 116-105 in the Windy City. Myles Turner dominated with 27 points and 14 rebounds. The Pacers overcame 43 points by Zach LaVine and escaped with the victory after Chicago rallied from 16 down to cut the deficit to four in the closing minutes. Indiana was without its two best players (other than Oladipo) in Malcolm Brogdon (strep throat) and Domantas Sabonis (sore left knee). Those two have largely carried the team in Oladipo’s absence.
Indiana has won seven straight regular season meetings and 10 of the last 11 overall in this series. The Pacers have won seven straight regular season home games against the Bulls. Chicago’s last road win at Indiana came on March 29, 2016.
The Bulls are without one of their better players in Lauri Markkanen. Over the weekend, it was revealed he would miss 4-6 weeks with a right pelvis injury. The Bulls are already without Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) and Daniel Gafford (thumb) up front as well.
Expert NBA Betting Picks
Back Lakers and Pacers.