PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (17-15) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (18-13)

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PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (17-15) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (18-13)


2012-02-20

Tip-off: Monday, 10:35 p.m. ET

Line: Los Angeles -4, Total: 180


After yet another disappointing effort on the road (12-point loss at Phoenix), the Lakers return home Monday night in search of a fifth straight win at Staples Center when they host the Blazers.

In the past 20 meetings between these teams at Staples Center, the average spread has been 8½ points. Monday's low spread is a gift, as L.A. is 17-3 SU in this span, winning those games by 11.0 PPG. The Lakers are 10-5 ATS at home, while the Blazers are 6-9 ATS on the road. Although LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle) returned to action Saturday, he is not yet 100 percent and struggled mightily in his past four games at Staples, shooting a subpar 41.5% FG. The pick here is LOS ANGELES to win and cover.

Portland is finally back to full strength with the return of PF LaMarcus Aldridge (22.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG), who missed the better part of three games with a sprained left ankle. Aldridge helped spark his team to a 97-77 home blowout of Atlanta on Saturday with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. SF Nicolas Batum (13.6 PPG) led all scorers with 22 points, continuing his hot play of late. Batum has 22.8 PPG on 53% FG in his past four games, all starts. He also scored 25 in his team’s last road game with the Lakers last March. PG Raymond Felton (10.1 PPG, 6.4 APG) bounced back from a scoreless (0-for-7 FG) Thursday night against the Clippers and scored 14 points with eight assists against the Hawks. His career numbers versus the Lakers are pretty solid (15.2 PPG, 6.6 APG), but he shot only 3-of-14 FG in the last meeting on Jan. 5, a 107-96 Blazers home win. Speaking of that last meeting, Gerald Wallace (13.8 PPG) tallied a season-high 31 points in that win. But Wallace has struggled on the road this year with just 9.8 PPG on 38.5% FG (25.9% 3-pt FG).

Kobe Bryant (NBA-high 29.0 PPG) vented his frustration after Sunday’s 102-90 loss in Phoenix, a game in which his team trailed by 27 points in the third quarter. Bryant turned the ball over 10 times in the defeat, but still finished with 32 points, seven boards and five assists. PF Pau Gasol (16.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG) posted his ninth straight double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss, as he has been able to overcome the distractions of swirling trade rumors (which Bryant disapproves of) to average 17.4 PPG and 13.7 RPG in this nine-game span. Gasol averages 17.1 PPG and 9.0 RPG in 36 career meetings with Portland. C Andrew Bynum (16.3 PPG, 12.5 RPG) has double-doubles in eight of his past 10 games, averaging 16.4 PPG and 13.1 RPG during this span.



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