On top of their game with just over one month remaining in the regular season, the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers look set to push toward the finish following a pair of statement victories over the weekend. The Lakers host the new-look Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday following a 112-103 victory Sunday over their Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets vs Lakers odds have Los Angeles laying 12 points to Brooklyn.
While the Lakers were earning their first victory in three tries against the Clippers, the Nets were getting their first victory under interim head coach Jacques Vaughn after Kenny Atkinson departed Saturday.
The Lakers’ weekend was about more than getting the best of the Clippers. They also handled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks 113-103 on Friday at home.
At 49-13, the Lakers have a 6 1/2-game lead in the conference standings and have four of their next five games at home before a challenging six-game road trip through that will be contested mostly against Eastern Conference teams.
After trailing midway through the third quarter against the Clippers, the Lakers turned it into a double-digit lead midway through the fourth period. LeBron James scored 28 points with nine assists, while Anthony Davis had 30 points and eight rebounds.
In the victory over a Bucks team that arrived with an NBA-best 55-10 record, James had 37 points and Davis had 30.
Nets vs Lakers odds
|Date||Tuesday, March 10|
|Time||10:40 p.m. ET|
|How to watch Nets vs Lakers||YES Network, NBA League Pass|
|Nets vs Lakers odds – point spread||Lakers -12|
|Nets vs Lakers odds – total points||222.5 over/under|
“I would say it was a really good weekend for us,” James said. “You know, playing against two of the best teams — the top teams in the league, including us — I just like the way we kept our composure. … No matter what was going on we held our composure and continued to get stops.”
And if the statement victories, the strong play and the key performances were not enough, James on Friday also became the third player in NBA history to surpass 34,000 points.
“It was unbelievable,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said in regard to James’ play over the two games. “It was his best weekend in a Lakers uniform (and) I’m assuming that because I wasn’t here last year. But in my mind, this season, this was his best two-game stretch. He really just dominated both games and helped close them out.”
The Lakers have won four consecutive games and 11 of their last 12, giving the appearance that their biggest challenge moving forward is to not peak too soon with the playoffs coming in mid-April.
LeBron James NBA prop bets – Top scorer (+155)
While the games against the Bucks and Lakers had a playoff atmosphere about them, Vogel moved to control the hype surrounding the victories.
“I think you learn every time you play the game but we do keep the regular-season games in perspective,” Vogel said. “There are a lot of factors that go into it. These are games that really don’t matter come playoff time whether you win or lose.
“But to measure the habits we’re trying to build, its’ very encouraging to see our guys perform at this level against two of the best teams in the league.”
The game will mean plenty as well for a Nets team looking to measure themselves against the league’s best, all while adjusting to a new head coach. Brooklyn is pushing through the loss of Kyrie Irving (shoulder) for the season with three victories in their last four games, including a road victory over the Boston Celtics in that stretch.
The Nets (29-34) are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and would have a playoff date against the Toronto Raptors if the season ended Monday. At the start of play Monday, the Nets were six games clear of the ninth-place Washington Wizards.
A matchup against a top team like the Lakers is not the best timing for a Nets team navigating through the chaos of Atkinson’s departure.
Caris LeVert NBA prop bets – Top scorer (+550)
Vaughn had the answers for his team in Sunday’s 110-107 home victory over the Chicago Bulls. Tuesday’s game, though, is a much higher step up in class.
“Just glad for the guys that were able to get back on the floor, get back to what they enjoy doing, love doing – compete and playing the game of basketball,” Vaughn told reporters after the victory Sunday. “At the end of the day, that was the best part of getting together and competing today.”
Even in a victory, Vaughn found something that needs immediate attention. The Nets had a whopping 28 turnovers against the Bulls but won anyway.
There still was no doubting the effort from a Nets team that had 23 assists and outrebounded the Bulls 50-31. That level of play came not long after the team insisted Atkinson’s departure was not player driven.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris all had 23 points for the Nets in the victory, with LeVert noting there was a distinct difference with Vaughn on the bench. Most notable was DeAndre Jordan’s insertion into the starting lineup.
“JV's a former player in this league,” the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie said, according to the Nets’ official website. “Has a lot of experience. Former head coach as well.
“I think he has a great potential to speak honestly, continue the upwards trajectory and carry us into the playoffs and kinda galvanize the group in a tough time. I think he's gonna do a great job and we're focused on him and also helping him be the best that he can be.”