The Los Angeles Lakers really need to string together some wins. And they’re facing a team that’s on a heck of a run.
The Lakers are 20-25 ahead of Friday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) and haven’t been at .500 at all this season.
By now, you likely know the Lakers started the season at 2-10. That’s put them in a hole they’re still digging out of. A five-game win streak at the beginning of January got Los Angeles to 19-21, but that’s the closest the Lakers have been to .500 all season long.
Los Angeles is 1-4 since getting to 19-21 and lost 116-111 to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Lakers’ struggles and a corresponding Grizzlies hot streak are a big reason why Memphis is a 6.5-point favorite ahead of the game. The Grizzlies enter Friday’s game on an 11-game win streak after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on a buzzer-beating tip-in by Steven Adams earlier in the week. A 12th straight win for the Grizz would be a franchise record.
Memphis hasn’t lost since Dec. 27 and is now 31-13 and a half-game back of the Denver Nuggets for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies match up extremely well with the Lakers too. They have versatile defenders in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane to counter LeBron James and Ja Morant can stick with Russell Westbrook. It’s not hard to convince ourselves that Memphis can cover the spread.
Other NBA action
There are eight other NBA games on Friday night, including a matchup of the two best teams against the spread this season.
Oklahoma City visits Sacramento and the Kings are 3.5-point favorites. Both OKC and Sacramento have been two of the biggest surprises of the season. The Thunder are on the periphery of the play-in tournament while the Kings are atop the Pacific Division in their quest to end a 16-year playoff drought.
Oklahoma City is the best team in the league against the spread this season at 29-16. No other team in the league is at better than a 60% cover rate. The Kings are second in the NBA at 25-18 against the spread. That’s a 58% cover rate.
There’s also a matchup of betting bottom-feeders Friday night. The Miami Heat visit the Dallas Mavericks (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) as both teams are among the bottom three against the spread this season. Miami is a 1.5-point favorite as Christian Wood is sidelined for the Mavericks. Dallas is a league-worst 15-29-2 against the spread this season while Miami isn’t much better at 18-25-3.
The American Express continues
The second round of the PGA Tour’s American Express tournament begins Friday and betting the event takes a tad more research than other tournaments.
The AmEx is played at three different courses over the first three rounds before the final round is played at the Stadium Course in La Quinta, California. The Stadium Course is the toughest of the three courses that host the first three rounds while the Nicklaus Tournament course and La Quinta course are much easier.
Jon Rahm is the overwhelming favorite after the first round at +250 to win the tournament. Rahm is two shots back of the lead after he played his first round at La Quinta. Sam Burns is the No. 2 favorite at +800 and may be a better bet than Rahm. Burns also shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday and did it on the Stadium Course.
The AmEx field is stacked compared to previous tournaments. In addition to Burns and Rahm, the entry list also features Xander Schauffele (-7), Sungjae Im (-7), Cameron Young (-4) and Patrick Cantlay (-4), along with Tony Finau (-3) and Tom Kim (-3).
Just 32 of the 156 golfers entered in the tournament shot over par in their first rounds. With the cut coming after the third round because of the course rotation, the cut line is going to be a very low number.
Who cashed tickets Thursday night?
The Warriors covered the spread in a 121-118 overtime loss at the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. The Celtics outscored the Warriors by seven in the fourth quarter to force overtime and get the win. Golden State is now 22-23 and has been awful on the road this season.
The upset of the night came in Spokane where No. 6 Gonzaga lost 68-67 at home to Loyola Marymount. It’s the first loss in 76 games at home for the Zags after they were 17-point favorites on Thursday night.