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Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA Gambling Preview & Pick

Phoenix vs L.A. NBA Betting Odds

Kobe Bryant is back, but the Los Angeles Lakers have a ways to go before we consider them contenders. The Phoenix Suns will put that notion to the test Tuesday night when they enter the Staples Center looking for their 12th win of the 2013-14 NBA season. [ad-4468020]

Phoenix (11-9) @ Los Angeles (10-10)
Tuesday, Dec. 10 10:30 PM ET @ Staples Center
Spread: Lakers -3
O/U: 205.5

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This rivalry doesn’t have the mystique it once had, but all eyes should be on this one, as fans look for improvements from both Bryant and the Lakers at this point in the season.

Phoenix

For the Phoenix Suns, entering this contest sparks a lot of mystery when it comes to their defensive game plan. They have no idea if the Kobe Bryant they’ll see is one who is ready to compete for a championship, or if he’ll be the rusty veteran we saw in his debut against the Toronto Raptors.

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Although it’s tough for anyone to imagine Bryant being at 100 percent so quickly, that’s the mentality Phoenix must enter with. If it doesn’t take the 15-time All-Star seriously, he could strike at any moment, leaving a trail of Suns in his dust.

Bryant aside, Phoenix has one main objective in this one: contain the Lakers’ bench.

Los Angeles has had arguably the best set of reserves in the league this season, and while it’s difficult to ignore the starters, L.A. has allowed its opponents to do just that.

Inconsistent showings from guys such as Pau Gasol make game planning simpler than it has to be, which means the Suns have to be ready for long-distance shooting and transition offense from players such as Xavier Henry, Nick Young and Jodie Meeks.

Offensively, Phoenix must look to attack the paint.

The team is just 17th in scoring at the rim, but it is going up against a defense that is allowing the second most points in that particular category. Los Angeles’ perimeter defense has been guilty of breaking down in isolation sets, and the bigs haven’t done must to combat a strong attack.
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The Suns would be smart to take advantage of that deficiency in this one.

Lakers

The thing to watch for the Lakers is how head coach Mike D’Anonti manages Kobe Bryant’s minutes.

He’s expected to play him about 25 minutes per game while recovering from injury, but if the Black Mamba is rolling, you have to believe nobody on earth will be able to get the superstar out of the game and onto the bench.

On defense, D’Antoni must preach transition stops. The Suns are the No. 1 team in fastbreak points per game, and they also lead the league in fastbreak efficiency.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it is 23rd in defensive transition efficiency, and second-to-last in transition points allowed.

If the Lakers can buckle down and play a style of defensive that is conducive to stopping the run, they’ll be in good shape.

That said, they’ve yet to do that all season, and unless Bryant can take over on offense in the process, canceling out Phoenix’s efficiency, they’ll be looking at another loss in this season full of ups and downs.

Prediction: Phoenix 105 – Lakers 97

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