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Our expert hoops handicapper Stephen Rodriguez gives his best picks for today's NBA games

NBA All-Star reserves were named on Thursday night, as well as rule changes to honor the late Kobe Bryant at the upcoming All-Star game.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers return to the hardwood at Staples Center for the first time since the tragic loss of the NBA legend.

Here’s a look at today’s NBA games:


Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles Lakers (-12), 10:00 PM:

  • The Trail Blazers have the thirdworst ATS record in the NBA this season at (18-28-2).
  • Los Angeles has won four of the last five meetings with Portland. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

Los Angeles (36-10) return from a five-day absence of basketball since the loss of Bryant. Last time out, the Lakers wrapped up a five-game road trip with a 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the all-time scoring list, scoring 29 points with eight assists and seven rebounds. Anthony Davis added a game-high 31 points with seven rebounds.

The Portland Trail Blazers (21-27) picked up a second straight win after defeating the Houston Rockets 125-112.

Damian Lillard went off in every facet of the game, totaling a triple-double with 36 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, including six made three-pointers. Hassan Whiteside added a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

This game will be played with heavy hearts in Los Angeles, and I expect the Lakers to rally behind the tragedy and come out in a big way as Bryant would have wanted.

2u - Los Angeles Lakers (-12) @ -110

Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets (-5), 7:30 PM:

  • Brooklyn has won seven of the last eight meetings with Chicago.
  • The Nets have a 62 ATS record against the Bulls since 2017-18. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

Brooklyn (20-26) got back on track and took down the Detroit Pistons 125-115 on an emotional night in Brooklyn.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and knocked down four three-pointers while scoring a game-high 28 points with seven assists. Kyrie Irving added 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Chicago (19-31) snapped a two-game winning streak after falling in overtime to the Indiana Pacers 115-106.

Zach LaVine led Chicago’s starters with 20 points, nine assists,and four rebounds. Chandler Hutchinson came off the bench and added a team-high 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

The Nets have owned this series as of late and with Chicago’s road troubles this season (8-16), I like Brooklyn to cover at home and keep the wins coming.

1u - Brooklyn Nets (-5) @ -105

Dallas Mavericks (+5) @ Houston Rockets, 7:30 PM:

  • The Mavericks have the ninthbest ATS record in the NBA this season at (24-20-3).
  • Dallas is 43 ATS in Houston since 2016-17. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

Dallas (29-18) were blown out at home getting rolled by the Phoenix Suns 133-104. The Mavericks couldn’t contain the Phoenix offense and allowed them to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field.

Luka Doncic was the lone starter to score in double figures, scoring 21 points with six rebounds on 7-of-15 shooting. J.J. Barea and Jalen Brunson both added 15 points off the bench.

Houston (29-18) couldn’t keep up with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, losing 125-112.

Russell Westbrook had an explosive double-double with a game-high 39 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. The league’s leading scorer James Harden had himself a quiet night, scoring 18 points with five rebounds and four assists.

These teams met back in late November at the Toyota Center and the Mavericks rolled past Houston on the road 137-123. I can see something similar happening on Friday night as the Rockets have looked lost lately, losing six of the last 10.

With these two teams battling for seeding in the Western Conference, my expectation is Dallas will either win outright or keep this game close enough to cover the spread.

1u - Dallas Mavericks (+9.5) @ -105

By Stephen Rodriguez


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