GREG GAMBLE’S 2008-09 HARDWOOD Picks: 69-54 ats…56%
NBA 49-39 - NCAA 14-13 - Teasers 6-2 - Church League 69-0
TORONTO RAPTORS (+3.5) @ PHOENIX SUNS
The Suns looked more depressed in Los Angeles than a female entertainer on the set of “No Holes Barred”. And tonight, they head back to Phoenix to play a suddenly hot Raptors squad in-front of half as many fans as they had a couple weeks ago. Speaking of those crazy Canadians, swapping the Matrix for Jermaine O’Neal was an absolute steal for Toronto. And not only for salary purposes, but because the Suns' ole high-flying stuff-stuffer gives the Boshinator his lane back!
With Marion able to score w/out being a focal point on offense (aka the anti JO) and the 7-foot Bargnani spacing the floor (last 2 gms: 27 ppg, 7 rpg, 57-3pt%), the crafty kid from Dallas finally looked like his old self in only his third game back (26 pts, 6 reb, 2 blk). In addition, because of Shawn’s unique abilities, Jose Calderon now has a perfect slasher for his playmaking wizardry. Throw-in the remarkable play of late from the always efficient Anthony Parker (last 2 gms: 24 ppg, 7 rpg, 5 apg) and the deadly range from 6th man Jason Kapono (43-3pt%), and Toronto should easily start to climb in the East.
Back to tonight’s contest, with the Black Jesus out, no team in the league has worse options at PF than the Suns. Their last two games, SF Grant “Bionic-Ankle” Hill has slide over to the position to start the game, while a long-haired white dude named Louis weighing 225 lbs came off the bench. As a result and with Shaq on a back-to-back (not to mention the emotion from playing against Kobe last night), Bosh should have a field day working his mid-range and low-post game. As for Nash (ankle-questionable), considering he already lost a few steps, I can’t see how he looks sharp on a bad wheel and against the active Senior Calderon. And finally, love him or hate, Shawn Marion will be psyched to be playing in Phoenix tonight and will love that thought of blowing-out his ole crew…RAPTORS BY 7-12 POINTS
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (-2.5) @ DENVER NUGGETS
The Nuggets have been struggling of late losing the final three games of their road trip and barely beating an undermanned Hot-Lanta squad at home Wednesday. As for the Lakers, they basically had the night off blowing out Phoenix yesterday as the bench totaled 119 minutes of action. Throw-in a banged-up frontcourt for the Nuggets, and I expect the Lakers to beat Carmelo & Co. for a third straight time this season with ease…LAKERS BY 7-12 POINTS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (+2) @ SUCKTOWN KINGS
The few times Camby, Baby-Fat Zach, & Baron have all been on the floor together, the results have been rather impressive. And since ESPN’s Bill Simmons candid article came out where he sat in Baron’s kitchen at the deadline convincing him to play with the same magic & passion that made us luv him (and AK-47 posterized forever), the crazy cat has led his squad to two wins & averaged 21 pts, 8 ass, 8 reb, & 4 steals in the process. Actually, I shouldn’t have said led as Zach has been a beast since returning from cracking that cracker on PHX (29 ppg, 12 apg). Throw-in a bunch of youngsters that have already received a ton of PT cause of injuries and a rare opportunity for a 4 game win-streak w/ a home tilt Saturday w/ Charlotte, & I actually expect the Clip to have some swagger tonight.
As for the Kings and/or PICTURES OF MORE HOTTIES…
As for the Kings, they already were one of the worst teams in the league before they decided to trade away their second (John Salmons) & third (Brad Miller) best players for cap space. Especially with their two young bigs struggling on D, Spencer Hawes & rook Jason Thompson, responsible for stopping the inside-out magic of Randolph, and a slow-footed PG (Beno Udrih) attempting to slow a rejuvenated B-Dizzle, and this has the makings of another embarrassing home-loss for Maloof brothers…CLIPPERS BY 5-10 POINTS