Hornets vs. Lakers NBA Preview

LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets loses the ball. Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images/AFP
LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets loses the ball. Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images/AFP


The Los Angeles Lakers might have a slight edge against the NBA odds this Thursday when they host the Charlotte Hornets – but is it enough?


Charlotte Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Thursday, March 18, 2021 – 10:30 PM EDT at Staples Center


The last time we looked at the Los Angeles Lakers (27-13 SU, 20-20 ATS), I was pointing out how unimpressive they are without Anthony Davis in the lineup. They were 3-4 SU and ATS going into their March 2 matchup with the Phoenix Suns, and they lost that one too, 114-104 as 1.5-point home dogs. Too bad I picked Under 215.5 instead. So close. Then a funny thing happened: The Lakers went 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in their next four games. Maybe L.A. supporters started panicking about Davis; maybe the NBA lines got even more skewed after Marc Gasol went on the COVID-19 list, just in time for that Suns game. Had I known Gasol wouldn’t be in the lineup, I wouldn’t have picked the Under – in fact, I’m recommending the Over for Thursday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets (20-19 SU, 21-18-1 ATS), now that PointsBet have opened it at 227.5.

Panic In Los Angeles

We’re at the point in the season where so many star players are missing, it’s easy for bettors to overreact and move the NBA spreads too far in the other direction. The Lakers may have been the exception to the rule when Davis (plus-1.6 VORP) first hit the shelf – they’ve still got LeBron James (plus-3.2 VORP), after all. He’s the only player that matters for a lot of people out there. But that 3-5 SU and ATS skid may have put a scare in the marketplace, making L.A. worth betting again at a bargain price. Too bad for us the Hornets are so hot right now. True, they got spanked 129-104 by the Denver Nuggets as 6.5-point road dogs Wednesday night, and they have to make the trip to Los Angeles and play Thursday on zero days of rest. But Charlotte have otherwise performed very well of late, winning their previous four games at 3-1 ATS, and nine of their previous 14 at 8-6 ATS. Fading the Hornets as 8-point road dogs at SBK might not have enough value to be worth more than a tiny bet.

 The Spanish Inquisition

Which is where Gasol (plus-0.6 VORP) comes in. He’s arguably the best defender on the Lakers, but his offense isn’t what it used to be; Gasol is shooting a career-low 40.3 percent from the floor, on a career-low 2.5 attempts per 36 minutes. Damian Jones (plus-0.1 VORP in six games) hasn’t exactly lit it up since taking over as the starting center, but he’s made almost all his shots, and the Over is 3-2 without Big Spain at the 5-spot. The Hornets look like the right dance partner for this bet. They had the Over at 20-17-1 heading into Wednesday’s matchup, which went Over the posted total of 229 points. This is a young team that’s fairly average at both ends of the court, but they have some serious offensive talent in

LaMelo Ball (plus-1.2 VORP), Gordon Hayward (plus-1.2 VORP) and Terry Rozier (plus-1.2 VORP). If Charlotte have tired legs Thursday night, it will probably hurt them more on defense – and that might be enough to get the job done for us, provided Gasol misses this game as well.

NBA Pick: Over 227.5 (–115) at PointsBet

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