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Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee dunks against the Houston Rockets during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee dunks against the Houston Rockets during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)|(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
NBA

NBA: Thursday we like Lakers at home to protect against ’Wolves

Timberwolves (-1.5) @ Lakers (228.5) 10:35 pm

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

Timberwolves (-1.5) @ Lakers (228.5) 10:35 pm
Pick: Lakers +1.5

Are the Minnesota Timberwolves really about to start a west coast trip 2-0? They’ve only won seven road games this season and one of them was a 118-91 whitewashing of the putrid Suns on Tuesday. This isn’t the showtime Lakers they’re up against, but it’s still a step up in competition, as is almost anyone when your last game is against the Suns. The Lakers are still without LeBron James, but they’ve started to find their way without the king slowly but surely. They remained quasi-competitive with Golden State for a half without James on Monday, but last week Los Angeles showed us a little something. The Lakers took the Rockets and Thunder to overtime without their best player and pulled away to win by 10 points in Oklahoma City. At the end of the day, it’s still two out of three games the Lakers have lost, but their overall quality of play without James seems to have improved when you consider where they were before that Oklahoma City win. Two of the worst teams in the East came into the Staples Center, and one of them, the Cleveland Cavaliers, left with a win while the Chicago Bulls remained within single digits of the Lakers most of the way. Going on the road and being as competitive as the Lakers were in Oklahoma City and Houston indicated that they’re just not going to wave the white flag until James returns. Throw in the fact that Minnesota is not a good team in the first place, and an even worse team on the road, and we’ll take the Lakers here to protect their home floor.