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Bet on the NBAAfter pummeling the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers are back at it Friday for a game in Utah against the mediocre Jazz. Los Angeles is the hottest team in the league right now, winning 16 of their last 17 games and inching ever closer to the top spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz are a little under .500 and have dropped six consecutive games.

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The Lakers are listed by the sportsbook as the 8.5 point favorites, and based on their performance last night, that might be too few points to give the Jazz. The total is set at 194.5. The Lakers are coming off of one of their most important games of the season on Thursday, blowing out conference rival Dallas Mavericks 110-82 in a wild game where five players were ejected.

Now, Los Angeles enters probably its most challenging part of this late season stretch, as they play three of their next five games on the road, starting with the Jazz. Thankfully, Utah's basketball program should not be a huge challenge for the red hot Lakers. The only real question is whether the Lakers can get enough rest to come out and win these back-to-back games.

The Jazz are currently seeing their playoff hopes diminish. With seven games left on their schedule, they are six games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the last playoff spot in the West. Their recent record with six straight losses must be especially frustrating for the team, and looking forward to playing the Lakers must not be any more encouraging.

Utah is coming off of a 100-95 home loss to the Washington Wizards in overtime. The team is slightly over .500 at home, with a record of 20-18 in Salt Lake City. One of those wins, however, came against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the season. The season series between the two is tied at one game each, with the home team winning each time.

But tonight, the Jazz will face a much tougher, more confident Lakers team than they played at any other time during the season. The Lakers are looking to end the season with the best record in the league, and are closing in on the Spurs' place atop the Western Conference. They just tied the Chicago Bulls second best record in the NBA.


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