Fratello on
his way out?

Nov 21, 2006 4:48 AM

The NBA season continues to produce its share of early season surprises, the biggest of which might be the performance of Utah.

The Jazz have started 9-1 and have the best record in the league. Almost as surprising are the 7-3 starts by both Orlando and Cleveland, tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

At the other end of the spectrum is Memphis. The Grizzlies were expected to decline this season following some key off season departures and the early season absence of star Pau Gasol due to injury. Veteran head coach Mike Fratello could be the first coaching casualty of the season before much longer as their 1-8 record is the worst in the league.

Through Sunday, road teams enjoyed a solid pointspread edge over home teams. The roadies were 79-63-1 against the spread for a 55.6 winning percentage. The ”˜over/under’ has been virtually even. The ”˜over’ has a one-game edge.

Here’s a look at three games to be played over the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.

Kings at Sonics (Fri): Seattle has been off to an interesting start, winning 3-of- 7 road games and dropping 3-of-4 at home. Sacramento has played more typical ball, winning 4-of-5 at home and losing 3-of-4 on the road. This is the first meeting this season after the Kings took 3-of-4 from Seattle last season. Ron Artest gives the Kings a defensive presence long missing from the team. With greater depth, the Kings should be able to get a road win as a likely short favorite. KINGS.

Jazz at Warriors (Sat): Utah has been involved in more high scoring games than expected under conservative coach Jerry Sloan. Golden State has played more ”˜under’ than ”˜over’ contests for coach Don Nelson, a proponent of up and down the court basketball. Utah was 3-1 against the Warriors last season, with the last three games exceeding the posted total. Look for both defenses to tire in the second half. OVER.

Nets at Lakers (Sun): New Jersey is playing its fourth game in seven nights in wrapping up a West Coast trip. The Lakers have gotten off to a fast start as Kobe Bryant becomes more of a leader as the veteran presence on what is still a pretty young team. The Lakers play 12 of the next 14 at home. The Nets took both meetings last season. Having been on the road for the holiday, New Jersey might be looking forward to returning home. LAKERS.