Odds on San Antonio and Boston winning the title look good

Feb 17, 2011 7:15 AM

Up to now bettors in Las Vegas haven’t panicked over the Los Angeles Lakers, understanding that the defending NBA champions will return to form in the playoffs.

But, odds on San Antonio and Boston winning the title are looking mighty good these days.

The Lakers limp home for the All Star Game break fresh off a humiliating 104-99 loss Wednesday night to Cleveland, a team LA defeated last month by 55 points at Staples Center in the middle of the Cavaliers’ sports record 26-game losing streak.

Looking nothing like two-time defending NBA champions, the Lakers dropped their third straight game. All this just when the Lakers seemed to answer the doubters following road wins at Boston and New York.

OK, not so bad losing to the Orlando Magic. But then came inexplicable losses to Charlotte by 20 and the ultimate debacle at Cleveland. Charlotte has defeated the Lakers in 8 of the last 10 meetings. Charlotte, not the Heat, Celtics or Spurs!

On Nov. 2, the Lakers were 3-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton to win a third straight NBA championship. The Lakers began this week only slightly higher at 7-2. Meanwhile, San Antonio is 5-1 with the best record in the NBA. Boston, leading the Eastern Conference, is 5-2.

"It’s a painful, painful loss," said Pau Gasol, who had 30 points and 20 rebounds against Cleveland. "It’s very disappointing. I don’t understand it."

Ramon Sessions came off the bench and scored a season-high 32 points for the Cavaliers, who were beaten 112-57 by the Lakers on Jan. 11.