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Lakers’ power rating creeps up

Even with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in arguably the NBA’s most feared starting five, the Los Angeles Lakers were easy to bet against at 1-4 through five games. That is changing, slightly if not suddenly, after the team changed coaches.

The Lakers were an obvious mess under former coach Mike Brown, who tried to implement a slow-paced Princeton offense misfit for his personnel. A poor start, following an 0-8 preseason, led to Brown’s firing last Friday and an instant rise – albeit a minor boost – in Los Angeles’ power rating.

“When I found out Brown was fired, I adjusted the Lakers’ power rating up by one point, just because of that,” LVH oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “I think anything is an improvement over Brown. I didn’t like his hiring in the first place.”

Sherman has put a power rating of 99 on the Lakers, behind only Miami (104) and Oklahoma City and San Antonio (each at 102).

The Lakers, 2-1 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, are probably the most scrutinized team in the NBA and certainly its biggest draw at Las Vegas sports books. Bettors and oddsmakers will be evaluating the team closely.

Mike D’Antoni is expected to debut as coach Sunday, when Los Angeles hosts Houston. Without point guard Steve Nash, the Lakers are 9-point home favorites over Phoenix today.

“It’s still going to take some time,” said SportsMemo.com handicapper Erin Rynning, who questions the Lakers’ defense, depth and transition to yet another offensive system. “It’s really more of a wait-and-see process.

“The Lakers can bully the bad teams, but against the better teams they are still going to have some issues. I would say probably look more to bet against them until Nash gets back in there, and then it will take a couple weeks.”

The LVH did not move the Lakers’ odds to win the NBA championship from 4-1. If Phil Jackson had returned as coach, Sherman said he would have lowered the odds to 7-2. Only the Heat (8-5) have lower odds than the Lakers, who still sit above the Thunder (9-2) and Spurs (8-1).

“I’m not eager to make an (odds) adjustment until I see something out of D’Antoni,” Sherman said. “I’m taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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