Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 5 Preview and Pick

Houston Rockets +12 at L.A. Lakers -12 O/U 198 10:30 PM ET Tuesday May 12, 2009 on TNT

by Jason Green of Predictem.com

This series is tied 2-2.

Tonight the Rockets head to La La land to take on the L.A. Lakers in game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. Nobody gave the Rockets a chance in this series after losing Yao Ming for the year with a foot injury, but the Rockets came back and shocked the Lakers in game 4 to even this series. The Rockets came out firing in game 4 to take a 55-36 lead at halftime and even though the Lakers made a big comeback in the 4th quarter they still lost by 12 points. Shane Battier picked up the scoring slack in Ming’s absence going for 23 points in game 4. Usually the Lakers win when Kobe does not take a ton of shots, but in game 4 he only took 17 shots and they still lost. Starters Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher only combined for 4 points on 2/8 shooting. Lakers C Andrew Bynum did not take advantage of not facing Ming, as he did not score in game 4 and only grabbed 2 boards.

Hoops bookies have the Lakers as 12-point favorites in this game with a total of 198. The Lakers are posted as big favorites at -1000 and the Rockets as major road dogs at +800.

The Rockets beat the Lakers 99-87 on Sunday. The high scorer in that game for the Rockets was Aaron Brooks blowing up for 34 points on 12/20 shooting including going 4/9 from 3-point land. For the game the Rockets shot 36/80 for a FG% of 45%. Pau Gasol was the high scorer for the Lakers in game 4 going for 30 points on 11/17 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 34/86 for a FG% of 44.7%.

This season the ranked 3rd in scoring (106.7 ppg) and the Rocket ranked 17th (98.4 ppg). On D the Rockets ranked 7th this year in points allowed (94.4 ppg) and the Lakers ranked 13th (99.1 ppg). Both teams were legit on the boards this season, as the Lakers were at +2.6 rpg and the Rockets were at 3.1 rpg.

This season the Lakers were 42-39-1 ATS and the Rockets were 40-41-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Lakers were 41-39-1 and the Rockets were 40-41-1.

On the injury front Yao Ming is Out for the Rockets and Lamar Odom is day to day for the Lakers.

Lamar Odom suffered a back injury in game 4 and he will be a game time decision tonight.

Kobe was only 7/17 from the floor in game 4 and he did not attempt one free throw. He has to get back to attacking the rim and getting to the line.

Kobe is not the only Lakers player that has to be more physical, as the Lakers only took 18 free throws in game 4. Overall the Lakers only made 11 free throws for a paltry FT% of 61.1%.

The Lakers may have taken the Yao-less Ming lightly in game 4 and it came back to bite them. They will not make that mistake again. The Rockets will have to play a great game to head back to Houston with the series lead.

Even without Ming the Rockets had more rebounds in game 4 and tonight the Lakers have to hit the boards hard. That will be more difficult if Lamar Odom can’t go, so Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have to hit the glass.

Gasol has to play good D against Shane Battier and not allow him to have another big scoring game. Battier was 5/10 from beyond the 3-pt arc and Gasol has to play him high and not let him bomb away from downtown.

The Rockets will have to play another scrappy game and play good defense on the Lakers tonight, who will be sure to come out and try to dominate this home game from the tip off.

Even though the Rockets are big underdogs in this game all the pressure is on the Lakers, as they cannot afford to lose this game and head back to Houston down 3-2.

Jason’s Pick: Payback time for the Rockets. No home floor and they’ll be facing a ticked off Laker team that should be motivated to smoke them tonight. Lay the points and expect a 15 point win by LA.