Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Houston Rockets (5-4 6-3 ATS) vs. L.A. Lakers (7-2 3-6 ATS) Staples Center 9:30 PM EST Sunday November 15, 2009 on FOX Sports West
by Jason Green at Predictem.com

Point Spread: Rockets +8.5 / Lakers -8.5
Over/Under: 204.5

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Tonight the L.A. Lakers host the Houston Rockets and both teams are coming off a loss. The Lakers’ loss dropped them to 2nd place in the Pacific Division being a game back of the Phoenix Suns. The surprising Rockets are 5-4 and in 2nd place in the Southwest Division even though everyone expected nothing from them this season without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.

This is the 2nd meeting of these 2 teams and the Lakers won the 1st meeting, but they needed OT to do it in Houston. The Subplot in this game is that Trevor Ariza makes his first appearance back at the Staples Center after going to the Rockets in the post season. In the first game former Rocket Ron Artest and Ariza had words and each got a technical foul in the game, but Artest had the last word going for 15 points wile Ariza struggled shooting 5/21 from the floor. The Lakers have won 5 straight regular season games against the Rockets.

In their last game the Lakers were crushed by the Denver Nuggets 105-79 on Friday night. Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant were the high scorers for the game for the Lakers both going on 19 points. For the game the Lakers were ice cold, as they only shot 31/88 from the floor for a FG% of 35.2%. On D the Lakers allowed the Nuggets to shoot 37/85 for a FG% of 43.5%.

On Friday night the Rockets lost to the lowly Sacramento Kings 109-100. The high scorer for the Rockets was Trevor Ariza going for 28 points on 10/21 shooting. For the game the Rockets shot 37/89 for a FG% of 41.6%. On D the Rockets did not play well allowing the Kings to shoot 39/81 for a FG% of 48.1%.

This season the Rockets rank 7th in scoring (103.7 ppg) and the Lakers are right behind them ranking 8th (102.1 ppg). On defense the Lakers rank 13th in points allowed (98.8 ppg) and the Rockets only rank 20th (101.3 ppg). The Lakers have a rebounding differential of -0.6 rpg and the Rockets are at -3.8 rpg.

This season the Rockets are not a solid team on the boards and tonight they have to body up on Andrew Bynum (20.7 ppg 11.9 rpg), who has played great since missing a couple of games with an elbow injury. The Rockets do not have a lot of size in the interior and they can’t let Bynum and Lamar Odom (9.1 rpg) dominate the glass.

Kobe will get his points, as he leads the NBA in scoring this season (31.4 ppg), but the Rockets need to keep the other Lakers from scoring, especially Bynum Odom, and Artest.

If the Lakers are shooting well from the outside the Rockets will be in trouble, as they will have to come up and play perimeter D, which will open up the lane for the Lakers big men. Bynum is a 7-footer and Odom is 6’10” and no Rockets starter is over 6’9″.

Louis Scola (15 ppg 9.7 rpg) has to have a good game on both ends of the floor and put a body on the big men of the Lakers. At least the Rockets do not have to worry about the other Lakers’ 7-footer Pau Gasol, who is still out with a hamstring injury.

If Kobe and the Lakers can keep Aaron Brooks (16.7 ppg) and Ariza (19.4 ppg) from scoring they will be in good shape since the Rockets frontcourt trio of Scola, Shane Battier, and Chuck Hayes only average a combined 31.5 ppg.

Neither team is shooting the long ball well, as the Lakers have a 3-pt FG% of 37.3% and the Rockets are at 36%.

The main key for the Rockets is their inside play tonight, as if they let the Lakers’ bigs have a big game they have no chance to win this game.

Jason’s Pick: Even though the Lakers were smoked in their last outing they do match up well with the Rockets. No matter how Kobe plays Bynum should have a field day inside with the lack of size the Rockets have. Even though the Lakers are not a good team ATS this season they will come out on fire after their embarrassing loss on Friday. The Lakers will win this game easily and cover the spread.