After four torturous hoops-less months, the NBA is back! The daily preview breaks down Friday’s blockbuster between Houston Rockets and LA Lakers.

NBA Tips – Houston Rockets V Los Angeles Lakers

11:00 (AEST), Fri 7th Aug @ ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, Orlando

History: Played 257: Lakers 158 V Rockets 99

Last meeting: February 6, 2020: Rockets 121 d Lakers 111 at Staples Center

Final Thoughts: Two of the Western Conference’s big dogs lock horns in the standout fixture of a packed Friday (AEST) schedule. But the conference-leading LA Lakers and sixth-placed Rockets are both coming off losses.

It’s been an up-and-down start in Orlando for the 51-16 Lakers, who have the top seed locked up. They edged the Clippers first up, lost to the Raptors by 15, took care of the Jazz 116-108 and most recently were thumped 105-86 by the Thunder.

Anthony Davis posted just nine points against OKC, with LeBron James leading the Lakers in points (19) and rebounds (11). The Lakers are still adjusting to the absence of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo.

Rockets soar then fizzle

The 42-25 Rockets started well in the bubble, beating the Mavericks in OT with Russell Westbrook and James Harden combining for 80 points, 20 rebounds and 16 assists. Both were excellent again in a 120-116 upset of the powerhouse Bucks, but were held to a combined 38 points in a surprise 110-102 loss to the Blazers. Daniel House Jr did hit 6-of-12 threes, however.

The Rockets have won 18 of their last 23 against the Lakers. Five of the last six encounters produced 232-plus points.

The heavyweights split their two encounters earlier this season, both grabbing a win on the road. LeBron (31 pts, 12 ast) led the Lakers to a 124-115 victory in Houston with Davis sidelined. Westbrook went off for 41 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists at Staples Center, negating an AD triple double in a 121-111 Rockets win.

The Lakers are a remarkable 7-0 in the second leg of a back-to-back this season. The Rockets may struggle to match the Lakers in the interior, but their outside shooting, better form since the restart and an extra day’s rest make them a better bet.

Tip: Result – Rockets


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