The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips as LA Lakers look to chalk up back-to-back victories in Houston.
12:00 (AEDT), Wed 13th Jan @ Toyota Center, Houston
History: Played 264: Lakers 163 V Rockets 101
Last meeting: January 11, 2021: Lakers 120 d Rockets 102 at Toyota Center
Final Thoughts: After an explosive encounter on Monday (AEDT), Western Conference rivals Houston Rockets and LA Lakers square off again at Toyota Center.
The Lakers’ 120-102 victory was somewhat overshadowed by the ejection of rival big men Markieff Morris and DeMarcus Cousins.
But it was otherwise a comfortable win for the defending champs, who powered out to a 19-point halftime lead. Anthony Davis top-scored with 27 points, while LeBron James had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Bench production was a key feature for the Lakers, with Montrezl Harrell (16 pts, 8 reb) and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker (17 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast) both prominent.
Christian Wood continues to settle into the Rockets’ big-man role, leading his team with 23 points. Superstar back-court pairing John Wall (14 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) and James Harden (20 pts, 6 reb, 9 ast) were both well-contained by the Laker defence. Harden’s future in Houston and trade speculation keep gobbling up more column inches than the Rockets’ on-court fortunes.
The Rockets are hovering near the bottom of the West with a 3-5 record. A 42-point drubbing of the Magic led by Wood (22 pts, 15 reb) was Houston’s only success from their last four games.
The 8-3 Lakers lead the conference after winning five of their last six games. But the runaway win over the Rockets ended a run of tight victories – the Lakers are just 5-6 against the start this season. They also have a 3-8 under record so far; the Rockets are 3-5 ATS and have a 3-4-1 under record.
Post-season clash alters rivalry trajectory
The Rockets have won 19 of their last 25 regular-season encounters with the Lakers. But LeBron and co. have emphatically taken control of the rivalry courtesy of their 4-1 Western Conference Semi-finals triumph in September.
Expect the Rockets – particularly Harden, who averages 26 points this season – to be better against the Lakers this time around. But LeBron and AD also have another couple of gears to go to, and the visitors look great value to cover a modest line in this one.
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