NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, December 29

NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, December 29

Rockets at Thunder: What Bettors Need To Know
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Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (-4.5, 207)

The Oklahoma City Thunder did not look quite as dynamic on offense in their first game without Russell Westbrook but leaned on Kevin Durant and got a win. Durant will try to carry his team to a third straight triumph when the Thunder host the Houston Rockets on Sunday. Westbrook is out until after the All-Star break following a third surgery on his right knee and Reggie Jackson struggled to 10 points on 4-of-19 shooting while starting in his place.

Without Westbrook around to break down defenses, Oklahoma City is determined to share the ball and win with defense. “It’s what we take pride in,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re a defensive team. We’re a team that can score, but we’re a defensive team. We take pride in every possession.” That defense will get a big test from the Rockets, who average 106.3 points and will be looking for some revenge after falling to Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (21-11): That six-game playoff loss prompted Houston to overhaul its roster with the addition of centerpiece Dwight Howard, who has proven to be a quick fit in the Rockets’ pick-and-roll offense. Howard collected 24 points and 18 rebounds in a 107-98 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday and has posted a double-double in 11 of the last 13 games. “I think we are just finding the right chemistry and guys are having the will to win and just doing the little things to help down the stretch, no matter how they are playing the rest of the quarter,” forward Terrence Jones said after a strong finish to Saturday’s triumph.

ABOUT THE THUNDER (24-5): Westbrook initially hurt the knee in that playoff series against Houston when he banged into Patrick Beverley while trying to call a timeout. Beverley, who is out with a broken hand, will not be around this time but Oklahoma City’s defense will still have to deal with Howard and James Harden. Durant went for 34 points, 12 rebounds and six assists without Westbrook on Friday and is determined to win without his running mate. “The only thing we can do to honor him is play as hard as we can every night and continue to trust and lean on each other,” Durant told reporters.

TRENDS:

* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Thunder are 5-0 ATS in their last five vs. Western Conference.
* Under is 5-1 in Rockets last six Sunday games.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. Oklahoma City took two of the three regular-season meetings in 2012-13, including a 120-98 triumph in its lone home game.

2. Durant’s 12 rebounds on Friday were his most since posting 13 against Golden State on Nov. 29.

3. Houston C Greg Smith (knee) missed his fourth straight game on Saturday and is day-to-day.

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