|NBA: LA Lakers at Houston Rockets Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007 04:54|
The Rockets look to win four straight against the Lakers for the first time in more than 12 years when the teams meet at the Toyota Center on Wednesday night in a rematch of their season opener.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Houston -7 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 199 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles +7 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Houston (6-2) began the season with a 95-93 win over Los Angeles (3-3) on Oct. 30 - its third straight win in the series - and went on to win its next two before suffering its first loss at Dallas on Nov 5. The Rockets had another three-game winning streak end with a 105-99 loss at Memphis on Tuesday night.
Houston will look to bounce back by trying to extend its winning streak against Los Angeles to four games for the first time since a six-game run from Jan. 18, 1993-March 24, 1994. Since then, the Rockets have won three in a row against the Lakers only three times.
Houston, though, will need to tighten its defense. The Rockets have given up more than 100 points only twice this season, and those lapses resulted in their only losses.
Before Memphis' 50.0 percent shooting performance Tuesday, Houston held each of its previous seven opponents to 46.8 percent or less. The Rockets had held each of their previous three opponents under 90 points.
On offense, meanwhile, Houston had one of its best games of the season, shooting better than 60 percent for much of the first quarter en route to a 53-49 lead at the half.
Tracy McGrady, who had 30 points in this season's first matchup with the Lakers, had 41 against the Grizzlies. He has scored 30 points in each of his last two games against Los Angeles, shooting 89.2 percent (25-for-28) from the free-throw line in those contests.
Rockets center Yao Ming, who is coming off 22-point effort, is averaging 31.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in his last five games against the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant had a season-high 45 points in the season opener, but also committed five turnovers. He is averaging 42.8 points in his last four games against Houston, including two 53-point efforts.
Bryant, though, was held to 18 points in a 107-92 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday - well below the 30.4 points he was averaging coming in.
The Lakers scored more than 100 points in each of their previous four games, averaging 112.3 during that span. Los Angeles is 1-2 when it fails to reach 100 points.
"We just have to take some lessons from here and use them ... in future games," Bryant said. "For a young team like this one, it's important to play teams like the Spurs and learn those lessons and then apply them."
The Lakers struggled Tuesday despite the return of Kwame Brown and having Lamar Odom back for the second straight game.
Brown had seven points in limited minutes after missing two straight games with bursitis in his right heel. Odom, meanwhile, had 12 points after scoring 18 against Minnesota on Friday night in his first game after sitting out the beginning of the season following shoulder surgery last spring.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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