Rockets to Cover Large Number vs. Lakers: NBA Picks

Swinging Johnson

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 3:33 PM GMT

The Houston Rockets prepare to launch in LA after their brief All-Star break reprieve while the Lakers hope to begin a climb towards respectability but where is the value in our NBA picks in this Western Conference clash?

Houston Rockets (36-17 SU, 26-24-3 ATS)

The Rockets are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and should be able to add another notch in their holsters against the Lakers as long as they don’t experience a post All-Star break funk. Big man in the middle Dwight Howard will return to the Staples for the first time since he spurned the Lakers overtures at the end of last season and decided to pack his bags for greener pastures in Houston. Howard averaged 17.5 points and 11 boards in the team’s first two games against LA both held in Houston. In those games the Rockets split with the Lakers with the last meeting resulting in a 113-99 victory and a push in NBA odds for Houston.

Houston has won six of their last seven on the road and will begin a five-game road trip tonight. But without the herculean effort of James Harden in their last thrilling victory over the Wizards before the break, Houston would be looking to start a winning streak rather than continue it. Harden rained down 35 points on the night and it was his two that proved to be the game changer. With less than a second left to play, Harden connected on a layup that resulted in a 113-112 nail biting victory for the Rockets. 

Look at our NBA Picks of the Day article for a few of tonight's best plays.

LA Lakers (18-35 SU, 28-23-2 ATS)

The LA Lakers are currently mired in a three-game slump and the home cooking has done nothing to aid their cause. Los Angeles has lost seven consecutive home games and 13 of the last 15 at the Staples Center. The key to turning the tide might be a bit more attention to defense. Check that – a lot more attention to defense. The rank 29th in points allowed, surrendering 105.6 PPG and their latest defeat at the hands of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder was just another example. LA hung tough and did get the cover as 11 point underdogs in NBA odds but ultimately bowed 107-13.

This game may see some changes to the LA roster. They are definitely in the deal making mode as this season has slipped away. Pau Gasol has been mentioned as trade bait and a sudden announcement proclaiming him inactive for tonight’s contest as the trade deadline nears would not be a shocker. Point guard Kendall Marshall has also drawn interest from teams looking to add a player to take them over the top.

[gameodds]5/256053/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Free NBA Pick:

While I’m not a guy who normally subscribes to emotion being a key element to any contest, I will set aside my skepticism for this game. Dwight Howard will no doubt want to demonstrate to the Lakers and their crowd just what they lost when he turned his back on the team to rebuild around him. The big center will have huge impact on this game and I cannot see the Lakers, a team so porous on defense and ranked next to last in the NBA, stopping a freight train like Howard and company. 

The Rockets currently rank 3rd in the league and points scored and will have a huge advantage on the glass. The Lakers are lousy at home and the favorite is 5-1 ATS over the last six meetings between the clubs. Look for a blowout by the Rockets.

Free NBA Picks: Play the Rockets -8 ½ in your NBA picks at Bet365.com.