Houston Rockets (38-18 SU, 28-25-3 ATS)
Houston has been rampaging over the opposition, winning 10 of their last 11 games and covering the NBA odds in eight of those contests. After getting derailed by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night they bounced right back with a narrow 115-112 road win over the Suns. While the usual suspects Dwight Howard and James Harden contributed mightily to the victory it was in fact second-year man Patrick Beverley who was clutch when it counted as he drained 12 fourth-quarter points and hit a trey with 34 seconds remaining to put the Rockets ahead for good. When the dust settled Beverley had a career-high 20 points and his team had a notch in the win column.
Houston had been averaging a sizzling 114 points in the seven games prior to the loss at Golden State. But they increased their 3rd ranked team scoring average of 106.1 PPG when they dropped 115 on the Suns. The Rockets are now in a dog fight for the third spot in the Western Conference with the Clippers and Trailblazers. James Harden hyperextended his elbow when he drained a season-high 39 points against Golden State but still managed 23 in Sunday’s win over the Suns.
Sacramento Kings (20-36 SU, 26-29-1 ATS)
The Kings have struggled mightily this season therefore their recent two-game winning streak has injected a little optimism in what has been a rather gloomy year. Saturday night they hosted the Boston Celtics and left the home crowd happy (but not those who backed them in their NBA picks) by pocketing a 105-98 victory but failed to cover the eight-point spread in NBA odds. The following evening they flew into Denver as 5 ½ point road dogs and wound up with a dominating 109-95 win over the Nuggets. On their home court the Kings are 12-17 both straight up and against the number.
The Kings are at their best, says point guard Isaiah Thomas, when they are in transition and attacking. However, it must also be noted that while Sacramento has done a decent job of putting the ball in the hole and pounding the glass, they are 29th in assists per game and 26th in points allowed. In other words they are firing at will and unable to contain the other team’s transition points. They will need to get back on defense if they are to have any chance of stopping the Rockets juggernaut.
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The Kings will have to continue their improved defensive play if they are to have any shot at upsetting Houston tonight. This season they are allowing over 103 points per game yet over the course of their last four games, where they have won three of those contests, the Kings have allowed 100 PPG with point guard Isaiah Thomas ripping it up to the tune of 52.6% shooting and averaging over 23 points per game over his last five.
This is the proverbial trap game for the Rockets. They will be looking ahead to their showdown at the Staples Center tomorrow night with the Clippers. They have lost two of three in the season series to the Kings with their last trip to Sacramento resulting in a 106-91 thrashing on December 15th. While some will quickly look at the last time these teams met and note that it was in fact the Rockets who manhandled the Kings 119-98 on January 22nd in Houston, it should be noted that Sacramento lost both Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins before the first-half was even over.
The Kings have a little mojo going for them right now while the Rockets are in the middle of a five-game road swing and looking ahead to Wednesday night. Houston is not a great defensive team and that will allow Sacramento to put enough points on the board to hang and bang with the Rockets tonight.
Play Sacramento +4 ½ in your NBA picks at Bet365.com.