LeBron Makes Lakers Home Debut Saturday vs. Already-Shaky Rockets

Friday, October 19, 2018 12:39 PM UTC

Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 12:39 PM UTC

It should be quite an environment at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night as LeBron James makes his home Laker regular-season debut vs. Houston on ESPN.

Houston (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at LA Lakers (0-1, 0-1 ATS)Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Free NBA Pick: OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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I think it’s fair to say that tickets are in high demand and there will be celebrities galore in attendance at Staples Center in L.A. on Saturday night when LeBron James makes his Lakers home regular-season debut against the visiting Houston Rockets – a pretty star-studded team itself.

The LeBron effect already is being felt in L.A. as ticket prices for this season at Staples Center for Lakers games are up more than 450 percent over last year, according to StubHub. The average ticket price for this one is around $1,000. That’s the highest for the entire season of any game – No. 2 is Lakers at Warriors on Christmas Day.

LeBron debuted in Purple & Gold on Thursday night in Portland and had a few thunderous dunks among his 26 points (and 12 rebounds), but L.A. lost 128-119. Three-point shooting was one glaring weakness on this team entering the season and that was clearly on display. L.A. was 0-for-12 from deep in the first half and finished 7-for-30. James and Brandon Ingram were each 0-for-4. Kyle Kuzma 1-for-7. He and Lonzo Ball both came off the bench. LeBron, Ingram, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee started. Caldwell-Pope was awful, while Josh Hart had 20 points off the bench. Perhaps Coach Luke Walton switches those two.

L.A. has lost six of its past seven at home vs. the Rockets.

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👀 the TOP PLAYS from LeBron James' (26 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST) @Lakers debut. #LakeShow #KiaTipOff18 pic.twitter.com/vETGfLaUDZ

— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2018
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Should Rockets Fans Be Worried?

Houston might have won the NBA championship last season had Chris Paul not gotten hurt in in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against Golden State. Paul missed the final two games and the Rockets blew a 3-2 lead. Houston lost two key defensive/glue guys this offseason in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, while adding Carmelo Anthony. (Rockets wanted LeBron but never got a meeting.)

The worry was that the Rockets were going to take a nosedive defensively – they ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency a season ago -- and that Anthony already was washed up and wouldn’t be happy coming off the bench. Well, it’s just one game but Houston looked awful Wednesday in a 131-112 home loss to Anthony Davis and the Pelicans – that margin surpassed any loss by the Rockets last regular season. The 131 points allowed were more than Houston gave up in any regulation game in 2017-18 and the 76 points in the paint were also the most.

Anthony was nothing short of terrible, going 3-10 in his new reserve role for nine points and a rating of minus-20. It was just the sixth time in Melo’s career he had a game of fewer than 10 points and a rating of minus-20 or worse. Anthony had started the first 1,054 games of his career, and only Patrick Ewing (1,118 games) had more consecutive starts to begin an NBA career since 1970-71, when starters were first tracked.

James Harden also struggled, shooting 6-for-15 for 18 points and a team-worst rating of minus-23. Keep in mind that Houston was 42-3 last year in games that Harden, Paul and Clint Capela played together and outscored opponents by 11.5 ppg.

  • Over is 16-7 in Rockets last 23 games following a double-digit loss at home.
  • Over is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.

I expect Houston to play much better, but the Lakers as a whole will be quite fired up along with the crowd. Thus, I’m a bit torn on the side, but you are going to want to bet ‘over’ on many Houston games this season and that’s the Saturday NBA pick.

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