Take Rockets over Lakers for your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 12:34 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 12:34 PM UTC

The Los Angeles Lakers have fallen, and they can’t get up. Will the Houston Rockets take advantage and pound the basketball lines Wednesday night?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 7 inclusive:

38-31-1 ATS

10-7 Totals

Those poor Los Angeles Lakers. They can’t even get tanking right. With half the roster injured and mired in a horrible 1-8 slump, Los Angeles (14-21 SU, 18-16-1 ATS) tried to engineer a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that would have sent Pau Gasol (17.7 PER) to the Cavs in exchange for the contract of former Laker Andrew Bynum. Not the player himself, just his contract. Bynum went instead to the Chicago Bulls and was immediately waived.

That’s okay – the Lakers are still losing with Gasol in the lineup, even though he’s starting to play a bit more like his old All-Star self. Gasol has 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in Tuesday’s 110-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks (–10 at home); next up are the Houston Rockets (22-13 SU, 17-16-2 ATS), who were idle on Tuesday. The NBA lines for this matchup were pending as we went to press.

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Lost Angels

It was actually a lot of fun to watch the Lakers earlier this year without Kobe Bryant. Their young reserves were playing well enough to keep the team around .500, and there was legitimate hope for the playoffs when Bryant returned from his torn Achilles. But then Kobe went down again, and so did Steve Blake (13.2 PER), and Jordan Farmar (15.1 PER), and Xavier Henry (12.9 PER). Let’s not forget Steve Nash, although it’s easy to these days. L.A. has now lost four of its last five games against the NBA spreads. Tank Time has arrived.

The Lakers might not have gotten rid of Gasol (yet), but they did unload swingman Shawne Williams (9.4 PER), who had his moments after coming over from China’s National Basketball League. Williams’ contract would have become guaranteed on Tuesday. He did a reasonable job on defense and hit a few 3-pointers here and there (32.7 percent), so Williams could wind up back with the Lakers on a 10-day contract.

Make sure to check out our:

NBA Picks: January NBA Betting Trends

Marshall Marshall Marshall

One player who’s contract will be guaranteed: PG Kendall Marshall (19.5 PER). The former North Carolina Tar Heel has been one of the lone bright spots on the Lakers since coming up from the D-League on Dec. 20. Marshall dropped off the radar screen after being selected 12th overall by the Phoenix Suns last year and posting a 7.8 PER in his rookie campaign; he was packaged with Marcin Gortat and shipped off to the Washington Wizards, who waived him three days later. Oh well. That’s three days more than Bynum got with Chicago.

We’ve only seen Marshall play seven games for the Lakers thus far, but holy doodle, he’s making the most of it. He dumped 20 points and 15 assists on the Utah Jazz last week, then another 17 assists on the Denver Nuggets. Marshall followed that up with 18 points against the Mavericks on 7-of-10 shooting, hitting three of his five trey attempts. If he keeps this up, imagine how good the Lakers might look next year with their young guns joined by a blue-chip recruit like Andrew Wiggins. Oh, and Kobe.

Meanwhile, down in Houston, the Rockets have dropped the cash in each of their last three games, including a too-close 102-100 victory over the New York Knicks (+11.5 away) on Friday. But at least they’re well rested. In fact, Houston has played just once in 2014. That’s very good news for Dwight Howard (21.6 PER) and his wonky back. And you just know that Howard would love to kick his former teammates while they’re down. Especially after they beat him 99-98 back in November, when the Lakers (+13.5 away) still had everyone but Bryant available. I’ll pick Houston in the dark here, thank you kindly.

NBA Pick: Take the Rockets

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