James Harden vs. Kobe Bryant — Houston Rockets Travel to L.A. To Face LakersHouston at L.A. Lakers
Tip off: 9:30 PM EST, Sunday, Nov 18, 2012
Spread: LAL -7
M/L: LAL -310, HOU +260
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
Since beginning the season 1-4 under the coaching of Mike Brown, the Lakers have turned it around and won three of their last four, with the lone loss being a two point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.
Things have gone better under Bernie Bickerstaff’s headship, and the Lakers are beginning to look like the team many thought they would be going into this season.
Kobe Bryant still hasn’t slowed down and is posting a PER of 27.3. He’s averaging 26.9 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per contest. Newly acquired Dwight Howard is putting up 19.1 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, and blocking nearly 2.7 shots per night. Pau Gasol has disappointed and Steve Nash has been injured, but that’s only all the more reason why the Lakers can be even better.
They’ll host a 4-5 Rockets team that has been better than expected after obtaining James Harden for the small price of Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb.
The Rockets have a nice collection of underrated talent that ranges from Chandler Parsons (13.1 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game) to former Knicks star Jeremy Lin and the defensive minded Omer Asik (13.2 rebounds per game, 1.2 blocks per game).
Patrick Patterson (10.9 ppg) and Marcus Morris (10.3 ppg) have also been huge for the Rockets at power forward, in lieu of what Royce White has chosen to do with his rookie season (namely, not play).
The Rockets have dropped two of their last three and including tonight’s contest against the Lakers, their next four opponents are all teams that made the NBA Playoffs last year.
So, the time for the Rockets to step up is now, after losing to Portland on Friday night by two in overtime. Harden had 29 in that game, and the rest of the starting lineup contributed an additional 61 points, as the Rockets shot 46.6 percent from the floor but still lost.
The Rockets let the trio of Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge combine for 91 of the Blazers 119 points and Portland shot an even more impressive 51.2 percent from the floor. The Rockets simply have to play better defense, now that things are clicking offensively.