LA Lakers Host Houston Rockets in Key Western Conference Match-up

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Friday, April 6, 2012, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: NBA TV
Opening Line: Los Angeles -7
Current Line: Los Angeles -5 1/2
Opening Total: 194
Current Total: 195 1/2
Opening Money Line: Lakers -260 / Rockets +220
Current Money Line: Lakers -240 / Rockets +200

Lakers Nuggets NBA Game Preview
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers host the Rockets Friday night. The Lakers are 5 1/2 point favorites.

The 35-20 Los Angeles Lakers, coached by Mike Brown are in first place in the Pacific Division and are the #3 seed in the West currently. The Lakers are 4 games behind San Antonio for the #2 seed. Despite clashes between Brown and Center Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have won 4 straight games including a win over the rival Clippers Wednesday night 113-108. The win expanded the Lakers’ lead over the Clips for the division to 2 full games.

Next up for the Lakers is a home game against the 29-25 Houston Rockets. It is the sixth straight game at the Staples Center for the Lakers, but Wednesday’s game was considered a road game on the Clipper’s home court. The Rockets, coached by Kevin McHale, are tied with Denver for the #7 seed in the Western Conference. Both teams are a game ahead of Phoenix and a game and a half ahead of Utah. The Rockets won at Chicago (playing without Derrick Rose) Monday night 99-93.

The Lakers and Rockets have split the season series so fat this year with each winning on their own court. The Lakers won at home January 3 108-99, and the Rockets won 107-104 in Houston March 20. This is the last scheduled meeting between the teams, although it is possible they could meet in the playoffs.

Houston is outscoring opponents 98.1-97.5 this season. The Rockets are 9th in points scored in the league. Houston is shooting 45.3% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Rockets make 78.5% of their free throws. Houston is #3 in free throw shooting in the league. Houston averages 42.1 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +0.9. The Rockets average 21 assists, 14.7 turnovers, 7.3 steals and  4.9 blocks a game. Houston opponents are shooting 45.5% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. The Rockets force 14.6 turnovers a game.

Forward Kevin Martin is the leading scorer for the Rockets averaging 17.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a game. He has missed 12 games in a row. He is day-to day with a shoulder injury, but he is not expected to play tonight. Point guard Kyle Lowry averages 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. He leads the Rockets in assists and steals. He hasn’t played since March 8 with a bacterial infection, and hopes to play before the end of the season. Forward Luis Scola averages 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. Courtney Lee averages 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Point guard Goran Dragic has played well in Lowry’s absence averaging 10.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, and Marcus Camby also get significant minutes. Dalembert leads the Rockets in blocks with 1.8 a game, and Camby leads the Rockets in rebounds with 8.8 a game.

The Lakers are outscoring opponents 97-94 this season. LA is shooting 45.7% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. The Lakers are #5 in field goal percentage. LA makes 75.7% of their free throws. The Lakers are #2 in rebounding averaging 45.7 a game with a rebounding margin of +4.6. Los Angeles averages 22 assists, 15.2 turnovers, 5.9 steals, and 5.4 blocks a game. Laker opponents are shooting 42.9% from the field and 32.5% from 3 point range. The Lakers are #5 in both categories. LA forces 11.4 turnovers a game.

Guard Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring averaging 28.1 points, along with 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.2 steals a game to lead the team. Center Andrew Bynum averages 18.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2 blocks a game. He leads the Lakers in rebounds and blocks. Forward Pau Gasol averages 17 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks a game. Newly acquired point guard Ramon Sessions (traded from Cleveland last month) averages 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists to lead the team. Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace, and Steve Blake also get significant minutes. Guard Christian Eyenga is out indefinitely with a toe injury.

LA is 23-32 ATS and the total is 30-24-1 this season. Houston is 28-26 ATS and the total is 25-29 this season. The home team is 9-4 ATS in this series and the last 6 have gone over the total. The Rockets are 4-1 ATS against Pacific division teams,  3-7 as a road underdog, 2-6 on three days rest, 3-9 in road games, and 1-4 after a cover. The Lakers are 17-39 ATS at home against teams with losing road records, 3-8 in Friday games, 7-20 as a favorite, 6-18 on 1 day rest, 1-6 after a cover, and against Western Conference teams, 1-7 after a straight up win, and overall, 1-10 at home, and as a favorite of 5-10.5 points, 0-4 after scoring and allowing 100 points, and 0-9 as a home favorite, including 0-7 as a favorite of 5-10.5 points.

Although the Lakers are hot right now having won 4 straight this seems like a let down game after beating the Clippers on Wednesday night, and they are going on a 3 game road trip after this game. Houston is playing well despite not having their two best players Martin and Lowry. Houston rookie Chandler Parsons bothered Kobe on defense with his length the last time the two teams met, and could do the same in the game. Houston pulls off the upset.

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