HOUS at LAL
Time: 10:30 PM ET
Spread: HOU -7.5
M/L: HOU -300; LAL +250
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The second of a TNT double-header features the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers aren’t widely touted this year, and even with a healthy Kobe Bryant in the fold still find itself 7.5 point underdogs to the Houston Rockets according to NBA oddsmakers.
Houston fell short in the 2014 NBA playoffs when the team encountered a hot LaMarcus Aldridge and a cold blooded Damian Lillard. So, there is that. But the Lakers didn’t even make the postseason, which led to L.A. selecting Julius Randle of Kentucky in the draft. Acquiring Carlos Boozer to mentor him seems to make some sense, but Randle is more aggressive, stronger, and a much different player than Booz has been in his NBA career.
The Rockets have a lot of firepower and rarely let up on the throttle, accounting for the high point total in NBA odds of 208. The Lakers will be starting Houston’s backup point guard from last year, Jeremy Lin. Losing Steve Nash for the season ensures that Lin will have every opportunity to show he has what he demonstrated during his stint as a New York Knick. If Kobe Bryant trusts Lin with the ball, the Harvard graduate could be in for a major breakout season.
Another story worth monitoring is the re-emergence of Dwight Howard. He’s back in top physical shape and assistant coach and mentor Hakeem Olajuwon said he expects an MVP season from the Rockets center. That, combined with an improved defensive effort from 2-guard James Harden, could help towards the internal improvement Houston must orchestrate to improve on a team that lost two key rotation players (Lin and Omer Asik) and one starter (Chandler Parsons).
It remains to be seen if Parsons can replicate his success in Houston, or more to the point, if he can grow from it and become a legitimate star. In the meantime, the Rockets will plug in Trevor Ariza at small forward, who is an upgrade defensively but lacks the explosion of Chandler Parsons.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey knows it is a lateral move this season, and Ariza comes at half the price tag of Parsons, but ultimately Morey did not feel the Florida product could be the third star needed to complement Howard and Harden. Ariza has some knowledge of the Lakers, too, as an important role player for the Lakers in the past. Expect Houston to handle business and possibly turn this into a double-digit win. NBA bettors will be wise to choose Houston at -7.5 in this affair.