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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers - 11/7/13

Los Angeles Lakers (2-3) at Houston Rockets (4-1)

NBA Basketball: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm (Toyota Center)

The Line: Houston Rockets -13.5 -- Over/Under: 218 See the Latest Odds

TV:

Dwight Howard faces his old team for the first time as the Houston Rockets welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to town on Thursday night.

Head to head, the Lakers are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings and 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings in Houston while the home team and favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings. The Rockets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Western Conference and 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall, but just 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games vs. a team with a losing road record. The Lakers on the other hand are 17-35-1 ATS in their last 53 road games, 2-6 ATS in their last 8 vs. Western Conference and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers - 11/7/13

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With expectations at an all-time high, it’s been an encouraging start to the season for the Houston Rockets, who come into tonight’s showdown with a 4-1 record. As expected, James Harden and their prize offseason recruit in Dwight Howard have led the way in the early going as they have teamed up to give Houston one of the most talented duos in the NBA. Howard, who bolted from Los Angeles in the summer to join Harden and the Rockets, has put up slightly better numbers than last season through five games, however, Houston is rebounding at a much higher rate with Howard patrolling the middle. Harden, who averaged 25.9 points last season, has picked up where he left off with a 25.2 average in the first five games.

As far as the Los Angeles Lakers are concerned, it’s all about staying afloat until Kobe Bryant can make his much anticipated return to the hardwood. Through the first week and bit of action, the Lakers are currently sitting with a 2-3 record, however, their opening five games have all been against likely playoffs teams. Los Angeles hasn’t had any trouble scoring the ball without Bryant, yet it’s been on the defensive end where they have struggled as they giving up an average of 109 points per game, which is the second-worst mark in the league. The Lakers have also really struggled away from home, dropping games in Golden State and Dallas by a combined 50 points.

It’s pretty hard to fell confident about the Lakers tonight considering their two road games thus far have resulted in 31 and 19 points losses. While I’m sure they will be pumped up to go against Dwight tonight, a lot of these Lakers weren’t even on the squad last season. Meanwhile, Howard should have a little extra motivation himself. Houston's perimiter defense isn't great and the Lakers do have some good outside shooters, but I simply can't take them given their previous road results...

Dan’s Pick: Houston -13.5

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