Houston (33-24) at LA Lakers (28-29)
When: Thursday, February 21st, 2019
Where: Staples Center,
Los Angeles, California
Time: 10:35 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Houston -2.5/234.5
The Los Angeles Lakers have missed out on the postseason each of the last five seasons and in order to break that skid, they’ll have to make up three games in the standings over the next two months. That road begins with a tough home matchup against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, as both teams get their second-halves started. The Lakers were near the top of the West standings earlier this year before LeBron James went down with an injury, and the young Lakers team fell apart and have dropped down to No. 10 in the conference. Since James’ return, L.A. is just 2-3 in games he’s started, but all of those were on the road and included some tough competition. The Lakers return home for one game before heading back out on the road, where they are 12-17 on the season, as compared to 16-12 at Staples Center. James Harden has been leading the Rockets to a 21-10 record in the last 31 games, scoring 30 points or more in each of those and tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest such streak in NBA history. Houston is currently fifth in the West, one game behind Portland, but only three games clear of No. 9 Sacramento. The Rockets have won all three meetings with the Lakers so far this season and 21 of 27 overall matchups.
Harden has been on a scoring run out of necessity, because the Rockets have been missing some key players during parts of the first half. Starting center Clint Capela (thumb) has missed the last 15 games, but is expected back in the lineup Thursday and will bring his 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds back to the court. Power forward Kenneth Faried has helped in Capela’s absence with eight double-doubles in the past 10 games. Point guard Chris Paul missed a month but is back and healthy again as well. The Rockets will be in Golden State on Saturday to take on the Warriors.
James will probably have to carry much of the load by himself now that the trade deadline has come and gone without acquiring Anthony Davis from New Orleans, plus the Lakers are bit banged-up right now. Center Tyson Chandler (neck) is questionable for Thursday, while guard Josh Hart (knee) and PF Mike Muscala (ankle) are probable. Speaking of Davis, LeBron and company will be in New Orleans for a battle with the Pelicans on Saturday.
The Rockets have been doing just fine without Capela, but he is a huge part of this team and Houston is a Finals contender with him in the lineup. Look for the Rockets to get the second half started with a positive start and an easy win over the fading Lakers.
Pick: Rockets -2
Rockets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. NBA Pacific.
Rockets are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss.
Rockets are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
Rockets are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
Rockets are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
Rockets are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 road games.
Rockets are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record.
Rockets are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games.
Lakers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Western Conference.
Lakers are 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Lakers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
Over is 5-1 in Rockets last 6 vs. NBA Pacific.
Over is 5-1-1 in Rockets last 7 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
Over is 8-2 in Rockets last 10 vs. a team with a losing straight up record.
Over is 4-1 in Rockets last 5 road games.
Over is 4-1-1 in Rockets last 6 games following a ATS loss.
Under is 10-3 in Rockets last 13 Thursday games.
Under is 6-2 in Rockets last 8 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
Over is 3-1-1 in Rockets last 5 games following a straight up loss.
Over is 6-2-1 in Rockets last 9 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
Over is 6-2-1 in Rockets last 9 vs. Western Conference.
Over is 5-2-1 in Rockets last 8 overall.
Over is 5-2-1 in Rockets last 8 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
Over is 5-1 in Lakers last 6 Thursday games.
Over is 4-1 in Lakers last 5 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Under is 21-6 in Lakers last 27 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Under is 19-7 in Lakers last 26 games following a ATS loss.
Under is 17-7 in Lakers last 24 games following a straight up loss.
Over is 35-15-2 in Lakers last 52 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
Under is 34-16-1 in Lakers last 51 home games.
Rockets are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Los Angeles.
Favorite is 18-7 ATS in the last 25 meetings.
Over is 23-9 in the last 32 meetings.
Rockets are 14-6 ATS in the last 20 meetings.
Road team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.