The Los Angeles Lakers no longer have a stranglehold on the Western Conference. The Lakers have only won six of their last 10 games, allowing the crosstown Clippers and other contenders a chance to close the gap. The Lakers now have a three-game lead in their quest to earn the No. 1 seed and home court advantage through the Western Conference Playoffs, so they will be looking to grow that lead in the final third of the season. They will host the Houston Rockets in the second game of a doubleheader on TNT this Thursday night, and the Lakers are expected to be sizable favorites per the NBA betting odds.
This game will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET on February 6, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on TNT.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
LA won the first meeting between these teams a little over two weeks ago, going on the road to beat the Rockets 124-115. LeBron James was the star of the game, taking over and looking like the LeBron of old while Anthony Davis sat out with a lower back injury. James went 13 of 25 from the field to lead the Lakers with 31 points, and he also doled out 12 assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Danny Green all finished the game with at least 20 points too, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 69 points in a losing effort.
There are some major injury concerns for both the Rockets and the Lakers ahead of Thursday night. The Lakers might be without Davis once again after he injured his shoulder against the Kings on Saturday, and Alex Caruso is considered questionable due to a neck issue. DeMarcus Cousins is a long-term injury due to a major knee injury.
Houston won’t have Gerald Green for at least another two months, and Nene will miss another two weeks because of a hip injury. Russell Westbrook is a game time decision due to an injured thumb, while Austin Rivers should be healthy after an illness sidelined him over the weekend. Clint Capela could be held out or dealt right before the trade deadline, so there’s a decent chance he won’t be with the Rockets on Thursday.
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Harden is crushing the league in terms of PPG, but he is shooting at an absurd rate. He is taking 23.6 shots a game and 13 three-pointers a game, yet those numbers haven’t translated to more wins for Houston. That has led to ownership wanting to shake things up, and their downturn this season despite adding Russell Westbrook means that the Rockets could make some big changes at the trade deadline. Capela is the main player on the trading block, but anyone other than Harden and Westbrook could leave on Thursday afternoon.
When these teams met earlier this season, Westbrook and Harden took nearly half of Houston’s 90 shots. Westbrook shot well, going 15-23 from the field in the loss, while Harden got to the line 18 times. However, the two stars also combined to turn the ball over 11 times, and that’s something the Lakers will focus on Thursday. The Lakers have been very good on the defensive end thanks to James, Davis, and Avery Bradley, so don’t be surprised to see the Rockets turn the ball over 20 or more times.
I expect the Lakers to get the win here. Davis is expected to play on Thursday according to the latest reports, and his presence will make LA’s defense even better. Houston just doesn’t have the guns to compete unless Harden and/or Westbrook shoot the lights out.
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