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Lakers vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: LA Should Roll Behind Star Talent

Lakers vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: LA Should Roll Behind Star Talent article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets meet for a second consecutive game on Tuesday.
  • The Lakers won easily in the teams' first matchup and are 5.5-point favorites in this matchup.
  • Brandon Anderson previews Tuesday's game and shares his betting pick below.

Lakers vs. Rockets Odds

Lakers Odds -5.5 [BET NOW]
Rockets Odds +5.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -225 / +185 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 222.5 [BET NOW]
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday morning and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

After a busy Monday of news and game cancellations, the NBA beat goes on. The Los Angeles Lakers are back in action with a Tuesday night NBA TV matchup in Houston for a second straight matchup with the Rockets.

L.A. blew the first game open with a 40-point second quarter and coasted to an easy win behind 27 points from Anthony Davis and a cold shooting night from Houston.

So here we are again, two days later. Is there any reason to expect something different this time around?

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Los Angeles Lakers

We should know these Lakers quite well by now.

They are the defending champions, and they are defending with aplomb. The Lakers sit at 8-3, atop the NBA standings even with James yet to hit even a moderate gear. He and Anthony Davis have shown the ability to coast through three quarters and turn on the engine late to grind out wins this season.

This season, the Lakers beat the Spurs by six, swept a Grizzlies doubleheader by 14 and two and beat the Bulls by two, with a Spurs loss in there along the way. That’s not even a particularly difficult slate and while it hasn’t always been pretty, the Lakers are simply get the “W” and move on to the next game.

L.A. is 5-1 outright in 2021, even if it is only 2-4 against the spread in that stretch.

The Lakers are so tough defensively that the team’s floor is still high even if the shots aren’t falling, or if James or Davis isn’t playing at a high level. The Lakers enter play on Tuesday night ranked No. 3 in Defensive Efficiency and third in defensive Effective Field Goal percentage.

They dominate the glass, make life tough on the opposing offense and suffocate the opponent.

That’s what happened two nights ago to the Rockets, and it’s what happened to the Rockets in four straight games last season in the playoffs a few months ago once the Lakers locked in.

Right now, Houston doesn’t have an answer for the Lakers. No one in the NBA does either, it appears.

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Houston Rockets

The Rockets shot 12-of-41 behind the arc on Sunday night. If you take that many 3-pointers and hit only 29% against a team that isn’t giving up other easy looks and is rebounding most of the misses, you’re almost certainly going to lose.

The Rockets are not a good rebounding team but hung tough on the glass, losing the battle by just six boards. The Rockets also neared their season average on free throw assists with 23, despite the Lakers being a team that doesn’t foul much. They hit 25-of-49 shots from inside the arc, a respectable 51%, though a far cry from their league-leading 58% mark there.

This is not quite a Mike D’Antoni team, but it’s still James Harden’s. The Rockets no longer lead the league in 3-point attempts but are still in the top 10, although they rank in the bottom quarter of the league with their 34% shooting from deep.

Harden is doing his thing and P.J. Tucker is shooting 54% from beyond the arc for now, but all of the other key Rockets are missing a lot of 3-pointers right now, including John Wall (33%) and Christian Wood at (25%).

Harden has also been more muted of late. He’s scored 21 or fewer points in four straight games and hasn’t taken more than 17 shots in any of those. His usage is below 30% for the first time since 2014.

Wall and Wood are taking some of the scoring load off of Harden, but they’re replacing Harden shots with worse shots and the team is suffering. Yet again, we haven’t found the right configuration for a Harden team. The growing pains are real, and who knows how much of this is just Harden trying to pout his way out of town?

The Rockets remain dangerous because of Harden and the 3-point shooting, but the Lakers seem to have figured this team out.

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Lakers-Rockets Pick

I previewed this game two nights ago and called for a Lakers win and cover, and the game played out very much as I expected. L.A. won the rebounding battle and limited easy shots from Rockets inside the arc and at the line. That Houston shot so poorly behind the arc only helped the Lakers pull away early.

This game opened at Lakers -3.5 at some books, right where it closed on Sunday night, but it has quickly risen to -5.5 and will probably end up even higher by tip as long as both teams’ key players are active.

Both teams had a night off without travel, but the Lakers are playing the first of a back-to-back set, so there’s always the threat of LeBron James or Anthony Davis sitting out. Then again, this one’s on national TV and Wednesday night’s game is in Oklahoma City.

I’m confident the Lakers will win — if they want to and if the stars play. Unfortunately, we have no way to answer either of those ifs right now.

Between their recent grinding out of victories, the possibility of James or Davis sitting and the chance that Houston simply hits a barrage of 3-pointers, I’m not sure there’s much value in a Lakers cover here. And the moneyline isn’t worth the juice.

I might look to fade Harden by taking the under on his points prop here. At 17.8 points per game over his past four games, this isn’t just cold shooting. Harden’s 14.5 field goal attempts per game over that span are a full 10 fewer than he was getting up two seasons ago and his usage is below 30% for the first time in six seasons.

I will consider Harden under 30.5 points and otherwise look to bet L.A. live if I can get something closer to even odds or even that -3.5 opener. I’m confident in the Lakers’ ability to find a win late and an early Houston lead doesn’t deter me because I know the shots will eventually go cold.

The Lakers keep grinding out wins. We may have to grind this one out too.

Pick: Live bet Lakers at -3.5 or better if James/Davis play

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