Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 207.5)
Dwight Howard is back in the Staples Center, only it will be the Clippers he faces in his first visit back to Los Angeles since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers for Houston. Howard leads the Rockets into Monday’s game against the Clippers and he is averaging 15 points and 17 rebounds as Houston won its first three games. Point guard Chris Paul recorded three consecutive double-doubles while helping Los Angeles to a 2-1 start.
With Howard teamed with 7-footer Omer Asik in the Rockets’ starting lineup, the Clippers duo of center DeAndre Jordan and power forward Blake Griffin will have their work cut out for them. “They’re really big and there’s nothing much more than that,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “They’re big and dominant. They dominate on the glass right now.” Griffin has put together consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound games and Jordan typically gets up for the battle with Howard, a close friend of his. Rockets guard James Harden tweaked his ankle in Saturday’s victory over Utah but says he will play.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN Houston, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), NBATV
LINE: Los Angeles opened as a 5-point home favorite and is as big as -5.5. The total jumped from 206.5 to 207.5.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (3-0, 2-0-1 ATS): Two significant things happened in the 104-93 victory over Utah – Houston rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to win by double digits in the second game of a back-to-back and forward Chandler Parsons displayed last season’s form. Parsons averaged 9.5 points on 7-of-19 shooting over the first two games before contributing 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against the Jazz. “I was struggling the first two games, especially with my shot,” said Parsons, who was 8-of-14 against Utah. “And then in his one, the other guys were struggling and I finally had it going.”
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (2-1, 2-1 ATS): Los Angeles played away from the Staples Center for the first time on Saturday when it defeated the Sacramento Kings. Rivers was pleased with the poise the team displayed in the rabid atmosphere in Sacramento. “We’re going to get them all year. I went through this once,” Rivers said afterwards. “I’m telling you, when people think you’ve got a shot at (a title), everybody wants to knock you off. That’s just the way it’s going to be. At the end of the day, that will be good for us.”
* Under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings in Los Angeles.
* Rockets are 15-4 ATS in the last 19 meetings in Los Angeles.
* Under is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
1. Houston won last season’s third and final meeting to snap a five-game skid against the Clippers.
2. Clippers G Jamal Crawford (1,544) is three 3-pointers away from passing Eddie Jones (1,546 from 1994-2008) and moving into 15th on the all-time list.
3. F Omri Casspi (ankle) sat out against Utah but is expected to play against the Clippers.