Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers (-7, 205.5)
Mike D'Antoni built his coaching reputation as an offensive guru. Offense definitely will be on display Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Houston Rockets. Not only is D'Antoni slated to debut as Los Angeles' new coach, but the NBA's two top scorers go head to head. The Lakers' Kobe Bryant (26.9) and the Rockets' James Harden (26.7) have the two highest offensive outputs in the league.
Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin burst onto the NBA scene and the national sports landscape last season in D'Antoni's free-wheeling offense when both were with the New York Knicks. Lin made no attempt to disguise D'Antoni's impact upon him, telling Houston reporters recently that the coach "changed my life." D'Antoni is expected to provide a similar spark while trying to help the Lakers do something no NBA team ever has accomplished - win a league title after starting a season with a 1-4 record.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CSN (Houston), TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles).
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (4-5): Houston fell apart in its most recent game, squandering a 16-point first-half lead and missing its last six shots from the field in a 119-117 overtime loss at Portland on Friday. Not the way the Rockets wanted to start a challenging three-game road trip that concludes with back-to-back games at Los Angeles and Utah. Harden has scored at least 20 points in four straight games, while Omer Asik has posted three consecutive double-doubles. Both streaks are personal bests.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (4-5): Who will be running D'Antoni's offense tonight? Veteran Steve Nash, a two-time MVP during D'Antoni's stint in Phoenix, is out at least another week with a stress fracture. Steve Blake is a game-time decision with an abdominal strain. Darius Morris has been starting at point guard while Blake is out, but Bryant actually has twice as many assists (14) as Morris (7) in the past two games.
* Over is 7-0 in the last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. NBA Southwest opponents.
* Rockets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven vs. NBA Pacific foes.
1. The Rockets are 2-2 under interim coach Kelvin Sampson, who's been filling in while Kevin McHale is on leave dealing with a family matter.
2. Houston rookie F Royce White is slated to meet with general manager Daryl Morey on Monday. White, who suffers from anxiety disorder, has not attended any Rockets games or practices for the past week nor met with his team-appointed therapist. Houston has fined him daily for the inexcused absences.
3. Lakers C Dwight Howard currently ranks among the top 10 in the league in rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage.