The Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets enjoyed plenty of success in November, but both have taken a step back in recent weeks, with L.A. losing three of five and the Rockets dropping their last two.
In a matchup we’ve already seen twice this season, the Lakers appear to have the upper hand in the NBA odds on Saturday. Will we continue to see the Lakers’ defense improve against a weak Rockets offense, or will Houston return to form on defense and snatch this one away on the road?
Let's dive right into it with our NBA picks and predictions for Rockets vs. Lakers on December 2.
Rockets vs Lakers odds
Rockets vs Lakers predictions
L.A. played that first game without Anthony Davis in the lineup, which was a big deal. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers rank first in the NBA when it comes to field goal percentage at the rim and take shots there at the seventh-highest clip in the NBA. Being down their best interior scorer the first time around was always going to make things difficult.
The Rockets can efficiently execute their offensive plays down low, spearheaded by Alperun Sengun. However, in doing so, they compromise their post defense, as reflected in their performance at the rim, which ranks just outside the bottom third of the NBA.
In the meantime, the Lakers' defensive performance has witnessed significant improvements in the last two weeks, and consistently throughout the year, they have surpassed the Rockets in rebounding. While Houston's three-point defense has been a strength, it has faltered during its recent two-game losing streak, providing an additional advantage to the Lakers.
Houston, like L.A., relies heavily upon its defense to win games, but without a clear path to stopping Davis and LeBron James in and around the restricted area, I don’t think the Rockets have a real chance to win this one.
I expect a big bounce-back performance from this Lakers defense against a weak Rockets offense, and I ultimately think they will exploit what’s been a generally solid defense this season.
My best bet: Lakers -5 (-108 at DraftKings)
Rockets vs Lakers same-game parlay
I don’t want to get overly cute with this same-game parlay. The Lakers should run into little resistance in the paint, and they should exercise some dominance on the glass as the better rebounding team entering this game.
Let's begin with LeBron, who scored 37 points in the previous matchup between these two teams. Since then, he has only surpassed 25 points on two occasions. While James has the potential for a high-scoring performance in a favorable matchup, I prefer not to take the risk and will instead opt for a safer alternative line. James has totaled 20 or more points in four of his last five games, allowing us to anticipate a scenario where Davis takes on the role of the primary scorer in the low post.
AD had 27 in that aforementioned meeting with the Rockets, and he’s the clear choice on this team when it comes to the guy to carry the scoring load. The Lakers big man has averaged 24.4 points over his last seven, hitting 25 points in five of those contests, and I expect him to torch Sengun and the Rockets once again here.
I’m a bit weary of Davis’ rebounding prop given the inflated price and number, so I’ll pivot to James here. He’s corralled six rebounds in six of his last seven contests, compiling exactly six boards in each of his two games against Houston.
In what could wind up being a close game, I expect James to pull down plenty of boards and get plenty of run.
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Rockets vs Lakers spread and Over/Under analysis
The Lakers and Rockets have hit the Under in both of their meetings, with closing totals of 221.5 and 222.5.
In a pace-up spot for the Rockets, it certainly makes sense that oddsmakers aren’t convinced every game between these two sides will be a rock fight, but that’s exactly what I’m expecting here.
The Rockets’ offense has improved over the last two games, posting an offensive rating of 118 or better in each, but Denver and Dallas aren’t anywhere close to the defensive stalwarts the Lakers are. The Lakers have similarly let their guards down defensively over what’s been a rocky five-game stretch, but I think matchups are to blame and this one should be a favorable one for them.
Keep in mind that the Rockets failed to do anything on offense last time out against the Lakers, despite 24 points from Dillon Brooks and an efficient night in the scoring department from Sengun. Should one of those guys take a backseat on Saturday, things are going to get murky for this offense.
We’ve seen both of these teams dominate defensively all year, so let's trust the larger sample size here and back another defensive battle between the two.
Rockets vs Lakers betting trend to know
The Lakers have hit the moneyline in 50 of their last 86 games (+17.65 Units / 11% ROI). Find more NBA betting trends for Rockets vs. Lakers.
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Rockets vs Lakers game info
|Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
|Saturday, December 2, 2023
|10:30 p.m. ET
|Space City Home Network, Spectrum
Rockets vs Lakers latest injuries
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