The Houston Rockets halted a four-game slide and look to record a signature victory when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. Houston ended its season-worst-matching skid with a 117-111 home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday while the Lakers are coming off a 104-102 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets from the same night.
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Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said "hopefully this is rock bottom" after Sunday's embarrassing 126-106 home loss to the Orlando Magic and his club bounced back strongly against the Timberwolves. "We got a little desperate and we played harder and we played with a little bit more purpose," D'Antoni told reporters after Tuesday's triumph. "And then we made big shots that we hadn't been making." The Lakers' loss against the Nets was just their second in the past 13 games and it ended with disappointment as power forward Anthony Davis missed a wide-open 3-pointer as time expired after receiving a pass from fellow All-Star LeBron James. "A lot of shots are going to be open with (James') ability to get in the paint and draw a defense," Davis told reporters. "It's our responsibility to finish plays."
TIME: 10:30 p.m. ET. TV: TNT, Sportsnet One
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (40-24): James Harden scored 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting - making 5-of-10 3-pointers - and fellow All-Star guard Russell Westbrook added 27 on 11-of-17 shooting as Houston rediscovered its form. "We've just got to get back to us," Harden said afterward. "Get back to our swag. Playing free, playing Rockets basketball on both ends of the floor." Westbrook scored at least 20 in each of his past 34 appearances while Harden tallied 30 or more in six of the last nine games.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (49-14): Los Angeles won four straight games prior to Tuesday's loss, including big games against the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks and the rival Los Angeles Clippers. The club didn't have the same intensity and spark against the Nets, who outperformed the Lakers most of the game and led by seven points entering the fourth quarter. "Obviously you don't want to follow up with a dud like this one, but they deserved to win," shooting guard Danny Green said after the loss.
1. The teams have split two matchups this season but the Rockets have won 18 of the past 23 meetings.
2. Los Angeles backup C Dwight Howard (illness) missed Tuesday's game and should be available versus the Rockets.
3. Houston backup SG Eric Gordon (knee) returned from a two-game absence and had 16 points on just 5-of-15 shooting versus Minnesota.
PREDICTION: Lakers 122, Rockets 116 Bet Now
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