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Houston Rockets vs. L.A. Lakers Wednesday NBA Preview & Free Pick

Rockets vs Lakers NBA Handicapping

Is Wednesday, April 17 the day that Dwight Howard finally grows up?

Houston Rockets (45-36) at Los Angeles Lakers (44-37)
Wednesday, April 17
Staples Center, Los Angeles
10:30 p.m. EST
Spread – Lakers -2.5
O/U – 203.5

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The Lakers’ man-child center now has what he has always craved – the spotlight — as LA plays what could be the most important game of the season tonight at home against the Houston Rockets.

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If the Jazz lose earlier in the night in Memphis, a season of turmoil and injuries will end in Los Angeles grabbing one of the final two playoff spots. And a Jazz loss and Laker win over the Rockets moves the Lakers all the way up to the seventh seed. Heady stuff for an aging team that fired its coach early in the season and had Kobe Bryant go down for the season in Game 78.

Howard is no doubt rooting for a Jazz loss tonight, which will take a ton of pressure off his shoulders. But getting LA to the playoffs will only delay the inevitable, and that spotlight will be even brighter if/when LA takes on either Oklahoma City or San Antonio in Round 1 in a series that would start this weekend.

And if things weren’t difficult enough, the Lakers will go tonight without PG Steve Nash, who is dealing with dueling injuries to his hip and hamstrings.

It will be the eighth straight game that Nash has missed, and doctors are hoping that rest and an injection of something or other will get him in good enough shape for the start of the playoffs – assuming they make it. [ad-6571516]

Houston should be able to take things easy and rest up for the playoffs, but the Rockets find themselves in a rather awkward position after deciding to play absolutely no defense and giving up 119 points to the Suns on Monday night.

Houston has lost 3 of its last 5, and right now the No. 1 goal for coach Kevin McHale is just to play four decent quarters of basketball before facing the music (OKC or San Antonio) in the first round of the playoffs.

Job One for the Rockets is getting James Harden going. Houston’s leading scorer laid a 5-for-18 egg in the loss to the Suns, and that came only a few days after a 7-for-24 stinker in a loss to the Grizzlies.

If Harden shoots like that in the playoffs, well . . . you know.

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Tonight could be the night that the NBA record for most free throws attempted in a regular-season game (Wilt Chamberlain, 34 in 1962) is broken. Houston has absolutely no reason not to send Howard to the line, especially if the Lakers get it going early and take a lead into the fourth quarter.

Lakers have four wins in a row, but it ends tonight. Rockets win, and win decisively if Utah loses in the earlier game and LA has less incentive.

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About Lawrence Paul

Lawrence Paul is back in the saddle as a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. He's got an AMAZING knack for predicting when a team will have a letdown! Stick with our resident gambling experts sports betting tips all season long!


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