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NBA Houston Rockets at L.A. Lakers

December 15, 2006

Houston Rockets at L.A. Lakers (-5 193) 10:30pm EST

In a scene right out of the movie "Groundhog Day", two Western Conference rivals meet again for the second time in four days, this time in Los Angeles.

Houston opened up a five game road trip with a gut-wrenching loss by two points at Golden State 109-107. Now it must face a Lakers team that had a day off to reflect upon a loss at Dallas in which they allowed 60 percent shooting.

Both teams are expected to be short-handed from a personnel standpoint, with Tracy McGrady suffering from back spasms and the Lakers Lamar Odom out with a sprained knee. The loss of each player for each team is significant coming into this contest.

For Los Angeles, this leaves a void trying to contend with the size and skill of Yao Ming in the paint area as neither Vladimir Radmanovic nor Kwame Brown have shown they have what it takes to slow Ming down inside. The offensive firepower that McGrady brings is sorely missed as opponents can turn their full attention to the big man in the Houston middle.

Even with McGrady Houston would surely be a road underdog, a role that suits them just fine with a 7-3 ATS record in most recent attempts. Where the luck has not been so good is against Pacific Division teams. The Rockets have not left the launching pad with 4-12 ATS mark.

Los Angeles has had quality success against the Southwest Division against the spread covering 5 of 7. The Lakers have now covered seven of eight and 8 of last 11 games played. With the Lakers 17-8 and just 13-12 ATS over the last ten years at home against Houston.

For all odds on tonight's busy pro basketball card, visit

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