Friday, November 30 at 8:00 PM ET
Two struggling teams try to get their seasons on the right track when the Houston Rockets visit the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. The Rockets have lost their last four games while the Spurs are just 2-4 in their last six games.
Let me just get this out of the way, Carmelo Anthony was not the problem, the Rockets thought he was the solution but this team lost defensive identity by not re-signing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and they still need another reliable scorer to help James Harden because they have to protect/rest Chris Paul for a playoff run.
Last Wednesday's 128-108 loss against the Mavericks was lopsided enough for the Rockets to pull their overworked starters with more than seven minutes left and it exposed their lack of depth, as their bench was outscored 65-25. Chris Paul (hamstring) and Gerald Green (ankle) missed the game and backup center Nene Hilario is still sidelined by a calf strain but Paul and Green will return against the Spurs.
The Rockets expected Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams to play key reserve roles but Anthony is no longer with the team and Carter-Williams has fallen out of the rotation. Houston is just 9-11, second to last in the Western Conference standings and four of their players have averaged more than 36 minutes during their current four-game losing streak, which includes two overtime games, so fatigue has played a significant role in their recent struggles and they need to lighten the loads of James Harden (42.3 minutes per game during the four-game losing streak), Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker.
The Spurs have lost nine of their last 13 games, including last Wednesday's 128-89 blowout setback against the Timberwolves. DeMar DeRozan has been spectacular for the Spurs, leading the team with 24.0 points, 6.0 assists and 0.9 steals but he hasn't had enough help. LaMarcus Aldridge was incredible last year but he's regressed this season, averaging just 17.7 points per game. Aldridge does lead the team with 10.8 rebounds per game but he's been inefficient.
The Houston Rockets are:
7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games against a team with a home winning percentage above .600
The San Antonio Spurs are:
1-4 ATS in their last five home games against a team with a losing road record
1-5 ATS in their last six games playing on 1 days rest
0-7 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a losing straight up record
0-4 ATS in their last four games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game
The Over is:
6-0 in Houston's last six overall
5-0-1 in San Antonio's last six overall
Houston will bring a fast paced, up-tempo offense, they're averaging 108.2 points per game and they've already taken 839 3-pointers this season. In fact, these two teams have pretty similar numbers:
Points per game Points against
Rockets 108.2 110.3
Spurs 108.6 110.9
There should be no shortage of offense in this game, the major question is, can the Spurs find some offense after DeMar DeRozan? LaMarcus Aldridge will be guarded by Clint Capela, so it will be hard for him to get back on track tonight. Having Chris Paul and Gerald Green back will help the Rockets and the Spurs can have a hard time keeping up with them.
NBA Picks: Rockets PK (-110) and Over 217 (-110) at Jazz Sports