The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans have been rejoicing since the return of LeBron James after he missed a significant number of games with a groin injury. However, since returning to the lineup on February 5th, the Lakers are just 1-3 and now sit three games behind the Clippers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. If they keep playing like this, they will definitely fall short of their projected season wins total.
James and company will have their hands full when they take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles. Houston has dominated the Lakers in recent years going 13-3 in their last 16 meetings and 9-1 in their last 10 visits to Los Angeles. Houston has already won all three meetings this year, although James missed the last one which was actually a close game. In the first meeting between these two teams, James notched 24 points while he improved to 29 points in the second game.
On the season, James is averaging 26.8 points per game. While he had a bit of a scoring outburst in back-to-back games against the Spurs in early December, James has eclipsed the 30-point plateau just once in 14 games since. Since returning to full duties, he has averaged 23 points per game while logging plenty of minutes. The question before us is this: How many points will he score against the Rockets? He had a good game, recording 33 points, in his first game against the Rockets last year, but he followed that up with a measly 11 points in the second meeting. Throw those stats out the window though because the circumstances were so different.
It’s not like James did nothing over the NBA All-Star Weekend but he didn’t log a ton of time. LA fans hope that this means that he got some rest and was able to recover from some long outings last week. Either way, he should be close to 100 percent and a pair of 28-point games in his last three is a good indication that he is. Add in the fact that this team is desperate for wins and they are playing on their home court and 26.5 points doesn’t seem overly lofty. With the trade deadline behind us, James knows that he will have to bring his A-game if the Lakers are going to at least make the playoffs. With a little luck, he will capitalize on his chances from the free throw line and make over bettors happy.
My Pick: Over 26.5 points
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