Expert Cappers Picks
National Basketball Association
Preview
Houston at L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 21, 2019
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

James Harden aims to resume his high-scoring ways when the Houston Rockets visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Harden scored at least 30 points in each of the last 31 games to tie Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for the second longest such streak in NBA history.

The Rockets are 21-10 since Harden became a one-man band and the star guard indicated he wouldn't mind a return to normalcy. "The scoring streak is obviously amazing, but it's something that I just had to do because of our situation," Harden told ESPN. "We had all the injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and things like that. So I think the streak just started happening, and now it's like something to talk about." The Lakers lost 10 of their final 15 games before the All-Star break and are hoping a fully healthy LeBron James can help improve the fortunes. "That's the job, that's our goal," James said of ending the franchise's five-season playoff drought. "It's been our goal from the beginning of the season and it's still our goal. We're working our tails off to get there."

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (33-24): Starting center Clint Capela (thumb) is expected back in the lineup after missing the last 15 games. Houston badly missed the big man, who is averaging 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds, even though the club added power forward Kenneth Faried, who has eight double-doubles in the past 10 games. "It felt great," Capela told reporters about the thumb after the team's practice at USC. "I was really happy about it, so now I'm ready to go."

ABOUT THE LAKERS (28-29): James has been part of the playoffs for the past 13 seasons and he doesn't intend to miss out during his first season in Los Angeles. The Lakers will rely on the 34-year-old even more than they have been as coach Luke Walton attempts to find the proper balance to keep fresh James. "We know we have who we view as the best player in the world on our team, but we also know that it takes a team to win," Walton told reporters. "So we expect him to lead us and we expect the other guys on the team to continue to make plays and help us win games. This league is too tough to do it by yourself."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Rockets are 3-0 against the Lakers this season and have won 21 of the past 27 meetings.

2. Los Angeles C Tyson Chandler (neck) is questionable while G Josh Hart (knee) and PF Mike Muscala (ankle) are probable.

3. Houston G Iman Shumpert (knee) has been ruled out of the next two games.

PREDICTION: Rockets 125, Lakers 123
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Houston 33-24 L1 20-9 13-15 1-1 32-23 7-5 21-16
L.A. Lakers 28-29 L2 16-12 12-17 2-4 26-25 7-4 19-18
Last Meeting
Houston L.A. Lakers
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
1/19/19 LAL 134 HOU 138 138 39 42.0 134 56 52.1
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Houston J. Harden 48 46.7 12
L.A. Lakers K. Kuzma 32 63.2 4
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Houston P. Tucker 9 4 5
L.A. Lakers J. McGee 14 3 11
Assists Player  
Houston J. Harden 6
L.A. Lakers L. Ball 11
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Houston J. Harden 2057 44.0 563
L.A. Lakers K. Kuzma 1109 46.3 162
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Houston C. Capela 553 218 335
L.A. Lakers J. McGee 381 123 258
Assists Player  
Houston J. Harden 448
L.A. Lakers L. James 313
Quickchart Matchup
Houston Houston Off vs  L.A. Lakers L.A. Lakers Defense
Houston Off vs L.A. Lakers - Points For 113.1 Points For
Houston Off vs L.A. Lakers - Points Against 113.4 Points Against
Houston - FG% 44.6 FG%
L.A. Lakers - FG% 44.8 FG%
Houston - Reb 41.6 Reb
L.A. Lakers - Reb 46.8 Reb
L.A. Lakers L.A. Lakers Off vs  Houston Houston Defense
L.A. Lakers Off vs Houston - Points For 112.2 Points For
L.A. Lakers Off vs Houston - Points Against 111.1 Points Against
L.A. Lakers - FG% 47.3 FG%
Houston - FG% 47.6 FG%
L.A. Lakers - Reb 47.0 Reb
Houston - Reb 44.7 Reb