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Champion Plays
04-01-2004, 06:24 PM
10.30pm ET
Houston Rockets @ LA Lakers

The red-hot LA Lakers host the Houston Rockets tonight and we will recommend a play Under the posted total of 185 points.

The Under is hitting at an amazing 76% clip at Staples Center this season and with the Lakers new-found defensive focus we expect that trend to continue tonight.

The Lakers had played in four straight Unders before a 107-88 laugher against the shorthanded Hornets sailed Over the total. The teams combined for 113 first-half points before scoring just 82 points in the final two periods.

Following that game Karl Malone said that defense is the biggest difference now from early in the season.
"We've got four guys who start that made first-team all-defense," he said. "Gary was defensive player of the year, so we've got guys who definitely know how to do it."

Coach Phil Jackson is very excited that Shaquille O'Neal seems to have finally embraced the idea that he can be an imposing defensive force any night he wants to be.

The Rockets have gone Over in six straight games but overall this season they own the fourth-best defense in the league at 87.1 ppg . With two days rest going into tonight's game they have no excuse not to play some tough D and the Over/Under is 2-9 this season when the Rockets are revenging a home loss.

The last four games in this series have finished in the 186-189 point range but tonight we're expecting these teams to combine for around 180 points.

Recommended Play: Under 185

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