7:00 p.m. ET – Houston (-2) at Charlotte O/U: 219½
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Houston Rockets||-2 (-106)||-130||O 219½ (-110)|
|Charlotte Hornets||+2 (-114)||+110||U 219½ (-110)|
The 11-11 Rockets travel to the Spectrum Center to take on the 11-13 Hornets in Charlotte on Monday night. Houston lost at home to San Antonio on Saturday, 111-106. Eric Gordon had 26 points for the Rockets on Saturday, but the explosive guard has been ruled out for Monday night’s matchup. With the Rockets entering a set of back-to-back games, Gordon will get the night off before likely returning for Houston’s game Tuesday night in New Orleans.
This is a big blow for Houston as Gordon averages 18.4 points per to go along with 28.6 minutes of playing time. He had scored 20 points or more in his last four games. Not only that, but Houston also will be without point guard John Wall (injury management) and leading rebounder Christian Wood (ankle injury), so the burden for most of the scoring with the Rockets’ first unit is likely to fall on the shoulders of Victor Oladipo and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins collected his fourth double-double of the season in his start on Saturday, and Oladipo is averaging better than 18 points per game in a Rockets’ uniform after coming over from the Indiana Pacers in the James Harden three-way trade less than a month ago.
Charlotte picked up a blowout win over Washington in a Sunday matinee, 119-97. The Hornets had six players score in double figures as the team shot 41 percent from 3-point range to bury the Wizards early and often. The Hornets are anchored by their big offseason acquisitions in veteran forward Gordon Hayward, who leads the team in scoring with 23.1 points and veteran guard Terry Rozier (18.7 points, second on the team). But Charlotte’s season is becoming more and more about rookie LaMelo Ball, who averages 13.8 points and six assists per game. Ball, the leading NBA Rookie of the Year candidate according to MyBookie and others, was inserted into the starting lineup three games ago because of a series of injuries to other Hornets and has flourished, averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field overall and 46 percent on threes in those starts.
This game is just as much about who is not playing as it is about those who will be stepping onto the hardwood Monday night. The Rockets will be without two of their most essential playmakers in Gordon and Wood, allowing the Hornets to shift their defensive focus to Houston’s limited remaining offensive weapons. Not to mention, Wood and Gordon are both above-average defenders, leaving Houston with a weak defensive group. Expect Charlotte to do what they did to another bad defensive team in Washington on Sunday, exploiting the Wizards throughout the game. Take the short home underdog Monday night to handle its business.