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Rockets favored big over Knicks on Friday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 1/3/2014  at  4:54:00 AM
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NEW YORK KNICKS (10-21)

at HOUSTON ROCKETS (21-13)

Tip-off: Friday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Houston -11.5, Total: 207

The Knicks look to pick up a second consecutive victory on their Texas road trip with a win over the Rockets on Friday night.

New York went into San Antonio Thursday night and came away with a 105-101 victory in a game with playoff-like intensity. Houston, on the other hand, lost to double-digit underdog Sacramento at home on Tuesday, 110-106. The Knicks and Rockets met earlier in the season on Nov. 14 when Houston pulled out the a 109-106 victory in Madison Square Garden behind 36 points and nine rebounds from SG James Harden. That marked the eighth straight win (SU and ATS) for the Rockets in this series, improving them to a dominant 16-1 SU (13-4 ATS) versus the Knicks since 2005. But not all is hopeless for New York, which is 8-7 ATS on the road this season, and 23-10 ATS (70%) when playing back-to-back nights under Mike Woodson. Houston also has a few betting trends in its favor, including a 21-9 ATS mark (70%) at home in non-conference games over the past three seasons, plus the Knicks' poor 4-12 ATS record (25%) as an underdog this season. New York PG Raymond Felton (hamstring) and SF Metta World Peace (knee) are still out, but SF Carmelo Anthony (ankle) is expected to play on Friday night. Houston remains without both C Omer Asik (thigh) and PG Patrick Beverley (hand).

Will the Knicks end their long losing skid to the Rockets? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 63% ATS (68-40-1) including 69% ATS (42-19-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 76% ATS mark (16-5-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 59% ATS (27-19-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 68% ATS (15-7) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 54% ATS (25-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 64% ATS (14-8) in Best Bets since Dec. 1, while StatFox Gary is 62% ATS (13-8) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 64% ATS (9-5).

The Knicks have really struggled on offense this season with 95.0 PPG (24th in NBA) and 20.3 APG (22nd in league). The defense has been decent though, allowing just 99.3 PPG (11th in NBA). SG Iman Shumpert (6.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG) scored a career-high 27 points (10-of-13 FG, 6-of-8 threes) with six boards and three steals to lead the Knicks to a victory over the Spurs on Thursday. SF Carmelo Anthony (26.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG) also scored 27 points after returning from an ankle sprain that caused him to miss three games. In the game against the Rockets on Nov. 14, Anthony poured in 45 points (17-of-30 FG) while also adding 10 rebounds and four assists. He was able to score on Chandler Parsons or Terrence Jones whenever he wanted to, and could hoist up another 30 shots on Friday. PF Andrea Bargnani (14.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG) played extremely well in that game with 24 points (9-of-12 FG) and four rebounds, while also holding Rockets big man Dwight Howard to just seven points on one field goal. Bargnani will get some help down low though, as the Knicks will have C Tyson Chandler (8.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG) in this meeting. Chandler will be the one to guard Howard now that Bargnani is back to playing power forward. He will also need to crash the boards for this rebounding-deficient New York club that has only 39.1 RPG this season (2nd-fewest in NBA). The Knicks will need to keep former teammate PG Jeremy Lin in check in this meeting, as Lin had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in just 30 minutes last time they met. PG Beno Udrih (6.3 PPG, 3.4 APG), who had 10 points and seven assists against the Spurs on Thursday, will have the task of shutting Lin down.

The Rockets love to get up and down the court, scoring 105.7 PPG (3rd in NBA), but they don't play too much defense, surrendering 102.5 PPG this season (25th in league). During their current two-game losing skid, they have given up 113.5 PPG on 53.3% FG. Fortunately for Houston, it will be facing a Knicks team that has struggled all season. The last time these teams met, SG James Harden (24.0 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG) scored 36 points (9-of-17 FG, 16-of-18 FT) while also grabbing nine rebounds. Harden was able to get into the lane at will and draw fouls whenever he wanted to. Knicks guards J.R Smith and Iman Shumpert could not keep up with Harden defensively, and it affected their shooting too, as that New York backcourt combined to shoot 5-of-21 from the floor that day. SF Chandler Parsons (17.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.7 APG) also took advantage of mismatches in the game as he poured in 22 points (7-of-11 FG, 6-of-6 FT). C Dwight Howard (17.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 1.8 BPG), who struggled offensively in the first meeting between these teams (1-for-5 FG), was still able to pull down 15 boards (six offensive) and block four shots. But he must step up his play for Houston, averaging just 12.0 PPG over the two-game losing skid, and his team will need him to play much better to get back into the win column.

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