Dwight Howard makes his return to Los Angeles tonight as the Houston Rockets open their post All Star Game schedule against the reeling Lakers. This evening's clash between the two Western Conference rivals is scheduled to get underway at 10:30pm ET at the STAPLES Center; the game will be broadcast live on ESPN. The latest NBA Betting Odds have Houston listed as a -8.5 against the spread road favorite and the Over/Under set at 214.5 points.

The Rockets were officially the hottest team in the league heading into last weekend's All Star Game as they had rattled off seven straight wins to draw within 2.5 games of Southwest leader San Antonio.

While Houston beat up on some poor to middling teams during its run (i.e. Cleveland, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Washington), it also took care of business against more formidable opposition. The Rockets, who are 10-2 in their last 12 games, beat the Spurs, Mavericks, and Suns as well.

The Lakers too earned a couple of February wins against league bottom feeders as they found their way past the Cavaliers and Sixers, but in no way is Los Angeles a hot team. In fact, it is the opposite, having lost 10 of its last 12 games to fall to 18-35 overall.

Following its back to back wins over Cleveland and Philadelphia, the Lakers dropped three straight home games, losing to the Bulls, Jazz, and Thunder by an average of nine points per contest.

However, L.A., which beat Houston 99-98 at the Toyota Center on November 7th, could receive some much needed help tonight in the form of Pau Gasol. Gasol, who leads the Lakers in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots, has missed the team's last six games with a groin strain. He is listed as questionable for this evening's game.

Notable Trends: The Rockets are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games as an away favorite coming off a home win in which they scored 113 or more points (courtesy of Dr. Meyer's SDQL).

NBA Betting Odds Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers:

Houston Rockets -8.5 (-110), Over 214.5 (-110), -400 (Moneyline)

Los Angeles Lakers +8.5 (-110), Under 214.5 (-110), +320 (Moneyline)

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