James Harden in action for Houston Rockets
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Knicks @ Rockets: Harden to help Houston halt slide against New York

| 01.01.2014

Houston welcome New York to the Toyota Center looking to avoid their first three-game skid of the campaign and will be confident of doing just that.

Defeats to Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings leave Kevin McHale’s men facing a third straight loss for the third time this term but history suggests that the hosts will avoid a triple blow again this time round.

The Rockets (21-13) have won 16 of their last 17 meetings with the Knicks including eight consecutive home wins and with star men James Harden and Dwight Howard both in top form it’s easy to see why the Texans are priced as the overwhelming favourites here.

New York (10-21) have disappointed many this term after being billed as challengers at the start of the season but showed what they can do when Carmelo Anthony is at his best in beating the San Antonio Spurs 105-101 to avoid a four-game losing streak last time out.

However, while Melo’s injury concerns have played a part in the Knicks’ lacklustre showing so far the Madison Square Garden residents have often failed to set pulses racing with their star man on the court.

By way of comparison, Houston have been able to rely on the star power of Harden and Howard, with both players boasting impressive stats.

Howard ranks third in the NBA for rebounds this season at 13.1 per game and is the fourth most accurate shooter with a field goal percentage of .581.

However, it is points that win matches and Harden now looks to be revelling in his role as the main man in the team, with his points average of 24.0 ranking fifth in the league.

Harden scored 38 points and added 10 rebounds in the sides’ most recent meeting and if he can reach those numbers again it’s hard to see how the Knicks can leave the Lone Star State with anything other than another loss.

With the money line odds offering little value to all but the most adventurous Rockets fans, the best bet looks to be taking the hosts -11.5 at 10/11 when you consider that the Texans have covered that spread in four of their last five wins over the Big Apple outfit.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.