Houston Rockets Need to Jump on the Los Angeles Lakers Early

By Vinny Hardy

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets know what awaits them when they take the court tonight to face the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight Howard really knows what is coming. He makes his return to southern California where he spent one forgettable season in the purple and gold.

.@DwightHoward returns to Staples Center as the Rockets visit the Lakers – 9:30pm tip-off on @ESPNNBA & @CSNHouston pic.twitter.com/Nak2sWIKXQ

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 19, 2014

Regardless of when the crowd arrives, he will be the main target of their virulence this evening. The big fella’s first season in Houston is going the way most Lakers fan’s envisioned his debut campaign in Los Angeles would go.

.@DwightHoward‘s 35 double-doubles before the All-Star break are the most by a Rockets player since @DR34M in 1993-94 (38).

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 19, 2014

He’s playing at a near Olajuwon-esque level right now. The fact that Lakers fans are watching him put up these numbers from afar coupled with their own team languishing in last place explains why they will be more than a little salty tonight.

Houston has to rise above all of this peripheral noise. They are undefeated in the month of February. They are riding a 7-game winning streak and have won eight of their last ten games. The Lakers are a team Houston is supposed to beat. If they come in and take away the Lakers’ will early they should be fine. However, Los Angeles will not roll over and play dead. Their last game against the Oklahoma City Thunder is evidence of this as Kevin Durant had to get it together in the second half to lead his team to victory.

Robert Sacre, Chris Kaman and the rest of the Lakers’ bigs will be fired up to go against Howard, but several doses of Dwight early and often will will calm all of that down. Expect Howard to have a strong game in his return to Los Angeles and help Houston start their five game road trip off on the right foot.

Follow @VinnyHardy