Game Day: Houston Rockets versus Lakers
The last time the Houston Rockets stepped on the court they were sporting a season high 5-game win streak and were facing the team expected to finish a top the Eastern Conference. Adding excitement for H-Town fans was the fact LeBron James and the Cavaliers arrived having played the night prior.
So much for failing to meet expectation; the product and effort the Rockets brought to the court in that game was possibly their worst effort of the season. Given the Rockets have lost to lower tier teams by 20 points that’s saying a lot.
Now they return to the hardwood to once again play a squad who played the night prior while they are once again rested. Granted they’ll be on the road, but it was a long trip so the advantage should belong to Houston.
As the team prepares for game day the unknown is who’ll be available to play. Both sides have two starters who may not be able to go which should certainly play a factor in the outcome.
With that let’s preview the match:
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Game Time: 9:30 PM EST – 8:30 PM CT
TV: NBA League Pass, ROOT in Houston and TWC SN / TWC D in LA
Radio: 790 AM in Houston and 710 AM ESPN / 1330 A in LA
In two previous meeting this season over 6 days the Rockets added two victories to their record. They’
December 17 HOU 107 – 87 LAL
December 12 LAL 97 – 126 HOU
January 25: HOU 99-87 LAL
November 19: LAL 98-92 HOU
- Kobe Bryant – sore Achilles, game time decision
- Brandon Bass – ankle, questionable
- Larry Nance Jr. – knee, left last game in first quarter, game time decision
- Dwight Howard – oblique, game time decision
- Patrick Beverley- ankle, game time decision
- Donatas Motiejunas – back, scheduled to be reevaluated this week
- Sam Dekker – back surgery November 20 , will be out 3 months
The Key Match-up:
With so many players listed as questionable the better question may be who’ll be available to play. To wit, Lawson should get the start if Beverley can’t go and Jones should get the start if Howard can’t go on the Rockets side. For the Lakers the main issue would be if Kobe and Nance Jr. both can’t play what Bryon Scott will do.
The last game Kobe missed Anthony Brown replaced him and the logical replacement for Nance Jr. would be Julius Randle, but there has been issues reported between Scott and the first year power forward. Specifically Randle has been unhappy about his playing time and Scott has been adamant about him showing maturity and acting like a professional.
Keys To Winning:
Don’t Play Down to Competition: It’s important the Rockets stop allowing bottom tier teams to stick around late in games which has frequently led to losses this season. These types of teams should offer the Rockets an opportunity to get their bench players some run because they are already sporting a comfortable lead by the end of the third quarter.
Shut Down Lakers Early: The Lakers played the Jazz on the road Saturday so they’ll be the team with greater fatigue. Then again, that’s what was thought when the Cavaliers arrived having played the night prior.
Keep the Pace High: With the Rockets scoring 7 additional points per game and averaging 10 steals they should look to push the pace as the Lakers haven’t proven themselves capable of stopping fast breaks or defending in transition.
Win the Paint Battle: the other areas the Rockets hold an edge is scoring in the paint. Though Howard may be out they can still capitalize by using Capela, Jones and perhaps Bickerstaff will remove the shackles off K.J. McDaniels, so he can join Harrell via young active legs.
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As of posting the line is off, so we’ll check back throughout the day to update. With the Lakers on the second night of a back to back expect the spread to favor Houston and the over under to be over 210 points. Last time out it was 213.5 which feels reasonable again.
Ironically the Lakers have played well lately, so don’t expect them to roll and play dead. They may want to ensure they stay low enough to claim their lottery pick, but they’ll pepper that with wins likely relishing victories over their western counterparts.Though the Rockets had the recent 5-game win streak a loss today would knock them back down to .500 again, a mark they’ve had trouble eclipsing all season. Houston must come out, employ good defensive habits to bury the memory of that ugly game versus Cleveland and be professional i.e. get back on track.Prediction: Rockets by 7
For more exciting news and stories on the Los Angles Lakers visit our affiliate Fansided site: Lake Show Life Plus check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Lakers :
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.