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Rockets vs. Lakers preview: Houston goes for 15 wins in a row

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
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The Houston Rockets are red hot and look to keep the streak going against the young Los Angeles Lakers. Will it be 15 straight?

The Rockets (25-4) are just dominating lately. While streaks in December usually don’t carry much significance, this current streak is the talk of the league. In fact, the streak has seen Chris Paul remain undefeated as a Rocket, and leads balloon to double digits in just about every game since the streak began. It has been fun watching James Harden euro step his way around opponents and Clint Capela dunk over everyone in sight.

Meanwhile, the Lakers (10-18) have shown promise. As a result of their efforts, Los Angeles could easily have a better record than they presently do. However, as is the case with most young teams, growing pains are being weathered at the moment. There are some nice things to note about the Lakers.

For starters, Lonzo Ball looks like an improved player on the road. His stats: 46 percent from the field (38.5 percent from behind the arc) 12.2 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals over the last five games. Brandon Ingram all of sudden is gaining respect, and Larry Nance Jr.’s return has given the Lakers some much needed energy.

Both teams are expected to be missing players this evening. With that said, here is tonight’s injury report:

Injury Report

Nene is listed as a game time decision with rest being the factor that likely keeps him out of this game. Meanwhile, Luc Mbah a Moute continues to recover from the shoulder injury he suffered against the Hornets last Thursday.

As for the Lakers, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is listed out for an off the court issue. Brook Lopez is also listed out with an ankle injury suffered during their overtime loss to the Warriors.

Projected Starting Lineups

Rockets

Chris Paul/James Harden/Trevor Ariza/Ryan Anderson/Clint Capela

Lakers

Lonzo Ball/Jordan Clarkson/Brandon Ingram/Larry Nance Jr./Andrew Bogut

While Bogut hasn’t played much this season, expect the seasoned veteran to split starter minutes with Ivica Zubac at center.

Thoughts for tonight

After being spoiled by a 14 game win streak, what else is there to expect from a Rockets team clicking on all cylinders? Well, whatever it may be, the Lakers are in for a long night. Perhaps coach Mike D’Antoni rolls out some test lineups if this game gets out of hand quickly. Also, fans in Houston will be itching to see what CP3 does against the rookie Ball.

Another player to watch out for is Eric Gordon. EG seems to have found his stroke again because he has been shooting lights out from the three-point line. As a matter of fact, Gordon stat line looks like this:

21. 4 points per game, shooting 59 percent from the field, and 51 percent from beyond the arc over the last five games. Those numbers are ridiculous. Just the other night, EG scored 33 points on 7/12 shooting from the three-point line. If the Lakers leave him space, they’d better be ready for an extremely long night at the Toyota Center.

Related Story: Houston Rockets: Eric Gordon seems to have found his shooting touch

Clint Capela should have a good night against the Lakers front court that is a bit thin at the moment. With CP3 and Harden on the floor, it’s a given that Capela will get a number of good looks.

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The Ingram-Ariza matchup should prove to be fun. Both guys are long and tall and it’ll be interesting to see how Ingram takes on a defender of Ariza’s caliber. However, these Lakers are not to be taken lightly. I understand that they beat a shorthanded Golden State squad, but they still almost beat a team in overtime that had Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. All versatile and serviceable players.

So with that said, the Rockets should approach this game with a “go hard or go home” attitude. One off night, and Los Angeles could end Houston’s win streak in an instant.

And finally, it will be a sight to see how the crowd reacts as Lonzo makes his first visit to Houston. No doubt, the crowd will beg for CP3 or James Harden to put the rookie on skates tonight. Per the usual, however, the Rockets will only be concerned about getting the victory and building as a team.

How do you guys think tonight’s game will go? Post your stat predictions for Paul, Harden, Capela, EG, or any other Rockets player in the comments section below!

Next: Chris Paul named Western Conference Player of the Week

Tonight’s game will be on AT&T Sportsnet SW at 7 p.m. CT. Follow us on Twitter for live feeds throughout the game and like us on Facebook!

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