January 8, 2014 — 5:00PM (PST)
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Los Angeles Lakers (14-21) come into tonight’s rematch vs. center Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (22-13) with no momentum, especially after losing last night’s game vs. the Dallas Mavericks, 110-97. Their defense was not much better last night, allowing the Mavericks to shoot over 50% from the field goal in three of the four quarters
To make matters worse, G/F Nick Young struggled last night dealing with a back issue and his availability for tonight’s game is uncertain. If Young cannot play tonight, the Lakers are left with only eight healthy players available for tonight’s game.
The Lakers have been running their offense throught PG Kendall Marshall, and C/F Pau Gasol. Marshall did not have as good of a game last night as he did during his first 2 starts, scoring 18 points but only dishing out 6 assists and committing 6 turnovers. Gasol also struggled for the first time since he had a relapse from his sinus infection, scoring only 15 points on 5-14 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets come into tonight’s match-up looking to seek revenge from their last match-up when Lakers PG Steve Blake hit the game-winning 3 pt. shot. C Dwight Howard has had another all-star season from the Center position, averaging 17.4 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. Howard still has offensive deficiencies at times, but has shown great defensive prowess for the Rockets this season, something the Lakers dearly miss. Another all-star, SG James Harden has definitely enjoyed his tenure for the Rockets, averaging 24.4 PPG while dishing out 5.2 RPG. Harden’s craftiness while attacking the basket will once again cause the Lakers a lot of problems tonight.
PG - Jeremy Lin / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Rockets]
SG - James Harden / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Rockets]
SF - Chandler Parsons / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Rockets]
PF - Terrence Jones / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]
C - Dwight Howard / Robert Sacre [Advantage: Rockets]
Notable Bench Players
Rockets: PG Aaron Brooks, F Omri Casspi, G Francisco Garcia, F Greg Smith
Lakers: G/F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, F Ryan Kelly
Bench Advantage: Even
Rockets: Out-C Omer Asik, Out-PG Patrick Beverley, Questionable-SF Chandler Parsons, Questionable-F Greg Smith
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Probable-G/F Nick Young
Keys for Lakers Victory
Defense: The Lakers’ defense did not fare much better vs. Mavericks, allowing 110 points and allowing them to get easy shots up. Their defense will be exposed again, especially since both guards, Harden and PG Jeremy Lin, love driving to the basket and creating shots for themselves and their teammates. Gasol should not have too much trouble guarding Howard one-on-one, but the Lakers will be vulnerable guarding the other 4 players on the floor.
Shoot the Ball Well: Is taking a lot of three-point shots a recipe for a championship? Absolutely not. However, it could be the only recipe available for the Lakers to give themselves a shot to win tonight’s game. When the Lakers defeated the Rockets in their last matchup, the Lakers made 45.7% of their three-point shots. Since the Lakers have been devastated by numerous amounts of injury, players like SG Jodie Meeks have to shoot the ball extremely well tonight with confidence for the Lakers to even have a chance at the end to steal the game from the Rockets.
Hopefully the Lakers will play as inspired tonight as they did during their last meeting vs. Rockets. However, the Lakers roster looks much different now, with all of their point guards who started off the season on the roster now out for the foreseeable future. With the Lakers’ ship sinking quickly the way it is, Laker Nation can only hope for the Lakers to keep themselves respectable vs. Rockets throughout tonight’s game.