The Lakers are in Houston, Texas for the second match-up of their three-game road trip to face the Rockets. The Lakers are slumping, as evidenced by their season-low 38 points in the first half of a horrible game in Portland, which has become the Lakers house of horrors and the place that they’ve lost seven straight games.
The Lakers have also dropped three of their last five road games but hold a 21-9 road record which is the best in the conference. The Lakers aren’t simply playing to be the best in the conference, despite their performance of late; they’re playing for a championship.
It is evident that the Lakers miss Andrew Bynum and need his presence in the middle to be a complete team. As stated by Coach Jackson he won’t be playing until April and his not being there can’t be an excuse for the lack of defense being played or the teams reliance on jumpers as oppose to running the offense and attacking the basket.
The Lakers can’t lose sight of that fact and they’ve got to start respecting their opponent and playing them as if they’re the best in the association that night.
A month ago, Tracy McGrady was lost for the season with a knee injury and it appeared to be a severe blow but Houston has won 11 of the 13 games since. The Rockets are playing well as a team and Ron Artest has increased his scoring output from 15.8 points to averaging a team-high 20.4 points per game.
Yao Ming has remained a presence in the paint and is averaging 19.7 points & 9.7 rebounds per game. The Lakers will have to slow both players and limit their impact on this game. The Lakers need solid games from Kobe & Pau, someone else has to step up in the absence of Lamar Odom who will miss this game serving a one-game suspension.
The task to slow guards Aaron Brooks, Von Wafer and Luther Head; limit the drive and kick opportunities, will be a team effort.
The Lakers need to deny Yao from catching the ball in the post and put a tremendous amount of pressure on the passer. Force Yao to have to move his feet to catch a pass in the painted area by keeping a player between him and the passer. Rebounding & defense is needed from D.J. Mbenga & Josh Powell.
The Lakers will have to control the tempo, the glass, get back in transition and rotate out to three point shooters. An impact from the bench players is needed.
Defensively is where this game will be won or lost.
Tipoff: 5:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Houston: FSN Houston HD (Bill Worrell & Clyde Drexler)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Houston: KILT Sportsradio 610 (Craig Ackerman)
- Andrew Bynum (Knee)
- Tracy McGrady (Knee)