Game 18 Preview: LA Lakers at Houston Rockets

The Lakers are on a three game losing streak. Of course they are. The Rockets can't play a team that isn't hungry for a win. Heaven forbid we get a team that comes into Houston complacent. Nope, we gotta play hot teams (Dallas) and desperate teams needing a bounce back win (Lakers).

I know a lot of people have said it, and I don't know whether I believe it, but there is a belief that if the Rockets had stolen that opening night game in LA, they wouldn't be below .500.

Yeah, but those flaws would have been magnified eventually. The Rockets would have become "The Team to Beat" and had a target on their backs. Could these Rockets deal with that? They can't even deal with expecting to make the playoffs in the preseason.

The Rockets have a losing mentality. They are now completely fine with staying close but then blowing a game late. This cannot continue. It will tonight, though. You know it's true.

On to the matchups:

Matchups:

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Derek Fisher:

Fish is old. Lowry has been playing well. Lowry should win this matchup, but I would be so much more confident if it was AB on the floor.

Wouldn't we all?

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Kobe Bryant

27/6/5 is pretty good for anyone, except maybe LeBron James when he was a Cav.

He's pissed. He's ready. We're screwed.

And what the heck happened to Kevin Martin? He was OK against OKC (see what I did there?) but he was awful against Charlotte and Dallas. If the Rockets are going to have a chance in any game this season, he's going to have to be great.

Advantage: Lakers

SF: Shane Battier vs. Ron Artest

Battle of the defenders. Neither will guard each other much I would assume. They didn't in the first matchup.

So they're pretty much even.

Advantage: Even

PF: Luis Scola vs. Lamar Odom:

Unlike K-Mart, who has gone into a mini-slump (for him), Scola just isn't getting the ball. Dave mentioned it too in his piece, but the Rockets need Scola and Martin to carry this team if they hope to get through this rough patch.

Odom is filling in for Pau, who is filling in for Bynum. He's averaging a double-double (15/10), and he'll probably get about 20 rebounds against us.

Unless Luis gets plenty of burn, this is even.

Advantage: Even

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Pau Gasol:

Pau has been a beast since the season started. We first saw it against the Rockets, but he's been great all year. 22/12/4/2 on 55% shooting at his secondary position? Just incredible. It's still not fair that the Lakers were able to steal him for nothing, but them's the breaks.

Chuck is the only Rocket with a hope of guarding him were it not for the height differential. OK, that's true of everybody Chuck guards. However, most centers can't turn and hit jumpers like Gasol.

Advantage: Lakers

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Bench:

Lakers: Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, Luke Walton, Derrick Caracter, David Ebanks

Rockets: Ish Smith, Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Chase Budinger

Advantage: Lakers

Injuries:

Lakers: Theo Ratliff out, Andrew Bynum out

Rockets: Brooks out, Yao out

Prediction: Lakers are pissed. Who do you think will be hungrier? Hint: not us.

Lakers vs Rockets coverage

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