The Rockets have lucked out in the craziest way. The Lakers will be missing Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill. So no matchups since I don't know all the details.
Usually you hear me lament (read: bitch and moan) about how the little breaks don't go the Rockets' way. There's always something going against the good guys. The Rockets will be playing their fourth game in five nights while their opponent is playing at home with three days rest. A player will come back from injury in order to play the Rockets, where he'll go off. Well that's not happening this season.
Against these very Lakers last time in Houston, Pau Gasol didn't play. Tonight, all three major big men, including two future Hall of Famers (potentially), won't be dressed to play. The Lakers "bigs" are now Antawn Jamison and Robert Sacre (a good rookie out of Gonzaga, but I love Gonzaga so I'm not the most objective person here admittedly). That's it. Two guys.
The Rockets also didn't have to play against Eric Gordon when the Hornets came to Houston, even though he had played the night before. Anderson Varejao is almost back from injury but the Rockets didn't play against him in Cleveland. The Rockets played the Knicks twice sans Amare Stoudemire.
I'm not saying any of those players would have absolutely made the difference, but it's always easier to play a team with one fewer star.
If the Grizzlies were missing their two big men, I'd say the Rockets would win with no problem. They're a good team, but without Marc Gasol or Z-Bo, they're average or worse. If you took the bigs from Chicago, you'd also be expecting a win.
Not the Lakers, though. You see, their backcourt involves two of the best guards ever. Kobe Bryant is playing maybe his best season ever at 34 (!!!) years of age. Steve Nash is still Nashty. Those two guys can still beat you by themselves. The Lakers can finally run a "Seven Seconds or Less" offense for Mike D'Antoni.
It's kind of a lose-lose situation for the Rockets. If they lose, it sucks because they lost to an undermanned team. If they win, they did what they were supposed to do against an undermanned team.
Two things about that:
1. Who cares? A win is a win is a win.
2. See number 1. No excuses. This is a game the Rockets have to win if they're serious about the playoffs.
Is this a game the Rockets can lose? Absolutely. Is it a game they should win? Yes.
The Lakers will still score a ton. Heck, their shooters might finally hit all their shots and the Rockets could lose by 30.
Or, Asik and Patterson could dominate the glass. Smith and Morris could contribute through their respective niches. Chandler Parsons could start slashing while trying to keep Kobe Bryant from scoring 50. Douglas and Delfino could be sparks off the bench if guys aren't hitting shots or playing defense.
And if Harden and Lin aren't attacking the basket from the tip then Kevin McHale will have done the worst job preparing his team for a game in the history of ever. No bigs=GO TO THE HOLE ALL NIGHT LONG!
Tip off is at 7pm CST. Let's go get it.