Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers game preview

Swaggy P - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets and Lakers go at it for the fourth and final time this season at the Staples Center.

I swear I was going to write a real preview today, but it's too difficult to know who the Lakers will play. I believe Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar, and Chris Kaman will still be out for the purple and gold.

The Rockets will likely be starting their same starting five from the last week. No Dwight Howard means no booing from the LA faithful on every touch.

The usual suspects will get plenty of burn for the Lake Show: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill, Kent Bazemore, Nick Young, and Robert Sacre.

This is a combination of hustle guys and players that can catch fire in a flash and put you down 20 early if you aren't paying attention. The Rockets should know since they've had trouble getting off to good starts against this Lakers squad this year.

For the Rockets, the magic number to wrap up the 4 seed is 3. With the Blazers with 4 games left and the Rockets with 6, there are 10 chances to get those 3.

Other things to consider: with this game on TNT, expect the Lakers to play for pride and not just roll over. Furthermore, the Rockets have a rematch with the Nuggets in Denver tomorrow night. Sure Denver hasn't played in 3 nights and the Rockets are on a back-to-back, losing an hour, and travelling to altitude. This is how Stern got us back for getting OKC on a back-to-back.

But for tonight, it's important for the Rockets to end this early for both of the above reasons. Get the lead, and don't look back.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CST on TNT.

Rockets vs Lakers coverage

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