First off, huge thanks to Jeremy for stepping in for me on the Celtics preview. That was awesome of him. Plus he was right about a lot of things, including it being a close win. I might have to start watching my back.
I’m sure a few of you have marked this game as a “revenge game.” The Rockets dropped their opening game in Los Angeles to these Lakers. Despite holding the lead for much of the night, jumpers stopped falling for the good guys and LA just decided that missing wasn’t their bag.
The Lakers are coming into town on a 3-game losing streak after starting the season blazing hot. Most of their recent struggles can be attributed to injuries. Jose Calderon is out 2-4 weeks with a hamstring strain. Tarik Black checked out of Monday’s game against Utah and missed practice Tuesday with a sprained ankle. D’Angelo Russell is also unlikely to play after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection about 2 weeks ago. Nick Young is also out for another 1-3 weeks with a strained calf. Basically, the Lakers are losing bodies right and left.
That doesn’t make this team any less dangerous. Young teams are always hit or miss. They get up to play good teams and are capable of putting on some incredible showcases. In addition to beating Houston on opening night, the Lakers have wins over the Warriors, Thunder, and Bulls. They’ve also swept the Hawks already.
With the lack of guards at his disposal, Luke Walton trotted out a starting lineup of Brandon Ingram-Luol Deng-Ron Artest (yeah we’re calling this still)-Julius Randle-Timofey Mozgov against the Jazz on Monday. The results were...not surprising at all. Every starter finished with a +/- of -8 or lower. Artest dropped a -26 in 12 minutes. I mean, I could do that.
However, LA’s bench kept them in the game. Lou Williams does for the Lakers what Eric Gordon provides for Houston. Jordan Clarkson dropped 25 points in 25 minutes against Houston in October. With Gordon practicing Tuesday and reportedly available tonight, Houston should be able to keep up with the Lakers’ bench.
The Rockets are the deeper team and are undoubtedly better than this decimated Lakers squad. And after a late come-from-behind win against the Celtics (thanks Al), the Rockets need to take care to put the Lakers away quickly. Remember: good teams win close games; great teams avoid them.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT.