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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers game preview

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not often that a marquee matchup happens between two 0-1 teams, but that’s what will happen tonight as the Rockets head to the City of Angels to take on LeBron James and the LeBron Jameses Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN got their wish this offseason as LeBron finally chose to go to a large market. Now they can be on television 40 times a year and it actually makes sense. No more questions like “Why is ESPN showing Kings-Lakers when Thunder-Blazers is happening?” Now their comeback can be “It’s LeBron!” And frankly, it makes sense.

The league’s best player instantly makes the Lakers intriguing, and combined with the youth and imminent cap space next summer, we will be hearing about David Stern’s favorite team for the foreseeable future. Oh, and that space next year? They’re going for Kevin Durant AND Kawhi Leonard.

The Lakers are not just LeBron, of course. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart are pieces that can either contribute to their ascendancy or be used as trade fodder to bring in more win-now pieces. With the bevy of one-year deals that LA handed out this offseason, it’s clear they are playing for beyond this season. That’s the smart move, as Golden State might just have one year left as a powerhouse with both Durant and Klay Thompson hitting free agency next summer. If the Lakers play their cards right, they could benefit from the power vacuum.

I’ve avoided talking about the Rockets for as long as possible, but I guess we have to talk about the team that the blog is about.

The New Orleans game was one of the most deflating regular season losses I’ve experienced. It was reminiscent of the 2015-16 team that came in with expectations after adding Ty Lawson to a team that reached the Western Conference Finals. That team opened with three straight 20-point losses and cost Kevin McHale his job just 11 games into the season. Well, this version of the Rockets added Carmelo Anthony after reaching the Western Conference Finals and opened with a 19-point loss at home to the Pelicans. So I guess mathematically this season is better than that one. So far.

Staples Center is going to be rocking since it’s the LeBron James home debut. Los Angeles gave Houston serious trouble last season with its youth, and now they brought in the best player on the planet and Rockets killers Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. I think this is going to be a rough one.

Prediction: Lakers take it 120-99.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on ESPN