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Rockets vs. Lakers game preview: the champs are here

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The defending NBA champions arrive in Houston today for a rematch of last season’s Western Conference semi-finals. The Rockets won game 1 before the Lakers stormed back to win four straight on their way to another Larry O’Brien Trophy.

That series will probably go down in Houston sports lore for the Danuel House Jr. story. House invited a female COVID tester into his room in the Bubble, violating protocols and forcing him to be sent home. The Rockets didn’t win another game after the incident, and House’s name was mud among Rockets fans.

House is still with the team, though he will be out tonight due to back spasms. Ben McLemore is questionable with an ankle tweak he suffered late in the game against Orlando. Anthony Davis missed LA’s last game against the Bulls with an adductor strain, but should be available tonight. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has missed four straight games with an ankle sprain, but Frank Vogel sounded hopeful that he would be available for tonight’s game.

The Rockets probably wish they could play the banged-up Magic every night, but Houston still needs to prove themselves against the better teams in the Western Conference. The Rockets are 0-3 against teams that are likely to be in the playoffs this season, and a win could do well for Houston’s spirit moving forward. Gone are the days of the tiny lineup hoping to spread the Lakers out. Now, the Rockets have Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins to work down low against Davis and LeBron James drives. Rockets killer Dennis Schroeder joined the Lakers in the offseason, so expect him to drop 30 tonight.

Tip-off is at 6pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest