Lakers vs. Rockets Game Preview: Lakers Look To Go Up 2-0 Against...

Lakers vs. Rockets Game Preview: Lakers Look To Go Up 2-0 Against Houston

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, the main headline coming in tonight’s match-up is going to be Dwight Howard. But because of the absence of Kobe Bryant, and perhaps even worse, the lack of team depth for the Lakers, this game doesn’t quite provide the excitement that it was expected to.

Nonetheless, there is still a game to played, and they Lakers will have to play a near-perfect game if they expect to upset the Rockets on the second night of  a back-to-back on the road.

The Lakers have been playing well offensively as of late with the addition of Kendall Marshall into the starting lineup, but they have somehow lost sight of to play defense giving up more than 100 points over their last two games. The Rockets are the fourth highest scoring team in the league averaging 105.6 points per game, and we can expect James Harden and Dwight Howard to be ready to play, as they were thoroughly disappointed in their performance against the Lakers on November 7, 2013.

Frontcourt: Unfortunately for the Laker fans who have watched the Rockets play this year, Dwight Howard looks to be fully engaged, and has been playing very well.  He comes in averaging 17.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Pau had success defending Dwight in their first match-up, but due to ailing injuries, it would be surprising to see Pau replicate that.

The Lakers will certainly  have to send help to Pau on the block if Dwight catches it too deep. Pau must focus on staying out of foul trouble and on keeping Dwight off the offensive glass.

Terrence Jones has surprisingly turned into a formidable big man after being elevated into the starting lineup alongside Dwight. Jones is a natural forward, and provides the spacing that is needed to make this offense flow.  The other starter in the frontcourt is Chandler Parsons, who is perhaps the best bargain in the league due to his low salary (under $1 million per year) and high production. He is a rising star in the league, and comes in averaging 17.2 points per game, along with 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Backcourt: The primary options in the backcourt for the Rockets’ are  none other than James Harden and Jeremy Lin. Lin is one of the best players in the league at driving to the basket and drawing fouls, and Harden is one of the more polished scorers in the game of basketball.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, with Bryant, Henry, Blake, and Farmar out, the task of guarding Harden and Lin will fall on Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young. There isn’t much that Coach D’Antoni can do, as there will likely be mismatches across the board tonight.

Keys To The Game
Keeping Houston Off The Glass: In order to run and get out in the open court, the Lakers have to rebound on the defensive end. The Rockets rank 7th in the NBA in rebounds per game, and Dwight Howard tends to control the paint against every team he is matched up against.  If the Lakers can’t rebound, then expect Howard and Jones to collect their fair share of offensive boards and for the Rockets to rack up second chance points.

Limit Turnovers: With only one active  point guard in Kendall Marshall, the Lakers have a tough task ahead of them in running Coach D’Antoni’s system. This team has struggled with turnovers due to the lack of point guard depth, and it’s been tough for D’Antoni to adjust his coaching philosophies amidst that predicament.  The Lakers have to limit their turnovers because against a younger, more athletic Rockets team, turnovers will lead to easy baskets in transition.

Three-Point Makes: It’s known that much of the Lakers’ success this season has come from their ability to convert from behind three-point line at a high level. That was the one thing that kept them close with Houston in their last matchup, and they’ll have to rely on that again if they want to win tonight. They are one of the better  three-point shooting teams in the league, and it’s been proven that if they can’t capitalize on open opportunities, then it’s tough for them to win ball games.

Houston Rockets (22-13) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (14-21)
5:00 PM PST, January 8, 2014
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
TV: Time Warner Cable Sportsnet, NBA TV
Radio: ESPN LA 710

Rockets Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: James Harden
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Terrence Jones
C: Dwight Howard

Key Reserves: PG Aaron Brooks SF Francisco Garcia  GF Omri Casspi

Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Robert Sacre

VIDEO: David Beckham On Being A Lakers Fan

  • Kinky MDA Offense

    You have huge, mostly delusional fan base.So this is a huge problem since people expect this to change fast the Lakers will keep on losing games.

    This is not a one year turnaround more like a 4 to 5 year rebuild just to return to the Playoffs.ESPN has completely stopped talking about the Lakers.

    This whole season i have not heard about the Lakers at all except for when Kobe came back briefly only to leave again with a injury.

    Lakers are not getting any publicity on ESPN and in fact i just found out the Lakers versus Rockets game got cancelled on ESPN since Lakers suck so bad this season.Lakers are bad.

    • Evan

      With quite a bit of cap space this offseason, I think we could make some serious changes. However, I’m really not impressed with the staff, from coaching to ownership, of the Lakers the past couple seasons.

  • Huin

    The NBA has no true way of developing talent they have the stupid D-League and that is supposed to be a inferior generic version of the NBA.It’s the lowly garbage trash basketball league where no good players are supposed to play there.

    Well when a player like Rajon Rondo is on the fence about rehabbing in the D-League for a few games then you know that league must suck big time.D-League sucks and most the players in it will never make it to the NBA.Lakers have no way of seriously developing talent since the D-League is not competitive enough.

    In Baseball they have Minor League Baseball and in Triple A baseball players are like a All Star team all the prospects are ready to play in the MLB and they are usually better than the starters on the MLB team.

    NBA needs to create a much better Minor League Basketball League.Lakers will be stuck losing games and being a bad product.Lakers and every team need to create a true Minor League.Player development is a vital part of making the NBA a better product.

  • Aaron

    Painful. But the Lakers need to lose. Awesome draft coming up and we must rebuild.

  • Sti1lmatic

    “It’s gonna be a long night for Uncle Jesse”

    -Johnny Drama

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Come on Lakers beat the hated Rockets.Hang another loss on that Coward Howard.Make them pay for it.I was very impressed with Kendall Marshall last night he had 18 points on 70% shooting.

    Also Kendall dished out 6 assists and he would have more assists if the players like Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson would have nailed some open 3 pointers and also Sacre and Hill fumbled easy dunks from his passes and players got fouled when he got them the ball in easy position to score.

    Lakers have something special in Kendall Marshall and they need to use him to the fullest and get the most out of the North Carolina product.Kendall is very hungry to play great and prove he belongs as a starter in the NBA on the Lakers.Marshall is a much improved shooter and he is a great passer.

    Go Lakers!

    • C*HarrisTHEboss

      6 ast – 6 TOs and 7 of his points came in garbage time

      • The Boss Of All Bosses

        Those players on the Lakers were fumbling his passes.Kendall had huge assists numbers and he is a true boss no fake.He don’t bluff.Haters gonna hate.

        • C*HarrisTHEboss

          Coming from a studio boss like you that means nothing – Did you watch the game? he threw 4 cross court passes that got picked off and was pointing to himself in blame –

          PS. you sound like a chump – bout as boss as glen davis beating up a hotel computer

          • kobe24

            What you said is true but lets be realistic here, its his 3rd time starting. Everyone has these kinds of games, we can’t expect Marshall to be giving 1 TO with 15+ assist each game.

            Gotta let him grow, he will become a good player

    • Sti1lmatic

      I agree. Marshall seems to have a true PG game. He’s looking to dish out assist before scoring points. I really like how he’s on point with his ball passing. I hope he doesn’t get benched for good once Curly, Moe and Jack come back.

      • The Boss Of All Bosses

        True Kendall Marshall is a great passer and these stats prove it 15 assists and 17 assists in the last week in separate games.Some Lakers fans are stupid enough to think that this Kendall Marshall kid is some fluke.Rolling my eyes at the haters they must be idiots to not have followed his college assists stats,he is one of the best passers ever in NCAA basketball and his game translates to the NBA.Nothing ever surprises me anymore,people yap a lot.SMH!

  • Lakers Fan

    Looking forward to another loss

  • C*HarrisTHEboss

    MDA should without a doubt play Chris Kaman tonight – Sacre is really not doing us any favors on the offensive glass and has zero offensive touch – burying a former all-star at the end of the bench does nothing to help team chemistry and just further divides the locker room

    • joelsky

      I agree 100% with you. I dont know why he keeps playing Sacre over Kaman. I believe a Pau-Kaman tandem would give us a better front line protecting the rim. Kaman can block and rebound plus can give you points in offense better than Sacre. This MDA really sucks! I hope he realized that today in this game.

      • Sti1lmatic

        Kaman is a monster once he gets his game on.

  • Jim213

    Rockettes are looking to avenge their loss against the Lakers. Aside of that it’s hard to believe they could pull a win off today when the entire team is on the lowest of lows like Young has mentioned. This may get real ugly but as long as they’re competitive that’s all one can ask unless they’ve done a 180 with regards to their mental state.