Road to the Repeat: Houston, We Have a Problem

Embarrassed.  Pathetic.  Dismantled.  All three words can describe the performance put forth by the Lakers on Friday night in Denver.  Luckily, it was a game in early November and will only count as one loss at the end of the season.  Tonight the Lakers get a chance to put that horrendous performance behind them against a surprising Houston Rockets team.  The Lakers and Rockets met earlier this season, with the Lakers winning a close game, 103-102, down in Houston.  There is no doubt the Rockets will come out tough again tonight, and it will be up to the Lakers to establish dominance and get back on the winning track.  The Lakers haven’t had a two game losing streak since March 29 and 31st last season, and are looking to keep that streak going tonight against the Rockets.  As Los Angeles looks to get back into the win column tonight, here are some of the keys to the game:

  • The Battle Up Front: In the first meeting between these two teams, rebounding was key.  Andrew Bynum had a terrific game for the Lakers, bringing in 17 boards.  Unfortunately, Carl Landry of Houston also had 14, and the Rockets were able to out-rebound Los Angeles 54-48.  If the Lakers want to keep Houston out of the game early, establishing a solid low post game and grabbing a lot of rebounds is a very good way to do it.
  • No Pau, or Yao: With both teams All-Star big men sidelined with injuries, both teams will need other players to step up and play a larger roll in tonight’s game.  In their first meeting, Kobe Bryant had 41 points, leading all scorers.  However, Carl Landry also had 20 points and kept Houston close until the very end.  While it seems obvious that Bryant will score more than Landry tonight, how much more may be key in determining the outcome.
  • Artest vs. Ariza –  Round 2: The first meeting between Houston and the Lakers was certainly chippy.  There is no doubt that last year’s playoff series and the Ariza/Artest swap has caused a lot of animosity between the two clubs.  Artest and Ariza both picked up early technical fouls last time, and were playing tough, physical basketball the entire night.  Don’t expect that to be any different tonight, as both these teams have a lot of pride that they feel the need to defend.

A win tonight for Los Angeles is crucial.  After the absolutely dreadful performance they showed Friday night in Denver, they must come out with a high level of intensity and desire tonight.  It was the third quarter that killed the Lakers against the Nuggets, so expect lots of energy and solid play, especially after the half.  The Lakers do not lose consecutive games very often, so it will be interesting to see how they do tonight against a young, yet talented Houston Rockets team.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Staples Center, Los Angeles

Tip-off – 6:30 PST

TV: FS West

Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW Home of the Los Angeles Lakers)