Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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The time is finally here! The Houston Rockets' 50th NBA season begins Tuesday as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the post-Kobe Lakers in Staples Center. After an encouraging preseason where the Rockets won five out of the six games that the starters played in, we are all ready to see what this team can do when the games count.

Although they didn't have a good record the young Lakers still showed plenty of positive signs in the preseason. Last seasons second overall pick, D'Angelo Russell shined in the preseason under a coach who doesn't hate his guts, and even Nick Young looks ready to be a contributor to more than just the teams chaos after shooting over 45% on threes in a lot of preseason minutes.

Starting Lineups

Heading into training camp there were four starters nearly set in stone: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson. Due to Patrick Beverley's recent knee surgery newcomer Eric Gordon has been thrust into the starting lineup in his place, and Clint Capela appears to have won his spot as starting center over veteran big man Nene.

The Lakers went into this offseason planning to add veterans to help their young core grow and did just that by bringing in Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov who will start at small forward and center respectively. Joining them in the starting lineup are point guard D'Angello Russell and third year power forward Julius Randle. The shooting guard position has been a bit of a training camp battle between former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and second round surprise of two seasons ago Jordan Clarkson, one of which will start Wednesday night.

Three Things to Watch

  • Harden at point guard - Watch how the Rockets' offense runs through Harden and how he handles more facilitating duties.

  • It's Clint's time - Watch as the era of Clint Capela as the starter begins, after showing strong signs in his first two seasons Capela has taken over as starter and it will be interesting to see if he can scale his production up with an increase in his playing time.

  • The new guys - Watch Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Nene in their first regular season performance with the Houston Rockets along.

Prediction and Tip-Off

I predict the Rockets will win comfortably in a high-scoring season opener, behind double-doubles from James Harden (points and assists) and Clint Capela (points and rebounds), continuing the dazzling offensive display they put on in the preseason.

Tip-off will be at 9:30 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, October 26th. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.


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