Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers

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After a huge come back victory over the the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets get ready for their 68th game against the Lakers.  The Rockets have now won six of their nine games since the All-Star break, building some positive momentum at 46-21 on the season. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by potential MVP James Harden at 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game. The Rockets are ranked 2nd in offensive rating, 15th in defensive rating, and 3rd in overall net rating.

The Lakers seem to be in full blown tank mode, hoping to lose as many game as possible in order to secure a high draft pick. After losing all but one of their nine games since the break, the Lakers have the leagues second worst record, 20-47. The Lakers are led in scoring and assists by D'Angelo Russell at 15.1 point and 4.8 assists, and in rebounding by Julius Randle, who pulls in 8.6 rebounds per game. The Lakers currently rank 25th in offensive rating, 30th in defensive rating, and just 29th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets will likely continue to start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Sam Dekker at power forward, and Clint Capela at center to start the game, with competing Sixth Man of the Year candidates Eric Gordon and Lou Williams being the first guys off the bench.

The Lakers, though fully healthy, have decided to sit Mozgov for the rest of the season in order to give their young players more time to develop. If they stick with their recent starting lineup, we can expect to see the Lakers start with Jordan Clarkson at point guard, David Nwaba at shooting guard, Brandon Ingram at small forward, Julius Randle at center, and Ivaca Zubac at center. No, I didn't make two of those names up.

Three Things to Watch

  • Third and Final Match Up – After blowing the first game of the season to this Lakers team, the Rockets demolished the Lakers in their next meeting by nearly 40 points, behind the usual three point barrage. Watch to see if the Rockets are able to repeat their dominant performance in the third and final game between the two teams.

  • Five Straight – Thanks to a Trailblazers loss and the win over the Cavs, the Rockets have clinched their fifth straight playoff appearance. Watch to see if the Rockets take their foot off the pedal some down the stretch, as they are almost a lock for the third seed in the West, four games above fourth, and six-and-a-half below second.

  • Brewer Back – After being traded to the Lakers at this year's trade deadline, veteran wing Corey Brewer returns to Toyota center for the first time. Watch to see how the crowd reacts to the former transition dynamo upon his return, and how he looks on his new team.

Prediction and Tip-Off

If the Rockets don't win this game, I'll eat my shoe. I am very confident in the Rockets ability to beat down this Lakers team just waiting for the season to end, even if the shots aren't falling

Tip-off will be at 8:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Wednesday, March 15th. The game will be televised on ROOTSPORTS with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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