Lakers have chance to rebound with game tonight against Houston
The Lakers can treat tonight's game against Houston as if the 91-75 loss Friday to Oklahoma City was just a bad dream and it never happened. Those wanting to approach the game that way may not want to look at the standings or read anything written about the Lakers. Unless, of course, it's at the L.A. Times website.
Or the Lakers (53-19) may acknowledge the reality and try to prevent the hangover from having a lasting effect. Good to note - taking long showers and drinking lots of coffee don't do anything, but gym workouts really do the trick. However the Lakers want to slice it, the fact the Lakers play tonight can be a really good thing and a really bad thing.
It's the gift and the curse, what with back-to-back games. You can literally move on to the next game either by building momentum off a good win or quickly forget about a bad loss by immediately correct mistakes. In the Lakers case, they obviously fall under the latter. The curse, of course, is that quick travel time and little practice aren't really substitutes to quickly erase bad habits, such as 18 turnovers, 39.2% shooting from the field and a season-low seven assists.
But that's why they play the games. The Lakers are 7-3 this season on the second game of a back-to-back that features both contests on the road. And tonight's matchup provides a good opportunity to restore what at first appeared to be a good five-game trip. Or they can continue to sulk and then lose. Up to them.
This is a new format I'm trying as a way to bring everyone to quick speed about the Lakers upcoming opponent and so you know when the game starts so you can arrive on time for the chat. If you guys like it, we'll keep it. If you don't, well, I can just act like this never happened, kind of like how the Lakers want to treat their loss to Oklahoma City.
Team: Houston Rockets (36-35)
When: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. PDT (KCAL-9)
Record vs. Rockets this season: 2-1
Matchup history: Consider how the Lakers have done statistically against the Rockets this season compared to their season-long average in points (94, 102.4), The reason for that discrepancy isn't because of a dropoff in offense in each matchup, but really just a severe dropoff in the third game, a Lakers; 88-79 victory on Jan. 5. The Lakers featured a different cast of characters in each game. In a 103-102 overtime win Nov. 3 at Toyota Center, the Lakers secured the victory after guard Derek Fisher made a late-gave steal (Kobe Bryant's 41 points also helped). The Lakers lost 101-91 Nov. 15 at Staples Center, that featured the team shooting 38.1% and Bryant going five of 20. Interestingly, this loss came two days after losing 105-79 to Denver, meaning Houston isn't the best opponent to have for a rebound game. And in the Lakers' 88-79 victory Jan. 5 to Houston, efforts from Andrew Bynum (24 points and eight rebounds) and Lamar Odom (17 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists) helped make up for Bryant's aggravated index finger that resulted in a nine of 23 clip and Pau Gasol's absence because of a strained left hamstring
Outlook: The Rockets aren't the same team the Lakers met in last year's Western Conference semifinals that featured a seven-game series, a feisty Rockets team and an inconsistent Lakers. The Rockets' aren't just different because Trevor Ariza is with Houston and Ron Artest is with the Lakers. Houston isn't in playoff contention, so they may use other sources of motivation, such as wanting to unseat the defending champions and avoid their fourth consecutive loss for the first time since losing six in a row Nov. 13-23, 2007. Houston has also been plagued by injuries, including Shane Battier (hyperextended left knee) and Kevin Martin (sore left shoulder, has averaged 21.8 points in 17 games since he was acquired in a trade on Feb. 18), both whom are listed as day-to-day.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times