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Five things to watch in Lakers-Houston matchup

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1. Will the Lakers come out with more energy?

The stakes against Houston (5-12) Wednesday night aren't as high as when the Lakers hosted the Rockets in a nail-biting, hair-wrenching seven-game series in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. But it's rare for the Lakers (13-5) to lose three consecutive games and even rarer for the team to lose four straight, the last time happening in April 2007.

It's very difficult to draw definitive big-picture conclusions in the first quarter of the season, namely because there are so many more games to go. It's not a stretch to argue that tonight's game bodes importance simply so the Lakers can stop the damage being done in the past week. A Lakers win or loss won't severely help or worsen their current struggles, but prolonged losing will yield higher scrutiny, exposing team frustrations it may have been able to minimize.

 Fortunately for the Lakers, they face the Rockets (5-12), who have lost their past four games against the Lakers in Toyota Center.

2. The Lakers won't have to worry about defending speedy guard Aaron Brooks.

That should bring some solace to Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, who were repeatedly exposed by Memphis guard Mike Conley, Indiana guards Darren Collison and T.J. Ford and Utah guard Deron Williams in the Lakers' past three losses. As much as some want to bag on Fisher, most if not all of his defensive lapses are partly rooted in the team itself not helping him out on screen and rolls and in double teams. Considering Brooks burned the Lakers for 24 points on seven-of-16 shooting in the season opener, his continuous absence because of a sprained left ankle should make the Lakers' defensive responsibility easier this time around.

That doesn't mean, however, this warrants them a day off. Aside from the obvious want to hone in on their rotations, the Lakers should also be aware of Houston guard Kyle Lowry, who has averaged 7.3 assists since replacing Brooks at the point. Brooks plays with more quickness, but Lowry is still tenacious and can expose the Lakers' poor D with his playmaking abilities. 

3. Shane Battier vs. Kobe Bryant always features a chess match.

Battier, the No Stats All-Star, enters any contest against Bryant knowing he won't fully limit him, but he'll consider it a job well done if he makes him work for his points and his production comes at the expense of everyone else. As much pleasure as Bryant has gotten out of this matchup over the years, he needs to stop falling into that trap. With the Lakers lacking much offensive rhythm and ball movement, the last thing the team can afford is Bryant resorting into his score-at-all-costs mode. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson pinned that imbalance on his teammates as well, saying they're responsible for passing the ball to Bryant. Lakers fans long argue whether these instances point to Bryant's scoring mentality, team passivity or a combination of both. Frankly, it all depends on what is happening in each game. The mechanics are rather simple: When Bryant has the hot hand, let him ride it out. When his shots aren't falling, it's time to switch from isolation to the triangle.

4. Lamar Odom may need to produce more.Don't take this the wrong way. Odom has played consistently, has played heavy minutes with Pau Gasol during Andrew Bynum's absence and has never used the soreness in his right foot as an excuse. But with Gasol becoming more and more visibly tired, Odom might be the solution in easing the workload off him. It's not particularly fair to Odom, but it's probably the most practical, considering Derrick Caracter has shown a tremendous learning curve.

5. Will the Lakers go small?With Yao Ming remaining absent from the lineup and the team's desire to rest Gasol, this might be a feasible option. Jackson has at times played Ron Artest and Matt Barnes at power forward, but that takes away the Lakers' post presence. The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen remarks that strategy could give the Rockets fits in playing Brad Miller and Jordan Hill off the bench. That lineup could also make it easier to guard Kevin Martin, who's shot only 30.8% in his past four games but lit up the Lakers in the season opener with 26 points.

I also talk about the Lakers with Don Best TV's Pat Williams in the video below.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom tries to keep his balance as he looks for a teammate after beating Rockets center Brad Miller to a rebound in the Lakers' season opener on Oct. 26. Odom was called for a foul on the play. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

 
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I'm sorry but I now take the power back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is going to be an utter and complete blowout of Houston by the Lakers!!!!

Kobe I want you to take a shot anytime you feel like it!! If it's all night it's all right!! Activate the Black Mamba!!!

Yes.

6. What vodka will be drunk tonight? Yesterday was Stoli 100, but with the loss, I cannot abide having it again. So tonight it might either be Luksusowa, or Bogorodskaya.

Kobe to hell with making your team mates better! Let them make the Black Mamba better!!! Which would you want, a better Ron Ron or a Better Black Mamba? I mean really! TRULY!!!

6. What vodka will be drunk tonight? Yesterday was Stoli 100, but with the loss, I cannot abide having it again. So tonight it might either be Luksusowa, or Bogorodskaya. Posted by: 63 Footer | December 01, 2010 at 04:00 PM
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WTH? LET'S DRINK ALL OF THEM!!!!!

mamba24 - two great minds with but a single thought. That was the conclusion I was coming to. This PROVES the Lakers will be in sync tonight.

While traveling for Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to watch the Lakers play in Utah last Friday. I sat and observed Andrew for over 40 minutes during shootaround prior to warmups. And I have to say, he IS ready to play. I don't understand what the hold-up is, especially considering the heavy minutes Pau is accumulating. He was working with Shaw, and was making lateral movements and cuts and I saw close-up absolutely no limitations. I know I don't have all the information, but really, Phil is frustrated too. He should be out there playing at least spelling Pau some important minutes and providing a body out there.

If this were Kobe in the exact same situation, Kobe would have been playing since the beginning of the season. Oh yeah, wait, Kobe and AB are pretty much in the same situation, and Kobe has been playing since day 1 of exhibition.

I think it is showing right now that the rest of the team is carrying AB's load. It's time for him to step up and be a man.

mamba24 - two great minds with but a single thought. That was the conclusion I was coming to. This PROVES the Lakers will be in sync tonight.
Posted by: 63 Footer | December 01, 2010 at 04:10 PM
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Yes sir! And since you can't bear the Stoli anymore you can just pass that bad boy right on over here 63 footer! LOL!

63 - seriously - I want to party with you. You totally have the good stuff.... :)

63 - seriously - I want to party with you. You totally have the good stuff.... :)
Posted by: justanothermambafan | December 01, 2010 at 04:19 PM
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Just remember. all things in moderation!!! LOL

If this were Kobe in the exact same situation, Kobe would have been playing since the beginning of the season. Oh yeah, wait, Kobe and AB are pretty much in the same situation, and Kobe has been playing since day 1 of exhibition. I think it is showing right now that the rest of the team is carrying AB's load. It's time for him to step up and be a man. Posted by: Long Live Chick | December 01, 2010 at 04:17 PM
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Although I am one of Andrews biggest supporters, Chick when you put it like that ...it makes perfect sense.

mamba24 - be careful what you wish for, that Stoli 100 is subtle, as it's so smooth that it creeps up on you and hits you upside the head when you least expect it. (Generally my kind of vodka.)

justa - I think a Lakers blog game-watching party with vodka should be in order at some time for all who can get here. BYOV. (Then we can all mix-and-match our vodka.)

@MM - Kobe's shot count is a classic case of which came first the chicken or the egg. Does he shoot more because his mates are playing passive? or do they get passive after he's firing away?
Posted by: LRob | December 01, 2010 at 04:06 PM
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Who cares! He's Kobe Freakin Bryant, the baddest BBaller on the planet!! The rest can either get with the program or take their sorry behinds to the bench!! Enough of this nice, touchy feely crap! This is the Black Mamba's team! Not Phil's team. Not Pau's team. Not Dfish's team. This is Kobe Freakin Bean Bryants team and if he wants to shoot, he can shoot!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: mamba24 | December 01, 2010 at 04:14 PM
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Sounds like a plan. Only 676 pts away from passing Hondo,Ice, Nique, Big O and Dream and climbing into 10th place in all-time NBA/ABA scoring. Fire away!

LRob - "Sounds like a plan. Only 676 pts away from passing Hondo,Ice, Nique, Big O and Dream and climbing into 10th place in all-time NBA/ABA scoring."

Theoretically, that only 8.345679 games for Kobe.

DJ after this huge Lakers win tonight I want you to get back to work on getting that contract done! My motto is give the people what they want and what they want is D(erek) J(eter) a Yankee for Life. Therefore no Stoli for you tonight and since you won't be drinking I'll take your share of it.

Mamba24,

Don't get me wrong, I also am a huge AB fan, but it is time he put aside his fear and paranoia, and PLAY!!!

mud -

Thanks for the link! Is your band playing later in Dec? I checked out the websites, and it didn't have links as to when you were performing. I'll come check it out when I'm back in Cali in 2 weeks.

mamba24 - be careful what you wish for, that Stoli 100 is subtle, as it's so smooth that it creeps up on you and hits you upside the head when you least expect it. (Generally my kind of vodka.)Posted by: 63 Footer | December 01, 2010 at 04:23 PM
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You know that sounds like Justa. Subtle but smooth and creeps up on you and hit's you upside the head when you least expect it! TRULY!!!!!!!!

Don't get me wrong, I also am a huge AB fan, but it is time he put aside his fear and paranoia, and PLAY!!! Posted by: Long Live Chick | December 01, 2010 at 04:26 PM
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Chick you'll get no arguement from me sir!

Is there any combination of porous defense and offensive inefficiency that will result in reduced Fisher minutes?

Caliphilosopher-
as of now, we're taking the rest of the month off after this Dec 3rd show. Christmas is a bad time for entertainment. it's always possible, though. otherwise, maybe next year...

there's an album coming out early next year.

Random Thoughts...

Championship teams don't lose 4 in a row! In the last 11yrs only 04 Pistons and 06 Heat had 4 game losing streaks (Pistons was prior to getting Rasheed and Miami was without Shaq). In that span the 5 other title teams max losing streak was 3 games and 4 other champs was 2 games.


Is it me or does Kevin Martin score the most meaningless points in the NBA??? It just doesn't seem like he plays winning basketball. Clearly a case where stats are misleading


Don't try to back down Chuck Hayes. Dude is the unmovable object. Just turn and shoot over him.


Don't go for Scola's head fakes.


Double dip for me tonight. Lakers vs. Rockets and Spartans vs. #1 Dukies...ugggh!


On another note, the Globetrotters are going to unveil a 4 point shot 12 feet in back of the 3 point line. I would love to see the NBA do this, maybe 15-20 feet in back of the three point line.

I think Kobe would be more of an assassin at the end of games with that extra weapon. No lead would be safe for the opposition.

any thoughts?

mud -

keep me updated on the LP so I can cop that thing. Perhaps you could sell an MP3 version for those who are disinclined to pay the shipping fees to the UK...

Is there any combination of porous defense and offensive inefficiency that will result in reduced Fisher minutes? Posted by: Todd | December 01, 2010 at 04:32 PM
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Now, now, now. Just sit back and behold. Derek Fisher will make all of Laker Nation proud tonight!!!! He may not be the fastest, he may not be the flashiest, but when the chips are down I'll take DFish. In fact I'll take all my Lakers over any other players. Yes, Yes, yes! That includes Sasha & Luke also.

I think Kobe would be more of an assassin at the end of games with that extra weapon. No lead would be safe for the opposition. any thoughts? Posted by: Long Live Chick | December 01, 2010 at 04:34 PM
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I think so too! But who would really kill with that is Magic & Larry Bird!

Oh yeah...song of the day goes to...drum roll pls

Lots of great stuff from Floyd to Beck to Satchmo to Cold Play, and I really like that OneRepublic...but the song of the day goes to 63 Footer selection of Old Blue Eyes...That's Life.


I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king...

Carry on!

"Is there any combination of porous defense and offensive inefficiency that will result in reduced Fisher minutes?

Posted by: Todd | December 01, 2010 at 04:32 PM "

Reduced minutes yes, especially if he is picking up fouls. But his starting role is untouchable.

Mamba24 - HEY! I've never been accused of being subtle before, and rarely do I creep up on anyone. But, the smacking upside the head part does sound suspiciously like me.... :)


63 - great idea! Make it so.


Caliphilosopher-
sure! there'll be mp3 versions on CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. why don't you send an email to [email protected] or just "like" the facebook page and i'll send info when the time comes....thanks!

We need a Big Man Now!

Mitch do your Job or get OUT!

Jerry West, please UnRetire!!!!

If Video Game Bynum Doesn't play by Christmas Day, Trade him for a box of Chiclets on the Tijuana Border,

BandWagon!!!!

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king...
Posted by: LRob | December 01, 2010 at 04:38 PM
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SING LROB, SING IT!!!!!!

Mr Laker (sounding like hobbitmage or maybe you are). Another Bynum basher either way.


"The problem with this team is that we don't have any quality bangers in the middle. Is this Drew's fault? Yes and No. He got a ridiculous high contract and the Lakers expected assumed the young warrior would step up and dominate the middle. He kept crying that he wanted a Max deal that he was full of potential and that he was going to be the Next Great in along line of dominate Laker Centers. !!!NOT!!!"


BYNUM is a beast. He is a dominant big, everything the Lakers does not have right now is in there in Bynum. Take it and swallow it.

HEY! I've never been accused of being subtle before, and rarely do I creep up on anyone. But, the smacking upside the head part does sound suspiciously like me.... :)Posted by: justanothermambafan | December 01, 2010 at 04:39 PM
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And people wonder why I am so proud to have this woman as head of the Mamba Clan. SWEET JESUS!!!

Now I think they’re all going to pack into a single room since their ranks have shrunken from a ship of fools to a rowboat without oars. - LT

My friend you have a way of words that even a nocturnal animal will get awakened and feel the sting when you lump them into your categories. I'm sure those ship of fools you are referring at are not Bynum fans. You asked one time why are u a lightning rod? That phrase above provides the answer. AZ, EX, MT, KL, who else? Have fun in blogging just keep on truckin'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pafY6sZt0FE

BYNUM is a beast. He is a dominant big, everything the Lakers does not have right now is in there in Bynum. Take it and swallow it. Posted by: Staples 24 | December 01, 2010 at 04:46 PM
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OOOOOOOOH WEEEEEEE!!!! PREACH STAPLES24, PREACH!!!!!

justa - I'll have to look into a hotel near Staples that has meeting rooms. We can all get our pictures taken at the Jerry West statue, then go over and watch the game (I'm sure they'd roll a couple of big screen TV's in). That could be cool, and fairly low priced for everyone involved.

mud - do let us know here; I'd like to get a copy.

Have fun in blogging just keep on truckin' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pafY6sZt0FE Posted by: Edwin Gueco | December 01, 2010 at 04:47 PM
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Very good sir!! : http://tinyurl.com/2w4ndsd - Eddie Kendricks _ keep on Truckin

I am no one but myself!

I only call it as I see it!

Do we need a Big in the middle?

IS Drew Big? Yes!

But if he only plays about half the time-what is the Freaking Point!

We need someone to absorb Contact in the middle, alter a few shots, and get about ten or eleven rebounds in the paint, No need to worry about points, Kobe will take care of that!

Any SEVEN-footer off the Reject list will do that for us.

Trade the Albatross Before It's Too Late,

BandWagon!!!

Kobe should score 18 to 22 pts with 6 assists and Lakers will win tonight. This team is so talented there is no need for Kobe to take too many shots. Lakers are 8-0 when Gasol and Odom are involved and are the focus of the offense. Gasol does not look tired he looks disinterested with Kobe playing a one man show.


If at all Kobe should rest, the killer B's plays very well with G and O.


Kobe should play with Walton and Sasha, so he can take all the shots he wants.

Kobe should play with Walton and Sasha, so he can take all the shots he wants.
Posted by: Staples 24 | December 01, 2010 at 04:53 PM
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Now see, you started off so well. And then, and then you go and ruin it! LMAO!

OMG, that one 3 by UPS was deep last night!
Though he def is letting this slump get in his head at this point.

Very good sir!! : http://tinyurl.com/2w4ndsd - Eddie Kendricks _ keep on Truckin


Posted by: Mamba24 | December 01, 2010 at 04:53 PM
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Now you know that brought a smile to my face.

Now you know that brought a smile to my face. Posted by: LRob | December 01, 2010 at 05:00 PM
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But I had a heck of a time cleaning all the Dust off of it. lol!

Wilt was one of the greatest big men of all time and he had 5 seasons under 73 games and 3 seasons under 40 games. T Duncan had 4 seasons under 70 games, P Ewing had 6 seasons under 70 games, James Edwards had 14 seasons under 70 games, averaging about 45 games, Bob Lanier had 9 seasons under 70 games, Maurice Lucas had 10 seasons under 70 games and only one season in the NBA with 80 games, Mutombo had 8 seasons under 70 games, Shaq has had 13 seasons under 70 games, Olajuwan had 7 seasons under 70 games and most under 60 games, Willis Reed had 3 out of 7 seasons under 70 games and 2 under 20 games.

big guys get hurt.

LakerJ,


"But if he only plays about half the time-what is the Freaking Point!"


The freaking point is Kobe and Odom injured BYNUM for TWO MAJOR SURGERIES. Not Bynum's fault Kobe ran on Bynum's knee, not Bynum's fault if Odom stick his foot under Bynum's landing space trying to out rebound Bynum? Still, Bynum's progress has been excellent YEAR AFTER YEAR. So, what is your problem?


Bynum risk his career playing injured in the Finals, so what is your problem dude?

Bynum risk his career playing injured in the Finals, so what is your problem dude? Posted by: Staples 24 | December 01, 2010 at 05:07 PM
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Easy Staples24, Easy.

Mr Laker,


"We need a Big Man Now!
Mitch do your Job or get OUT!"


You talking about Mitch, MITCH? Let's see who has he brought so far in this current LAKERS roster when it was only Kobe, Odom and Bynum in 2007.


Gasol, Ariza, Brown, Fisher, Artest, Barnes, Blake,Ebanks, Caracter and 3 STRAIGHT NBA FINALS!!!!


Who has he let go... Kwame, Smush, Cook,Radman...


Mitch has done an excellent job.


With Devin Harris out tonight Farmar is doing his thing. 11pts (5 of 7 fg) and 3asst at halftime. I get the feeling Avery really likes Jordan. Despite his shooting woes Avery plays him during crunch time nearly every game.

Mitch has done an excellent job. Posted by: Staples 24 | December 01, 2010 at 05:17 PM
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Now you're talking! PREACH STAPLES24, PREACH!!!!!!

With Devin Harris out tonight Farmar is doing his thing. 11pts (5 of 7 fg) and 3asst at halftime. I get the feeling Avery really likes Jordan. Despite his shooting woes Avery plays him during crunch time nearly every game. Posted by: LRob | December 01, 2010 at 05:17 PM
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Now that is good to hear! Thank you very much sir!

What with all the big talk? Laker was losing wide Open . Oh, Houston is the Bomb!!


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