The wrong time for the Los Angeles Lakers to meet a team like the Houston Rockets. No Kobe Bryant, while Pau Gasol and Steve Nash look terrible. On the other end, their great nemesis Dwight Howard seems to be enjoying himself quite a lot playing next to James Harden, Jeremy Lin and a team where he doesn’t seem to be a social pariah on.
The Lakers might have had a surprising win over the Clippers to start the season, but it’s hard to say anyone is pleased with they way they’ve been playing. They’ve looked really bad in the losses on the road to the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks, with their defense turning out to be as bad as everyone thought it might turn out to become.
Xavier Henry is their pleasant surprise, scoring 12.4 points per game, but the team is shooting a very bad 41.7% from the field, as Steve Nash’s second year on the team looks worse than the first one, averaging only 6.5 points per game while shooting 28.1% from the field.
All their other additions: Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson and more aren’t doing too badly, but these are role players thrust into a bad situation. Pau Gasol is the team’s best player but is struggling to live up to the expectations and life without Kobe Bryant playing next to him, while the defense is giving up 109 points per game.
Three point shooting teams have a great time against the Lakers, and the Rockets, at 4-1, are rubbing their hands in delight. They’re scoring 109.4 points per game this season, and seem to have an advantage over the Lakers at every position. Dwight Howard might be slightly fired up to show what his previous team is missing, although it’s not going to be exactly a revenge game without Kobe Bryant on the floor.
The Rockets are slightly disappointing with their outside shooting, hitting just over 34% from beyond the arc, as James Harden insists on taking tough shot after tough shot, so far hitting only 26.5% of his attempts. By going to the line (8 attempts per game) he finds it much easier to score, averaging 25.2 points per game.
Jeremy Lin might be having up and down games in terms of usage and explosiveness, but he’s looking a bit more comfortable as a spot up shooter but still getting more time with the ball than last season. He’s leading the team with 4.4 assists per game, knocking down 42.9% of his three point attempts so far.
Prediction – Not a really fair fight, as the Lakers looked destined to get pummeled on the boards and their defense to struggle if the Rockets keep things simple, keep going to their pick & roll and don’t try too many crazy things from the outside.