In what should have been something of a grudge match between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, we’re getting what has the chance of being a very one sided contest between the streaking Houston Rockets and a Los Angeles Lakers team that can stay healthy or stop losing.
The Lakers did beat the Rockets in Houston when the two teams met early in the season, but many things have changed since then. A lot of it has been injuries hurting the Lakers and making it very difficult for them to put on enough players to look like more than just a D-League team. They’re without Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks, with Steve Nash, who might actually be bad for them when he plays, is also on a day-to-day basis.
The Lakers have lost their last three games and are 5-16 since the beginning of 2014. Their lineups change from game to game because of injuries, but also because Mike D’Antoni is baffling in his decision making and his rotations. At this point in the season, it really doesn’t matter what he does: The team is lottery bound and there’s nothing much to do about it.
The Rockets are on a different course: Third in the West, winning their last seven games. Dwight Howard has his revenge shoes on, if only to show something to the Lakers fans about how better it is for him playing somewhere else, away from Kobe Bryant and the rest of everyone and everything that didn’t work out for him last season.
Howard is averaging 18.8 points and 12.5 rebounds thi season, but his recent form has been even more impressive, averaging 25.8 points in February. The Rockets are moving away from being a Harden-team only, which didn’t work too great for them when compared with the expectations, and looking a bit more like a team that goes with the hot hand and be a bit less predictable.
The Rockets beat the Lakers 113-99 when the teams met in January. James Harden had himself a blast with 38 points.
Predictions – The Rockets are better in every possible parameter than the Lakers, and it’s going to show, with the Lakers looking for their first home win since January 3.