Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 • 8:30 PM ET
Toyota Center • Houston, TX
National TV: ABC
Radio: 710 AM ESPN / 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 790 AM
After the tough loss against Brooklyn, the Houston Rockets face off against the Los Angeles Lakers on primetime tonight, hoping to get back to their winning ways. The Lakers are currently 8th in the West with a 25-21 record and a net rating of 1.13. Since Lebron went out with an injury, the Lakers haven’t looked the same. Surprisingly, the greatest basketball player in a generation has an effect on a team. However, on Thursday night, the Lakers got an incredible win against the 3rd best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While the Lakers have not been incredibly successful as of late, one of the things they are good at is defense, as they are sixth in the league in defensive rating. What propels their defense is blocks, for which they are fifth in the league with 5.6 blocks a game. Veteran Javale McGee is averaging a ridiculous 3.6 blocks per 36 minutes on the court and 2.3 blocks per game in general, which is the 4th best mark in the league. McGee is also averaging the third highest number of contested shots per 36 minutes at 19.6. Besides blocks, the Lakers force the fourth worst FG% for opponents per game, including the fifth worst 3-point percentage per game and a league worst eFG percentage per game. They also tally the second most defensive rebounds per game at 37 per night. Suffice it to say, their defense is solid.
- Establish some sort of interior defense.
Offensively, the Lakers are struggling. Without Lebron to carry major ball handling duties, the buck stops with youngsters like Lonzo Ball. In his second year, Ball has nearly mastered the art of passing.
Here, Lonzo beautifully works through the pick and finds Tyson Chandler for the flush. Since the Rockets have very little interior depth or presence, expect the Lakers to run slick Pick and Rolls to establish their inside game.
- Kyle Kuzma is a budding star and has been absolutely lighting it up this year. His ability to spot up has been deadly and his confidence is only growing. It will be critical to force him to take bad shots.
Things to Watch For:
- James Nunnally. While the Rockets fanbase waits to figure out the future of Danuel House, we also get to see the exciting addition of Nunnally. After starting a bit slow, he went 3-7 from deep last game including these two great shots.
- Eric Gordon’s minutes. After 21 minutes of solid play last game, Eric Gordon was ruled out for some continuing “knee soreness.” No one knows the extent of that injury or what that means moving forward. But we can all hope he returns back to playing 30 minutes a game for gems like this.
Prediction: Rockets 125, Lakers 100. I think this is a blowout from the start and the Rockets come out swinging and do not look back.