The gist: With two days to catch their breath, the Rockets go to Hollywood and take on a Lakers squad gasping for air after a 99-90 loss to the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant is looking forward to shrugging off a forgettable night where he went 6/28 (21.4%).
Key matchup: Luis Scola vs Pau Gasol
The “other” cogs of the failed Chris Paul trade will go out to one-up each other. While their offense is at par from previous seasons, both players have yet to fully assert themselves on the boards, Scola grabbing a shade below six rebounds a game (5.8) and Gasol less than his usual double-digit norms (8.7).
X-factor: Kyle Lowry
Coming off 18 assists and that sensational block on Jannero Pargo, Lowry, like Bryant, is trying to put a bad shooting game behind him. Fronted by Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, Lowry should outperform both playmakers but to do so, he must not give up the ball too much. He went for a combined 10 turnovers in the past two games.
Code Red: Andrew Bynum has been a beast on the glass, grabbing an average of 14.5 rebounds in his two games since his reinstatement. If Jordan Hill and Samuel Dalembert do not plant their feet and establish position, they will be in for a long night giving the Lakers more possessions and second chance points.
The NBA season is still young, barely walking, but like a toddler’s first check-up, some conclusions can already be drawn. The Miami Heat look like the rocket-fueled, jet pack wearing demolition robots we all thought they would be last season. The Mavs look like the reincarnation of the 2007 Heat. Ricky Rubio looks like he might actually earn some of the hype that has followed him halfway across the world, and Kyle Lowry looks like the truth.
Over his first four games, Houston’s baby-faced wonder is averaging 13 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2.5 steals. He is leading the league in assists, leading all point-guards in rebounds, and registering a 25.77 PER. While there’s only been an NBA for a week and these numbers represent a miniscule fraction (6%) of the total games to be crammed into this abbreviated season, I see no reason to view this as an aberration.
Non-Rockets fans following me on Twitter must think I suffer from ADD. At the news of any available star, over the past two-three years, I’ve immediately pounced, advocating that the Rockets pursue. So it goes in Rocketland – most here realize this team, more than anything, is desperately in need of either a star or someone with potential to become one.
(Most of the time, there surfaces some report of the Rockets’ interest in said disgruntled star; I’m almost expecting that to happen this time around, as well.)
It seems now, from reports, that the trade demand was made during a heated moment during a timeout. That certainly lessens the severity of the situation, though, one would have to think trouble is still brewing. It’s a situation that needs to be watched.
According to Sam Amick (via Twitter), Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has requested a trade. The Houston Rockets had been rumored two summers ago to have had serious interest in trading up in the draft to nab the skilled big man.
In Daryl Morey’s never-ending quest for a franchise cornerstone, will he now pounce? Cousins is troubled, but skilled bigs don’t grow on trees. I personally would offer the Kings everything on this roster except for Lowry.