Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers

The NBA is back in tinsel town as James Harden's Houston Rockets take on LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference action on Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 PM EST at Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA. Broadcast is available on TNT; radio available via 710 AM ESPN / 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES and 790 AM.

How to Watch

What: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Where: Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA

When: Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TNT | 710 AM ESPN / 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 790 AM

Houston Rockets (Away)

Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni {All-Time 608-494 | DEN, PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets enter this matchup with the Lakers fifth int he Western Conference and a mere game behind the Portland Trail Blazers in the table. They will hope their mid-season acquisitions and healthy team will spur them to a top four finish.

Before the All-Star Break the Houston Rockets lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but were on the positive end of a 6-4 record over their last ten matches. Their loss to the Wolves was more a result of the Rockets only being able to play eight players, but overall showed an impressive willingness to compete.

The Rockets will be taking on a Lakers team that is hungry to get back into the playoff picture. While the Lakers are not as strong of a team overall, the Rockets are working to include a new piece in Iran Shumpert. The Rockets have now unloaded five players that they signed this offseason and are clearly focused on having a competitive roster.

Los Angeles Lakers (Home)

Head Coach: Luke Walton {All-Time 89-132 | LAL}

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a precarious position entering the latter half of the NBA season. With a record of 28-29 the Lakers are currently out of the playoff picture in a conference too competitive to let too many games slip away.

The Lakers were on a poor streak before the All-Star Game. Injuries abound, the Lakers posted a 3-7 record in their last ten before the break as they were unable to compete. While they lost to formidable teams in the Rockets, Warriors, Pacers, and Sixers, no solace can be taken from their tough competition as it predicts their performances should they make the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Lakers famously did nothing at the trade deadline and thus put a great deal of faith in the Lakers roster and on the shoulders of LeBron James. James has nothing to prove, but a playoff-less season in his first years of the last portion of his career would be damaging. The Lakers have their own injuries but will need to show some sort of promise to make it back into the race.

What's At Stake?

The Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers have met a number of times as Western Conference rivals. In the all-time series the Lakers lead the Rockets 114-77.

A win for the Lakers would push them to .500 but leave them tenth in the Western Conference.

A win for the Rockets would bring them within half a game of fourth place and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Questions to answer

Will the Rockets' overhaul be successful?

Do the Lakers have it in them to make a run?

We are going to compare the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Rockets Let Go of Five Players

Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, James Ennis III, Michael Carter-Williams, and Carmelo Anthony all share something in common with each other. All five were signed in the 2018 NBA Offseason and all five were let go by the Houston Rockets in one fashion or another.

In total the Rockets got rid of five different players to bring in Iman Shumpert. If anything is true it is that the Rockets are going all-in on the playoffs this season and they have no need for spare parts.

They will need to integrate Shumpert quickly as well as attack the buyout market for more talent. Shumpert is a solid 3-and-D player but they still have deficiencies in versatility in the front court. They lost out on Markieff Morris to the Thunder, but will surely be diligent in the coming weeks to shore up their talent pool.

The Lakers Are Tenth In the West

The clock is ticking for the Los Angeles Lakers. They have been riddled with injuries yes, but a team lead by LeBron James, coached by Luke Walton, and managed by Magic Johnson should have more to show than a sub-.500 record.

Brandon Ingram seems to have the right idea: “We have 25 games just to wash (this last loss) out and just be better, and just think about the playoffs, think about how we can lock in each game and how much each game counts.” Ingram is right, as the Lakers don't have an easy road ahead of them.

In their last 25 matches the Lakers will be facing ten plus-.500 teams, without the services of point guard Lonzo Ball for a good portion of that schedule. Should the Lakers make the playoffs they'll be hard pressed to make noise in the first round, but if the trade deadline debacle was something to see an offseason without playoff basketball for Lakers may be an absolute storm.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

C Clint Capela - 14 feb 2019 - Out (Right Thumb) - Capele could return for the Rockets first game after the All-Star break on Feb. 21 according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

G Austin Rivers - 12 Feb 2019 - Day To Day (Elbow) - Rivers did not play in Wednesday's (Feb 13) game.

Los Angeles Lakers Roster Notes

G Lonzo Ball - 14 Feb 2019 - Out (Left Ankle) - Ball has not been able to go through any on-court work which could put his original 4-6 week timetable in jeopardy according to Bill Oram of The Athletic.

C Tyson Chandler - 12 Feb 2019 - Day To Day (Toe) - Chandler has been ruled OUT for Tuesday's (Feb 12) game.

G Josh Hart - 11 Feb 2019 - Out (Right Knee Tendinitis) - Hart will be OUT until after the All-Star break.

Head-to-Head: Chris Paul (HOU) vs Rajon Rondo (LAL)

Chris Paul

Point Guard | 6-0, 175lb (183cm, 79kg) | Wake Forest | Exp. 13 Years

15.6 PPG | 8.0 APG | 4.1 RPG | 2.1 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 2.8 TOV | .419 FG% | .351 3P%

Rajon Rondo

Point Guard | 6-1, 186lb (185cm, 84kg) | Kentucky | Exp. 12 Years

8.9 PPG | 7.6 APG | 5.1 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 2.6 TOV | .443 FG% | .423 3P%

Is it 2010 again? Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo are the key players in this matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers. While Paul will be responsible for keeping new acquisitions integrated, Rondo will be tasked with filling the Lakers' current hole at point guard.

It took a while for Paul to get acclimated but he seems back to 100% since his early season injury. Since his return he's averaged 18 points and 9.1 assists and the Rockets are 5-4 overall. With Iran Shumpert in the lineup the Rockets have one more player to integrate but Paul will need to continue his offensive production on top of keeping the new acquisition involved.

In the Lakers last game before the break coach Luke Walton opted to start with no traditional point guard in the lineup, choosing to lead the line with LeBron Jams as a psued-point. The problem for the Lakers was that they had no defence at the point of attack and they lost 117-113 to the lowly Hawks. Rondo was solid in that game posting 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block and steal in 33 minutes. A stout defender, Rondo is sure to play an even bigger role against the high-octane offence of the Rockets.

Houston Rocekts at Los Angeles Lakers Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Houston Rockets favoured over the Los Angeles Lakers by 2.5, with an over/under of 110.

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