The Los Angeles Lakers will embark on a difficult five-game road trip, starting it off by taking on James Harden and the Houston Rockets with both teams coming off losses.
The Lakers will be looking to shake off the rust from their recent loss to the Orlando Magic. Meanwhile, the Rockets will try to erase back-to-back losses against fringe playoff teams in the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers do have some type of excuse as they’ve been without Anthony Davis for four games now and the Magic took advantage of that with their athletic and lengthy bigs. As Davis was a true game-time decision against the Rockets, he will miss his fifth consecutive game.
In more detail regarding the team’s injuries, Alex Caruso is probable to play after suffering a head injury early in the Magic game. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo practiced in full on Friday, but will not play. As for the Rockets, they will be without Austin Rivers.
This is the first meeting between the Lakers and Rockets during the 2019-20 NBA season and for both teams, getting a win would be huge given the circumstances.
The Lakers need this win because they want to avoid dropping two games in a row and with how difficult the upcoming road trip is going to be, it would be a real momentum killer to start it off with a loss. Hopefully, the loss against the Magic refocused them and motivated them for this game.
The Rockets could desperately use a win because they’ve struggled recently. They’ve lost three of their last five, with all three losses being by double digits to teams that are currently seventh, eighth, and 10th in the Western Conference standings. Those losses dropped them all the way to fifth with Dallas Mavericks tied with them.
Beating the team with the best record in the conference at home in a primetime game would be massive in terms of confidence moving forward, so the Rockets may have some extra fight in them.
For the Lakers to win, they’ll need to take advantage of the size they have. Besides Clint Capela, the only size the Rockets have are Nene and Tyson Chandler as well as Isaiah Hartenstein, who has scored in double digits just three times this season.
Then on the perimeter, they’ll need some type of scheme to keep Harden off the free-throw line and force him to score the old-fashioned way. If they can do that, the Lakers have the pieces to beat the Rockets — with or without Davis in the lineup.
Los Angeles Lakers (33-8) vs. Houston Rockets (26-14)
5:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 18, 2020
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
TV: ABC, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Quinn Cook
Projected Rockets Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: James Harden
SF: Ben McLemore
PF: P.J. Tucker
C: Clint Capela
Key Reserves: Eric Gordon, Danuel House, Isaiah Hartenstein, Nene, Tyson Chandler