The Houston Rockets, fresh off a major trade, are on the road on Thursday night to take on the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers. Houston was part of a large four-team deal late Tuesday night that will rob it of some depth until everything shakes out.
Make sure you keep PJ Tucker in your thoughts. He’s feeling okay, but he has to guard JaVale McGee Thursday night. Over the last several games, Houston has been playing him as the starting center, with four guards around him.
He is listed at 6-5, making it even crazier than when 6-6 Chuck Hayes would play center in relief of the 7-6 Yao Ming in the 2000s. The Rockets’ new additions are not likely going to be ready for this game, so it will be added pressure on the regulars.
For the Lakers, it is unclear if the roster will look the same for this game after the day Thursday. Truly anything can happen on trade deadline day, and Marcus Morris would well be a Laker by the end of the day. The Lakers could move Kyle Kuzma, or opt to keep him around through at least the end of the season.
Los Angeles is all covered with its big men being one of the best groups in the entire NBA. Anthony Davis and LeBron James have continued to tear it up each and every night.
The Lakers are seven-point favorites in Thursday night’s game, with the over/under set at 234 points.
It is hard to compare what Houston is doing to anything we have ever seen. Even when Draymond Green would play center for Golden State, the Warriors still had 6-6 and 6-7 wing players in the game around him. At 6-6, Danuel House Jr. is the tallest player in the Rockets’ starting lineup until 6-7 Robert Covington is ready to officially re-join the team he opened his career with.
We’ll see what they can do in this one, but Mike D’Antoni has been shy about playing his backup centers over the last month. Isaiah Hartenstein has had a few good performances, while Tyson Chandler hasn’t really seen the floor much in his 19th year in the league.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are truly going to need to create a new definition of go off in this one as they try and lead Houston to the win. Both of them will need big performances to lift the short-handed Rockets to the victory.
Back To The Grind
After getting their emotional first game since Kobe Bryant’s passing out of the way last Friday, the Lakers have played well. They have gone 2-0 in their last two and are looking to make it three straight. Every game counts at this point as they try to keep the surging Clippers and Nuggets away from them in the standings.
Home-court would not matter much in a Clippers playoff series, but ensuring home-court against any and all teams will give Los Angeles a great chance to help James make his ninth NBA Finals trip in the past 10 years.
The Lakers have shooters at every position, and Dwight Howard cleaning up any and all misses when he comes in off the bench. They should be just fine, trade or not.
Rockets Get Blown Out
This will be another win for the Lakers, who continue to shine. Los Angeles moves to 39-11 and is still just getting started.
Free Play: LAL -7
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