Houston Rockets vs LA Lakers: 2017-18 Game 35: Five things to watch

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 17: Lonzo Ball (L)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 17: Lonzo Ball (L) /

The 25-9 Houston Rockets will close out the year at home once again against the 11-23 Los Angeles Lakers.  They’ve got a nasty taste in their mouth their 122-116 stinger and it’ll be revenge for our guys.

One of the more puzzling losses the Houston Rockets have had this season was against the Los Angeles Lakers who are up-and-coming but we’re surely a better team than they are.  It was a hard-fought, awesome game to watch from start to finish but the fact the team trailed for most of it was concerning back then.

The Houston Rockets will look to finally put this five-game losing streak to bed and seek revenge against a young team that likes to run.  Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball have been a delight to watch and with Chris Paul and Clint Capela back in the fold, I think everything will start clicking once again.

What will happen?  We shall see!  Happy New Year everybody!

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Lakers?

Kyle Kuzma is the team’s top scorer (17.7 PPG), Lonzo Ball grabs more boards (6.9 RPG) and doles out more dimes (7.1 APG) than anybody on the team.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leads in steals (1.7 SPG) and Brook Lopez is the team’s top shot blocker (1.6 BPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Lakers do well.

They’re pretty darn decent defenders.  The Lakers are 11th in defensive efficiency — tied with the Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz — allowing 104.5 points per 100 possessions.

They’re great at going for the second chance.  The Lakers are 8th in offensive rebound rate (24.0).  However, the Rockets did out-rebound them 12-10 back Dec. 20 in their last meeting.

They like to work quickly and keep the ball in their hands.  The Lakers are ranked 1st in PACE, averaging 104 possessions per game.

3.) Injuries:

James Harden bruised his right foot likely in Friday’s contest against the Washington Wizards.  He has been deemed as QUESTIONABLE for tonight.

Clint Capela bruised his left heel against the San Antonio Spurs Dec.15th and returned to the lineup against Oklahoma City Christmas Day. However, he took a elbow from Steven Adams back in third quarter of that game.  He now has right orbital bone fracture.  After missing a few more

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games, Clint Capela is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

Luc Mbah a Moute dislocated his shoulder Dec. 13th on a hard spill after a breakaway dunk a contest against the Charlotte Hornets, having to exit the game early and not return.  The MRI he had didn’t reveal any significant damage is still currently on track to return within the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully sooner than later as we need his presence off the bench.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is serving a 25-day jail sentence as a result of pleading guilty to a DUI charge earlier this year in March.  He was on a 12-month probation but he violated those terms and has been locked up.  He is allowed to play in Lakers’ home games but not travel out of the state when the team goes out on the road.  As a result, he’ll be out for tonight.

Source(s): Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Kyle Kuzma vs. Clint Capela
  2. Chris Paul vs. Lonzo Ball
  3. Trevor Ariza vs. Brandon Ingram

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5.) Prediction:

110-100 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are back at home to take on the Lakers at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T Sportsnet Southwest and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 207, XM/SiriusXM 86 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.