Houston At L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM
ET, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Lakers hope to have one or two more players healthy after the All-Star break when they open the second half by hosting the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The Lakers limped into the break tied for the worst record in the Western Conference and with most of their better players in street clothes on the bench. One of those injured players, Kobe Bryant, watched Rockets’ guard James Harden take his starting spot in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Bryant is not close to a return from a knee injury but Pau Gasol, who missed the six games before the break with a groin strain, could be on the court Wednesday. Fellow former All-Star Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) is also day-to-day and could be ready to welcome former teammate Dwight Howard back to Los Angeles. Howard, who is enjoying an All-Star campaign in his first year with the Rockets, will be playing against the Lakers in Los Angeles for the first time since electing to leave the team in free agency over the summer. Houston has won seven consecutive games.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN Houston, TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (36-17): Howard already faced what was left of his former team twice in Houston but will get a taste of how Lakers fans feel about his rocky one-year tenure and abrupt departure when he takes the court on Wednesday. The move to the Rockets looks like the right decision for Howard, who is averaging 18.8 points and 12.5 rebounds while providing an anchor in the center of the offense and defense around which Houston’s plethora of outside threats can operate. One of those threats is Harden, who put up 35 points and provided the game-winning layup at the buzzer of a 113-112 triumph over the Washington Wizards in the final game before the All-Star break.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (18-35): Los Angeles put up a fight against the conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder with only eight healthy players prior to the break and can at least take pride in the effort the players on the court continue to show. The 107-103 setback marked the seventh straight home loss for the Lakers, the longest home losing streak in team history, but Kendall Marshall collected 14 points, matched his career high of 17 assists and grabbed seven rebounds to provide the fans with some excitement. The poor record has led to several trade rumors, with Gasol's name being thrown around the most.
1. Howard averaged 17.5 points on 41.7 percent shooting and 13.5 rebounds in the first two games against the Lakers.
2. Los Angeles C Chris Kaman posted three straight double-doubles while starting in place of Gasol before the break.
3. Houston G Patrick Beverley (abdominal strain) sat out the final game before the All-Star break and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Rockets 115, Lakers 106
Stats and Records
L.A. Lakers Off vs
100.5 Points For
101.4 Points Against