Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Houston Rockets (24-15) vs Los Angeles Lakers (30-6)
Both teams are hot, coming off of 3 wins in a row and neither one has any intention to break the streak. Houston Rockets without McGrady have been playing surprisingly well just like last seasons performance without Yao. This proves that teams can survive without their star players when coached well and when playing good team ball.
Injuries will definitely hurt the Rockets in this game with having McGrady and Artest out. "Skip To My Lou" Rafer Alston will have to play well around the strong defensive that comes with playing against our boy D. Fish. The spark for the Rockets has been with Von Wafer. Wafer was almost taken out of the line-up but thankfully Houston kept him as he's been playing well, helping with filling in the injury gaps.
Aaron Brooks will be pushing strong coming off the bench and will test our depth. He's averaging 24 pts. in the last 3 games. Shane Battier will not pose a threat because he remains injury prone and seems to be trying to get his groove back. Who knows, this game might open the door of opportunity.
Now, to Houston's big men. Lets start with the Great Wall of China, Yao Ming. Yao, whose reputation in the league has been labeled as being too soft has been playing well but still not consistently. He will score in the double figures but will not utilize his height effectively by crashing the glass. When you're 7-6, you have to get more rebounds and more blocks...like Manute Bol! Yeah I said it, Manute friggin' Bol! Wait bad example, hmmm, Shawn Bradley, crap, another bad example. Are there any 7-6+ centers out there that pose a serious defensive threat anymore?
I think Luis Scola is currently the better big man of the two. Just give him the minutes and Scola will give you production.
Surprise player of the game will be Carl Landry. He will come off the bench and give key second shot opportunities.
Key Matchup - Luis Scola vs Russell Brand
I would usually pick Scola to win this battle of look-a-likes but today I have to side with Mr. Russell Brand. Come on, his hair alone gives him the height advantage. True, Scola can pick Brand up with one finger and eat his scrawny limbs with one horrific gulp but Russell can run around him with his Brit-Speed and rationalize him to death.
No but seriously, the deciding factor in this game will come down to how well each teams second string plays. The starters will do their usual thing but when it's time to rest them, the gaps will close in and the bench will ultimately decide the games outcome. Although the Lakers are the strongest on paper, the strongest on the court tomorrow night will end up winning their fourth game in a row.