Lakers face Rockets as they continue to seek first road win

The Houston Rockets are off to a surprising 3-3 start this season.

The Lakers are currently 3-4 in the early stages of this season. 3-4 could be better but it’s not the abyss. But then you realize that all three wins have come in the comforts of their home court so maybe that’s not the greatest thing.

So the Lake Show continues to seek their first win on the road after failed attempts in Florida. Next on the itinerary is a stop at Houston, where the Rockets and their red glare reside.

The Rockets are still on the midst of a rebuild; they went 22-60 last season and 20-62 the year before that. But one of those 22 wins were on the expense of the Lakers so it’s not like this upcoming contest is going to be an easy win, either.

Ex-Celtics coach Ime Udoka has taken over the reins in Houston. The roster has also added a few veterans to add to their youthful roster. Fred VanVleet signed a big money deal after spending his NBA career in Canada; he was a huge part of the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors. Dillon Brooks, the one that made headlines for the wrong reasons in last year’s Lakers/Grizzlies first round series, will never stop talking and Houston signed him to a rich contract to add moxie and defensive toughness. He is off to a very strong start to the season. The ageless uncle Jeff Green came over from the champion Denver Nuggets.

The youth? They have five dudes that are 21 and younger. I’ll always root for Jalen Green since he has some Filipino blood in him. Alperen Şengün impressed last season, who had a career-best 33 points in their first match-up last season (by the way, LeBron scored 48 in that game). Jabari Smith, Jr. finished his rookie season on a very good note. I would like Amen Thompson in this level but he’s out with an ankle. Their other pick from last summer, 19-year-old Cam Whitmore, hasn’t seen much action thus far.

The Rockets were a wild, reckless team last season. Udoka has been able to pull his team back. Maybe pulled them all the way back as the team is last in pace in this young season. They’re also in the top half in the league in defense so far. Houston has actually won three in a row going into this contest, including impressive back-to-back wins against the Sacramento Kings. So this team is not to be taken lightly.

In the meantime, there is some good news in the Lakers’ health front. Anthony Davis hurt his hip against Miami but he’s actually listed as questionable so he shouldn’t be (key word: shouldn’t) out for too long. Jaxson Hayes is also questionable with an ankle ailment. The better news? Rui Hachimura has been cleared to play after missing a few games.

Other than getting run over a bit against Miami in the third quarter, the Lakers, more or less, played better in that game, falling short by a possession that was questioned by many Laker fans. Either way, it’s nice to see a bit of pep in the Lakers’ step last Monday. They didn’t fall behind in the first quarter, which is a good sign, and their defense (for most of their games, at least) seems to get better as the game goes on.

LeBron James is still taking on too much. Some of that is a product of being shorthanded (the Lakers have not enjoyed a good healthy season since their championship year) and some of that is not getting consistently great production from their supporting cast. Austin Reaves seems to have shaken off his slump, at least. And hopefully, Hachimura gets more PT now that he’s back in action.

This would normally be a trap game but the Lakers have been trapped in losing the past couple of games. If they show energy and effort like they did against Miami, they should be okay. It would help to have Anthony Davis for this game, though, especially since the Rockets don’t have a known rim protector. Either way, let’s see if the Lakers get back to .500.