Lakers take on Houston Rockets for first time this season

Lakers will try to stop their three-game losing streak.

The Lakers just had an excruciating loss on Sunday night. They have a chance to move on from it quickly as they face a Houston Rockets team that are seemingly in a never-ending losing streak (they’ve lost 10 straight games).

You can easily make the case that Houston is tanking to get the best odds for Victor Wenbanyama. But that’s for June. This is January 16th. And on that day, they are 10-33. The Rockets’ last win? December 26th against the Bulls. Merry Christmas!

The Rockets are a very young and inexperienced team. Only two players are older than 27 and one of them doesn’t even play regularly (we all love Boban Marjanovic but he doesn’t get to see the court much). And outside of Boban and Eric Gordon, none of them have more than three years under their belt.

So it’s not surprising that the Rockets have the worst record in the league. There’s no clear direction on where the team is going except we know it’s not going up. And it’s just a bad NBA squad.

Rockets are last in offensive rating, third worst in defensive rating, second worst in net rating (that’s offensive rating minus defensive rating), allowing the most fast break points, second worst in points per game, the worst in field goal percentage, third worst in three-point percentage (yes, worse than the Lakers), second worst in true shooting percentage (where three-pointers and free throws account in shooting percentage), and commit the most turnovers per game. If you want to put it plainly, they suck.

Of course, they have some talent; they wouldn’t be in the NBA if they were some randoms that walked onto the court. Jalen Green is a high-flyer of the highest magnitude and leads the team in scoring (21.5 points per game). Kevin Porter, Jr. has always had talent and has stayed out of trouble since he left the Cavs. Jabari Smith, Jr. was the third pick last summer and is getting to play immediately in this rebuilding team. And Alperen Sengun has been somewhat of a hidden gem (14.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per) as he’s playing very well yet tucked away in Houston. Eric Gordon, in his 15th year, is still serviceable as a starting two.

But Houston is just going through the motions. They haven’t won in three weeks. And they may have decided that the next draft is going to save them.

So this is what the Lakers should do: jump on them early and get it over with. I’ve already brought up their problems against the Sixers. If the Lakers let them hang around, I fear that with their notoriously bad late-game execution, they might let another one get away. And it’s not like the Lakers are the only team on a back-to-back; the Rockets are, too (they lost big to the Clippers). Even if LeBron James is questionable as of this writing, this team should still be able to beat Houston.

The Sixers loss may have stung but in the end, it’s still one loss. Still, the Lakers need to win to keep up with the rest of the wacky Western Conference. We know some teams are going to lose but they can’t keep depending on the rest of the conference to help them. Just help themselves and they’ll be better off.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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