Fresh off a win with the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers march onwards with a new general out on the battlefield with them. What has felt like a drama that has strung us all along for weeks comes to an end with Mike D'Antoni raising the Lakers' purple and gold banner up on the sidelines as they face the Houston Rockets. While the Lakers dominated headlines over the Summer, the Rockets made waves despite missing their number 1 target; Dwight Howard.
Adding Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to their roster screamed Morey-ball. Playing the advanced statistics and adding players that should do well when asked to do the specific tasks they excel at is what the man who pores over the stats does. Then, Houston went ahead and shook the basketball world just before the season tipped off by acquiring The Bearded One aka Iron Beard aka MF BEARD aka James Harden. It sparked huge debates through the basketball world, but for all intents and purposes, the Houston Rockets were elated that they had finally landed the superstar they wanted with the pieces they had stockpiled over time. Whether the Oklahoma City Thunder made the right move in sending the reigning Sixth Man of the Year off to Texas remains to be seen, but as Lakers fans, we know a thing or two about doing exactly that. These things take time to develop. Can they flip Kevin Martin's expiring contract for another piece, or is his talent going to be a great fit off the bench? Will their draft picks pan out to be talent that helps push the Thunder over the top in a top heavy league? Will the financial flexibility pay off over the next few years?
The questions rained down, but the one that mattered the most to Houston? Is James Harden a #1 type of player?
To open the season Harden dropped 37 points and 12 dimes. How's that for a #1 scoring option?
Still, is he worth max money? That was against Detroit, after all, everybody!
45 points later in the second game of the season, this much became clear: James Harden is one hell of a talent and the Rockets were clearly in the right to bring him on as their "superstar" of the future.
So, here we are, the Lakers getting ready to throw on the Sunday white jerseys to take on the James Harden led Rockets for a Sunday night slug fest. Asik is a great rebounder and defender who will have his work cut out for him as the Lakers bigs crash the offensive boards like Eddy Curry crashes pizza parties. Having two great pick and roll creators in Jeremy Lin and James Harden will test the Lakers defense, but with Darius Morris continuing to gain confidence and much needed experience, one can only hope we see the form in which he hounded Tony Parker and Goran Dragic (in the 4th quarter, at least).
James Harden has historically done a great job of defending Kobe Bryant, keeping his feet on the ground as Kobe pump fakes repeatedly hoping to get just one bite. Both shooting guards are tearing through the league, Kobe averaging 26.9 points per game and Harden netting 26.7 points per game. The two going blow for blow should make for a great basketball game to end a wild week for the Lakers.
So, grab your can of rally Pringles to cheer on the Los Angeles Lakers and let's hopefully end the week right. With a win that can bring the Lakers to a .500 record on the year.
- Follow this author on Twitter @BallReasons