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Game Preview: Lowly Lakers try to stall Rockets' takeoff

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The Lakers might be giving Sam Hinkie a scare with how poorly they've been playing lately.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers play their third game in four nights, hosting Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. The purple and gold were out of sorts against the Utah Jazz Saturday night in the first half of this back-to-back, shooting 34.4 percent from the field as a team. The horrendous offensive performances have become a trend in recent weeks, somehow plummeting their season into even darker depths.

The Lakers have the second-worst net rating in the NBA (-11.8), getting outscored by just .2 points per 100 possessions less than the Philadelphia 76ers. L.A. has been encroaching into Philly's tanking territory, just four games back from having the best odds heading into the draft lottery. Dropping to last in the league once seemed unlikely, but now seems like a distinct possibility with half of the season to go and no light at the end of the tunnel to speak of.

Kobe Bryant left the game early against Utah, continuing to balance playing in as many games as possible with a strained right Achilles that he said felt "jammed up" before he called it a night. Larry Nance, Jr. is considered doubtful because of a sore knee, which should open the door for Julius Randle to soak extended minutes.

The season has been disappointing but the recent play has somehow made it feel even worse. 30 percent shooting nights have become expected as their offensive efficiency dwindles, and they continue to allow the most points per 100 possessions in the league. The Lakers have been travelling through the last four days and are on the second half of a back-to-back, so try to enjoy the game. If you dare.

Time: 6:30 p.m. PT

TV: TWCSN