After a dominant In-Season Tournament win versus Portland, the Lakers will return home to play the Houston Rockets on Sunday. This Lakers will be looking to avenge their earlier loss to Houston which the Rockets won easily 128-94.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets
When: 6:30 p.m. PT, Sunday, Nov. 19
Where: Crypto.com Arena
Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet
It may not seem like it, thanks to a blowout loss on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings, but the Lakers have momentum.
They've won three of their last four and with the emergence of Cam Reddish as a defensive guard and Rui Hachimura coming into his own off the bench, the Lakers are starting to find a rhythm and a hierarchy that benefits the role players while also supporting their two stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
If the Lakers want to keep this form going, they must focus on stopping Alperen Sengun. The Rockets center manhandled Los Angeles last game, scoring 19 points on 80% shooting, of course, that was with Davis absent for the game. If Davis does suit up on Sunday, it’s likely Sengun will have a harder time being as effective, given how important Davis is to the Lakers’ defensive scheme.
Poking the bear
A fun aspect of this matchup will be Dillon Brooks versus James. The duel became infamous last season due to Brooks’ antics and James getting the better of him in one-on-one situations and in the series, ending the Grizzlies' season by winning that playoff round 4-2.
Brooks now plays for Houston and continued talking saying he was ready to ‘lock him up’ before last week’s game. Now, his accomplishing that feat is debatable, but James did have an average game by his standards, scoring just 18 points on 7-13 shooting. Brooks may not have impressed defensively, but he always embraces a challenge and did have a hilarious stare-down with James near the free-throw line that lasted way too long.
Another big game by James with Brooks defending him would cause virality but, more importantly, put the Lakers in position to win and be two games above .500 for the first time this season.
Home sweet home
The Lakers are 5-1 at home, making Crytpo.com Arena a sanctuary for Lakers basketball.
Besides the return of Davis in this matchup, it will be interesting to see what adjustments the Lakers make to do better this time versus Houston. Will they play more 2-3 zone? Will we see the three big trio of Davis, Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood to help offset the Rockets' size? How many minutes and how effective will Austin Reaves be?
During the regular season, teams rarely make significant matchup adjustments, given that the goal is more oriented on doing what you want your team to do versus winning an individual game or series ala the playoffs.
However, given how poorly the Lakers performed last week against Houston and the rematch happening so quickly, I expect we will see a noticeable difference and an attempt by Darvin Ham and the coaching staff to win the game a different way this Sunday compared to their previous strategy versus Houston.
Notes and Updates:
- For the Lakers’ injury report, Maxwell Lewis (G-League Assignment), Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), Gabe Vincent (knee) are listed as out. Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) is probable. Jalen Hood-Schifino (right patella contusion) and LeBron James (left calf contusion) are questionable.
- The Rockets have Victor Oladipo (left patellar tendon repair) and Amen Thompson (right ankle sprain) listed as out.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.