Preview: Lakers look to leave Houston with another win against Rockets

Image: Cato Cataldo/Carmen Mandato/NBA Entertainment

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of their third “MLB-style” season series, with their second of two games in Houston against the Rockets set to tip-off tonight. The Lakers previously played back-to-back games against the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs in their home areans, winning all four of the games. They’ll look to continue their winning streak in these back-to-back game series, coming off a commanding 120-102 win against the Rockets on Sunday. The Lakers are favored to win the second matchup against the Rockets, as can be seen in the upcoming NBA game odds here.

Injury Report

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported the injury report yesterday for tonight’s game, revealing a startling list of names. Wesley Matthews will be out for his second consecutive game with Achilles soreness (not the same Achilles he severely injured years ago) while Jared Dudley and Kostas Antetokounmpo have popped up on the report with both set to miss tonight’s game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is set to play, while Anthony Davis and LeBron James are on the report as questionable as they have been for most of the games lately.

We’ll see how the rest of the day goes, but don’t be surprised if one of the Lakers’ two superstars misses the game. The Lakers have an away game with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, so the Lakers may want to keep one of the superstars healthy for that game. You never know in this shortened season, as Frank Vogel has said many times that they’re going to be careful with how they use the two so that they’re fresh at the end of the season.

Either way, this may mean some more stellar play from Talen Horton-Tucker. He received 20 minutes on Sunday in light of Matthews’ absence and played really well, tallying 17 points, five rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Expect even more playing time if one of Davis or LeBron misses time.

The Lakers look for consistency on defense

One of the key areas of issue for the Lakers lately has been their defense, a cornerstone of their successes last year in the bubble. The poor defense even led Anthony Davis to say they were playing “like shit” on that side of the ball.

The defense came back in a big way on Sunday, limiting James Harden, John Wall, and Christian Wood to only 102 points. The Lakers talled 13 steals and eight blocks in the evening, led by THT and Alex Caruso with four and three steals a piece, respectively, with the big man Davis leading the team in blocks.

If they do a good job of defending the Rockets tonight, it’ll be arguably the first time all season that they were able to string together two great defensive performances. It’ll also show that these Lakers are capable of this, as it’s mostly been theorized that they’re saving their defensive efforts for when it really matters in the early summer.

Tip-off is an early one, at 5:00 p.m. PST on Spectrum SportsNet and NBA TV.

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