Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

Kurt —  December 15, 2006

Don’t expect a long preview, it feels like we did this just a few days ago.

Double Yao. The one thing discussed after the last game here was that the Lakers waited until the second half to start doubling Yao Ming in the post. Not so coincidentally, that’s when the Lakers went on a big run. This time I would think the Lakers will start with the quick double right out of the gate (then vary what they do some from there). Make someone else beat you, if Rafer Alston and Shane Battier go 9 for 11 from three, so be it, the odds of that happening are a lot longer than those of Yao scoring single covered three feet from the hoop.

But, as we remember from the fourth quarter, we may want to stay close to Luther Head out beyond the arc.

Back-to-back. The Lakers catch a break as the slow-it-down Rockets were forced to run and gun up in the Bay Area last night, falling to the Warriors by 2. The Rockets led by double digits most of the third quarter but when the starters subbed out for the bench, the wheels came off and it was a close fourth. Baron Davis was the good Baron Davis, hitting the big three for the win.

About the Rocket bench, it was they that led the fourth quarter comeback against the Lakers last Tuesday. Heck, John Lucas was a team best +22. Padgett was +18. The Laker bench is better than them and need to prove it.

How do the Rockets defend Walton? Should be interesting, Luke had 18 points and was +20 in the last meeting stepping into Lamar’s role, you have to think the Rockets will try to adjust to that.

Along those lines, another start for Radmanovic and another chance for him to step up.

Pace. I mentioned last time this is key — the Lakers want to run, Jeff Van Gundy is likely to lobby for a 35-second shot clock. Especially catching the Rockets in a back-to-back, you should be able to wear them down by pushing the pace.

Hot topic last night. Tony “busblog” Pierce is a big hoops fan, and last night (at an LAist gathering) he was making the case for the Clippers to give up Livingston and to get Iverson. While they Clips would face luxury tax implications, if the window is open and their title chances are the next five years….. What do you think?