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Preview: Lakers vs. Rockets

November 18, 2012|By Eric Pincus
  • James Harden is averaging 26.7 points a game, only second to league leader Kobe Bryant's 26.9 points.
James Harden is averaging 26.7 points a game, only second to league leader… (John Bazemore / Associated…)

The Mike D'Antoni Lakers are expected to make their debut on Sunday night when hosting the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers (4-5) recently brought in D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown, going from a defensive-first coach to offense-first.  D'Antoni said recently that he expects the Lakers to score 110-115 points a night.

The Rockets (also 4-5) are now led by James Harden, previously a problem for the Lakers when with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  They also have former D'Antoni/New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, along with one of the emerging centers in the league in Omer Asik.

With Steve Nash (leg) out and Steve Blake (abdominal strain) a question mark, second-year point guard Darius Morris might get another start . . . although it remains to be seen just what D'Antoni has in mind for the club.

Key matchup

Kobe Bryant is leading the league at 26.9 points a game.  James Harden is second at 26.7.

The two battled when Harden was a role player with the Thunder but not he's a star in his own right.

In simple terms, Bryant versus Harden should be a lot of fun to watch.

X-factor

The Rockets signed away Omer Asik from the Chicago Bulls, taking him from role-player to a rebounding force at 13.2 boards a game.

Asik is a strong defender and possibly the biggest individual challenge yet for Dwight Howard.

For the Lakers, if Blake isn't able to play then the team will need a strong performance from Morris against Houston's Lin.

Outlook

The Lakers, playing off emotion with the arrival of D'Antoni, should be able to gut out the win.

The Rockets won't be an easy team to beat but the Lakers get to .500 after a 1-4 start.

ALSO:

Lakers, Mike D'Antoni all about pace

Can Lakers' Mike D'Antoni get anything out of Meeks or Ebanks?

Kupchak: Lakers didn't want coaching hire based on public pressure

You can email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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