Kenny Smith says the Rockets could beat the Lakers tonight (Barry Gossage / Getty Images )
The Lakers’ playoff fate is in their own hands?
As far as former Houston guard Kenny Smith is concerned, the Rockets will be the ones in control Wednesday night when they visit Staples Center to play the Lakers in the regular-season finale for both teams.
If Houston comes to play, Smith said, it wins.
But if the Rockets opt to sit players or give a half-hearted effort in hopes of securing a first-round matchup against Oklahoma City, Smith said, the Lakers will come out on top.
“It depends on how they’re taking it because they are a better team,” Smith, now an analyst for TNT, said of the Rockets in an interview with The Times. “If they’re treating this game as a regular-season game, I think they win it. If they’re treating it as, we’re resting our players, the Lakers win.”
Houston has won two of the first three meetings between the teams. If the Rockets lose Wednesday, they will play the Thunder in the first round, reuniting guard James Harden with former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Rockets are, however, coming off a 119-112 loss to Phoenix, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference.
Even if the Lakers win, they would be a massive underdog in a series against the San Antonio Spurs with Kobe Bryant having been lost for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.
Is there any way Smith could see the Lakers winning that series?
“I don’t think the Lakers could control Tony Parker’s ability to get into the paint, so his health is the key for San Antonio,” Smith said.
Parker sat out the Spurs' loss to Golden State on Monday with a sore neck and left ankle.
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