Both of L.A.’s big men will miss, at least, the next couple of games with injuries. Dwight Howard is set to miss a week or two with a torn labrum. Gasol’s return is up in the air because of a concussion he suffered.
Heading into the season, the Lakers strength was expected to be their ability to start two dominant seven-footers in the frontcourt. Now, Los Angeles will have to make due with a few inexperienced players that will have to get major minutes.
Center Robert Sacre will be inserted into the starting lineup. He was recently called up from the D-League. Darius Morris will also be on the floor to begin games.
The Lakers will debut their new lineup on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets. The contest is scheduled to get underway at 8 p.m. ET in Houston. You can watch the game on NBA TV. There is no legal live stream available online because the game will be broadcast on national television.
At 15-18, the Lakers might be running out of time to turn their season around. Howard, Gasol and Steve Nash have all been victims of injuries this year, but head coach Mike D’Antoni says this is no time for excuses.
"The NBA is unforgiving, and nobody is feeling sorry for us," said Mike D'Antoni. "There's 29 other teams that are happy, and we've got to do the best we can do."
Houston is 1-1 against Los Angeles this season, but could be a nightmare of a matchup for L.A. They are the highest scoring team in the NBA, and the Lakers have played very poorly defensively.
L.A. has struggled with quick guards, and a backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden could give them a lot of trouble. Harden was recently named the Western Conference player of the week, averaging 29 points and over three steals in his last four games.
Though Lin had trouble adjusting to playing with his new teammates early on, he’s seemed to settle in with Houston. He and Harden have learned to share the ball, leading the Rockets to a 20-14 record. He’s increased his shooting percentage six points since the beginning of December.
Kobe Bryant will likely take a lot of shots on Tuesday night. He shot the ball 31 times the last time these two teams met, and that number should only go up with Howard and Gasol in street clothes.
Bryant leads the NBA in scoring, but the guard scoring a lot of points hasn’t always led to Lakers victories. If Houston can force him into taking bad attempts, it could be a long night for L.A.
Betting Line: Houston-8, 221.5
Prediction: Houston 111, Los Angeles 97