Lakers-Rockets Preview

Rockets_Lakers Game 1 on Monday!After 12 years of either missing the playoffs or losing in the first round the Houston Rockets have made it back to the second round. But dont get excited so fast, because waiting in the second round is the best team in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers won all four games between the two teams in the regular season.  In their first meeting Tracy McGrady scored just three points on 1-of-11 shooting. Shane Battier did not play and the Lakers went on a 92-50 run to blowout the Rockets 111-82 in LA. In the second game Kobe Bryant gave props to Rockets gaurd Von Wafer, who had 23 points in a losing effort. Wafer was the Lakers’ second-round pick in 2005. The game was close but Kobe scored 13 of his final 33 points in the 4th quarter. Lakers won 105-100. The third game was again in Houston and once again second half offense for the Rockets was non existent. The Lakers outscored the Rockets 62-45 in the second half — led by Kobe Bryant’s 31 second-half points — to beat Houston 102-96. The final game was back at the Staples Center and the Lakers pulled out a hard fought, physical 93-81 win. Although the Lakers won each game, neither team was at full strength. The Lakers were without Andrew Bynum for the last three, and the Rockets did not have Battier in the first game and no Carl Landry in the final game. The lost of Dikembe Mutumbo will also hurt the Rockets depth. If in some miraculous way the Rockets are able to “contain” Kobe Bryant in the second half then they may have a chance. Charles Barkley said on Inside the NBA “the only person that can stop Kobe is that person we get down on our knees and pray to at night” But with Shane Battier and Ron Artest(the Brains and Brawn) two of the best defenders in the league Kobe will have his work cut out for him. The Rockets are a team that wears its confidence on its sleeve. They have offensive lapses for quarters, but the defense never stops.  The Lakers are destined for the Finals while Houston has to be relieved just to be out of the first round. This is the second round series to watch. Hopefully for at least six games.

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