Found April 16, 2013 on Purple and Gold Blog:
Like a Hollywood script, the Lakers' (44-37) playoff hope rests in the final game of the season. But the drama isn't theirs alone. Utah is in Memphis fighting to make the playoffs if they beat the Grizzlies, who are trying to clinch home court advantage over the Clippers by beating the Jazz. Then, there are the Houston Rockets (45-36) — a team most likely trying to avoid a 1st-round bout with the reigning Western Conference champs Thunder. But if they go down at Staples Center tonight against the Lakers, they will have no choice but to face OKC as they will surrender the 7th seed to the purple and gold despite ending their season with the same record and tying the season series with the Lakers at 2 apiece. That's because the Lakers own a better record against conference foes at currently 27-24 versus 24-27 for Houston. But with everything that has happened this season for L.A., they still control their own playoff destiny. And for 48 minutes, the league's 24th-best defensive team will have to rely on one another to stop the league's highest-scoring offense from crushing their playoff aspirations. However, the Lakers may already know if they are in or not since the Jazz-Grizzlies game should end right before their tip-off with the Rockets. Here's hoping that Mike D'Antoni will not allow the team to scoreboard watch before the game. If the Jazz lose tonight, there's a strong possibility that complacency will set in for the Lakers tonight. That's the last thing D'Antoni wants to happen. Complacency is the reason why the Lakers have been losing big leads this season. If that sets in tonight, the Lakers could very well lose. And if they lose, that's not a good vibe to bring into the playoffs whether they'll be facing San Antonio or the dreaded Oklahoma City in the opening round. This team has zero margin for error considering that they won't have Kobe Bryant at all and Steve Nash for who knows how long. Those are the 2 players they all consider as their leaders that also happen to be their best perimeter weapons. Without those 2 in this game, don't be surprised if the Rockets force the Lakers' shooters to beat them by focusing in on both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in the paint. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Delfino, Chandler Parsons and James Harden are their best players at stripping the ball loose. The Rockets may be the 3rd-worst defensive team in the league, but that doesn't mean they don't have what it takes to foil the Lakers. They've done it twice already this season, albeit at home. Focus, tenacity and consistency will need to be on the side of the Lakers tonight. They will also have to rely on both Howard and Gasol to lead them to victory. If the Lakers can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor, that will put pressure on the Rocket perimeter game to keep its consistency. But if Metta World Peace and Steve Blake can make Lin and Harden uncomfortable enough out there, maybe that will greatly slow down this explosive offense. But the most important thing for the Lakers tonight is they can't stop believing in one another. This is the 4th and final game of the season and the season series for these teams. The Lakers have not lost at home against the Rockets this year and are 4-1 in their last 5 meetings at Staples Center. Matchup of the Game Jeremy Lin vs. Steve Blake: For all of his hype from last year, Lin is still a streaky shooter who really needs to get into the paint to make an impact. Blake helped Tony Parker shoot 1-out-of-10 in their win against the Spurs on Sunday. He will have to be tenacious on D again tonight versus Lin and whoever else he ends up guarding. The outcome of the game may not rely on what happens in this matchup, but make no mistake, it will be a factor for either team. Keys to the Game > Team Game: Consider tonight's game a playoff game since it will have the same feel and look of one. The Lakers have to take this game as the final test to see if they are truly ready for the post-season. Banding together, especially on the defensive end, is monumentally crucial. But they should already know that. > Slow Down Harden: The Rockets may have plenty of shooters, but Harden is their leader. Metta will most likely start on him, so he has to make sure he sets the tone for the Lakers defensively. As I've mentioned before, the first step to beating a team is taking care of their best player. Hopefully, MWP will take that challenge tonight and conquer it. > Defense: Houston turns the ball over more times than any team in the NBA (yes, that includes the Lakers) with nearly 16 turnovers a game. Not saying that the Lakers are capable of putting the pressure on ballhandlers and passers all the time, but they have to make sure they don't allow the Rockets do whatever they want on offense. Defensive rotations and staying home with shooters are going to be the biggest keys on defense for the Lakers tonight. Oh and slowing down a few fast breaks won't hurt either. Watch Out For ROCKETS: Chandler Parsons: Delfino may be the first guy that pops in the mind of most Laker fans as the role player that hurts the Lakers most, but Parsons is THE one guy for the Rockets who can do it on both sides of the floor. He can shoot, attack the rim, rebound, pass, and of course, play solid defense. LAKERS: Pau Gasol: Pau averages 17 points and 5 boards against the Rockets this season, but look for those numbers, especially rebounding, to go up tonight. He rebounded well against the Spurs with 16, but he did not shoot the ball well making only 3 of his 17 tries from the field. Pau understands the gravity of this game and has the experience in identifying the areas of his game he needs to step up. Let's see what he does. Game Info Tonight vs. Houston Rockets Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST) Staples Center TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)/ESPN (national) Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW Injury Notes ROCKETS: None. LAKERS: Kobe Bryant (Achilles) is out for 6-9 months. Jordan Hill (hip) and Steve Nash (hamstring) are out.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

The Assist: Lakers Dwight Howard & Jodie Meeks visit Kobe Bryant at home

Trusting in Dwight Howard’s word about what he plans to do in free agency has been a shaky in the past. But if his latest actions are any indications, the rumors that Dwight plans to sign in LA long term this summer absolutely point to that. Not only did Dwight go to the hospital to visit Kobe Bryant following the surgery on Mamba’s achilles tendon, he and teammate Jodie Meeks...

Lakers' Kobe Bryant won't be 100%

Following the significant Achilles' injury suffered by Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant, many question what the future Hall of Famer will be like if he's able to return. Bryant says he won't let the torn Achilles' end his career, but Sports Dr. Ray Solano believes that he doesn't expect him to return to play at 100 percent after undergoing surgery and...

Dwight Howard reportedly expected to sign with Lakers

The future of the Los Angeles Lakers became even more uncertain on Friday night when Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon. The team already has to deal with Dwight Howard becoming an impending free agent, let alone worrying about Kobe’s anticipated six-to-nine month recovery period. According to USA Today Sports, Howard is expected to re-sign with LA. Two sources close...

Kobe Bryant crops out Pau Gasol’s head in great Instagram picture

Now that Kobe Bryant has some time on his hands, he’s decided to explore the Instagram world. But, like anyone trying out a new technology, he’s experienced a few hitches. Let’s just say he’s still getting his photo cropping skills down. “Mi hermano Pau came by and chilled wit with me for a few hrs. We laughed and joked and talked strategy…,” wrote as his caption to...

Lakers Dwight Howard & Jodie Meeks visit Kobe Bryant at home

With their best player out for 6 months a few of the Lakers decided to pay Kobe Bryant a visit. Not only did Dwight Howard go to the hospital to visit [...]

Dwight Howard Suggests You Call Him The “Chocolate Mamba”

Kobe isn’t around to tell him to keep the clown act in Orlando, so Dwight is back to his happy-go-lucky self. Since, he doesn’t like to use the Superman moniker anymore after Shaq punked him, he is thinking about trying out a new name. Dwight also suggested he could be the “Chocolate Mamba.” And sell a snack bar by that name. — KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) April 16, 2013 I...

Kobe Bryant’s achilles injury gets the Taiwanese cartoon treatment

Allow us to present Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles tendon, through the lens of the Taiwanese animation studio NMA. This video is ... something.

Dwight Howard Stopped By Hospital Twice To Check on Kobe

If this was an episode of “24″ (I know ironic), Dwight would be checking in to make sure Kobe was never released from hospital (I miss Jack Bauer). I believe Dwight somewhat, when he says that Kobe has helped him this season, but I also believe, he is embracing the fact, that he can be the “MAN” while Kobe is injured. Frankly, for the Lakers to prosper, even when Kobe comes...

Podcast: Kobe Bryant Appreciation Night….Sorta.

On the recent edition of The UC Show, the three-man weave started off the night paying tribute to the good people of Boston and extended our thoughts to everyone affected by the events of the Boston Marathon. We went on to discuss The 3 To See and how it would be in the WNBA’s best [...]The post Podcast: Kobe Bryant Appreciation Night….Sorta. appeared first on The Sports Fan Journal.

Boss & Rob Show Ep 10: Boston Bombings, T-Mac, Lakers, 1st Date Advice and More (Audio)

JR The Bossman (@JRTheBossman) will be joined by Robert Littal (@BlkSportsOnline), CEO/Founder of BlackSportsOnline.com to talk about the top stories in sports and entertainment such as the Boston Bombings, Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers Playoff Hopes, Royce White paying for abortions and educate the Dollarnaires on things that will ensure success in their everyday lives. Listen...

Breakdown Of The Jazz/Lakers Race For The 8th Spot Out West

Wednesday is the last day of the regular season in the NBA, and 15 teams have punched their ticket to the NBA Playoffs. Only one spot remains, and that is the #8 spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz and the Lakers are the two teams going for that coveted final spot, which means that as far as what hoops to watch on Wednesday it should be the Jazz and the Lakers. The situation...

Spurs to meet Lakers in first round

The first round for the San Antonio Spurs is officially penciled in against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs won the regular season series 2-1 against the Lakers, but this is going to be a far more different series than we saw in the regular season. Kobe Bryant is out for the season and so is his 27.5ppg average against the silver and black this season.  While the Lakers...

WIN a Kobe ‘Vino’ T-Shirt From 24 Threads

As you probably have noticed, we’ve been in a pretty giving mood here at Laker Nation. This time around, we’re giving away a Kobe ‘Vino’ T-Shirt from our new friends over at 24 Threads. We’re going to announce the winner right after tonight’s Lakers vs. Rockets game, so make sure you’re following LakerNation on Twitter. For your chance to win: LIKE 24 Threads on Facebook...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.