National Basketball Association
Houston at L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Lakers can make the playoffs by beating the visiting Houston Rockets on Wednesday or having Utah lose to Memphis. Los Angeles has won seven of eight games in its late-season push and would actually claim the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference by beating the Rockets. Houston is one game ahead of Los Angeles and also one game behind the Golden State Warriors, who are in sixth place heading into the final day.
The Rockets suffered a dreadful 119-112 loss to lowly Phoenix on Monday and that defeat has put them in danger of slipping into the No. 8 spot with the loss to the Lakers. Houston coach Kevin McHale is aware that winning the contest at the Staples Center is going to be an arduous task. “We are going to play a determined L.A. team,” McHale said. “We have to play well.” The Lakers will be playing their second game since losing Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Los Angeles notched a 91-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday without the superstar. The Lakers are 1-2 against the Rockets this season.
10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Comcast SportsNet Houston, Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (45-36):
Houston has lost three of its last five games despite playing a light April schedule. That has prompted concern with the playoffs about to commence. “I think that has been one of our problems all season – focus,” point guard Jeremy Lin said. “It usually comes with a younger team. At this point of the season, it is really not an excuse. Every game means so much. We are talking about playoff seeding. We are talking about matchups and things that are more important than anything we played for all season.” Leading scorer James Harden was just 5-of-18 from the field while scoring 16 points in the loss to the Suns. Harden averages 25.9 points.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (44-37):
Center Dwight Howard had a monster game against San Antonio with 26 points and 17 rebounds. He is one rebound away from becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 9,000 career rebounds. Howard will be 27 years, 130 days old on Wednesday. Legends Wilt Chamberlain (27 years, 144 days) and Bill Russell (27 years, 357 days) are the only other players to reach 9,000 before age 28. Guard Steve Blake stepped up with a season-best 23 points against the Spurs and will play a key role the rest of the season with Bryant sidelined. Blake averages 6.9 points.
1. Houston has won four of the past five meetings.
2. Lakers PG Steve Nash (hip, hamstring) will miss his eighth consecutive game.
3. Rockets F Carlos Delfino has made 10 3-pointers over the past two games.
Lakers 112, Rockets 109
Stats and Records