View Full Version : Los Angeles Lakers @ Houston Rockets (7:30PM CST)

01-10-2007, 09:30 AM
Lakers-Rockets Preview (http://www.nba.com/games/20070110/LALHOU/preview.html)

Houston Rockets guard Tracy McGrady has been helpless watching Kobe Bryant lead the Los Angeles Lakers to wins over his team the last three games.

Now healthy, McGrady finally gets his chance at Bryant as the Rockets host the Lakers at the Toyota Center on Wednesday.

McGrady has averaged 30.3 points over his last eight games after missing the previous seven with back spasms. He had averaged 19.2 points in the 20 games prior to the injury.

But the 6-8 All-Star has missed the last three games against the Lakers (23-12) due to back ailments, including both of Houston's losses this season. In those three games, Bryant has averaged 39.7 points and had a 53-point performance on Dec. 15 in a 112-101 double-overtime victory. The Lakers star guard is averaging 37.8 points in the last four contests against the Rockets - all wins for Los Angeles.

McGrady continued his torrid pace Monday, scoring 15 fourth-quarter points to help the Rockets (22-13) to an 84-77 win at Chicago. The team improved to 6-2 with McGrady - who finished with 31 points - after going 2-5 without him.

"I knew I was going to take over,'' said McGrady, who had six points at halftime on 3-for-10 shooting.

"I couldn't seem to get going, physically. I kind of got loose a little bit, made some adjustments, (got) the ball on the move a lot and (created) some space on offense.''

It was McGrady's sixth consecutive game with at least 31 points, highlighted by a season-high 44-point effort in a win over Utah on Friday.

His ability to carry the Rockets has come at a key point in the season with star center Yao Ming - the team's leading scorer at 25.9 points per game - sidelined until at least February with a fractured right tibia suffered Dec. 23, when McGrady made his return to the lineup.

"We're a team that hangs in there,'' Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We've been without Yao or McGrady or both since (early December). It hasn't been a situation of woe is me. We've tried to fight and claw, play good and find a way to win on a given night.''

Bryant, meanwhile, is hoping to continue his dominance against the Rockets after being benched in the fourth quarter of a 128-118 loss at Memphis on Tuesday that snapped a four-game winning streak for Los Angeles.

"We didn't execute offensively, which created a bad defensive balance for us,'' Bryant said of the third period, when the Lakers were outscored 46-22. "They were able to get out on the break and get easy opportunities and blow the game open.''

Bryant finished with 25 points, but coach Phil Jackson benched him, Brian Cook and Smush Parker for the fourth quarter as the reserves finished out the game. The loss was particularly frustrating since the Lakers were coming off a 101-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks - the team with the best record in the NBA.

"We outplay the better teams right now, but we're getting outplayed by the teams that aren't as good,'' Lakers forward Luke Walton said. "Sometimes, we just end up winning at the end, but this is too good of a league and too long of a season to get a high playoff seed if we keep playing like that.''

The Lakers also will be lacking a center for this game as starting center Kwame Brown is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game with a sprained ankle. But 19-year-old Andrew Bynum has played well in his absence, averaging 12.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in the four games Brown has been sidelined.

The Lakers have won four of their last five at Houston.

01-11-2007, 12:12 AM
Geez the rockets are looking scary and apparently Mutombo has found the fountain of youth. He is playing like a madman.

01-11-2007, 12:15 AM
The Fakers got owned.

01-11-2007, 01:44 AM
anyone see that sick dunk that luther head had on turiaf?