Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets 3/9/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets Matchup Preview (3/9/22)

The lottery-bound Houston Rockets (16-49) host the Los Angeles Lakers (28-36) Wednesday night. The Lakers are 2-8 in their last 10 games with the 25th Offensive Rating and 21st Defensive Rating. They are still in the play-in, but they cannot feel optimistic about their playoff chances. The Lakers are coming off a significant 117-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are only 3.5 games back of the Lakers and a threat to catch them. Russell Westbrook had full control of the offense with LeBron James and Anthony Davis out. He produced 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists on 35.7 FG%. Talen Horton-Tucker added 18 points in a spot-start, while veteran Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points off the bench on 50 FG%. The Lakers could not stop Dejounte Murray, who led the Spurs with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Jakob Poeltl contributed 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Lakers were only down three points entering the final quarter, but they only managed 18 points in the 4th. LeBron James, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Malik Monk are game time decisions against the Rockets. Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn remain out. 

The dreadful Rockets are 1-13 in their last 14 games with the 27th Offensive Rating and 30th Defensive Rating. They just lost to the Heat 123-106 on Monday night. The Rockets backcourt played well, but the frontcourt and bench could not get it done. Kevin Porter Jr scored 22 points on 5/11 from three, and rookie Jalen Green scored 20 on 50 FG% and 40 3PT%. Josh Christopher scored 16 off the bench, while Kenyon Martin Jr added 14 points. The Heat offense imposed their will on the Rockets terrible defense. Tyler Herro scored 31 off the bench on 12/18 from the field and 6/9 from three. Jimmy Butler had 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists on an efficient 7/11 from the field. For their matchup against the Lakers, the injury report is full. Christian Wood, Garrison Matthews, Dennis Schroder, and Jae’Sean Tate are all game time decisions. That is three starters and one key reserve who may be unavailable. Luckily for the Rockets, it’s in their best interest to lose every game from now on.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets Betting Odds

The Lakers are 3-0 this season against the Rockets with a 7-point average margin of victory. The status of the injuries will alter the spread and over under, but the Lakers moneyline will not change. Regardless of whether LeBron plays or not, the Lakers are going to win this game. The Rockets have by far the worst defense in the NBA, which is a great sign for a Laker team trying to get their offense back on track. If everyone is healthy, I like the Lakers to win by 15+ points. If most of the injuries hold, I like the Lakers to win by 8+ points. LeBron is still one of the best players in the world who can take over a game at any time. His presence means the Rockets have a minuscule chance to win, especially if their players remain injured. Do the Rockets also even want to win? They have the 2nd worst record in the NBA and are tied with the Magic in the win column. Finishing in the bottom three is more important than winning a meaningless regular season game. 

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TV Schedule

Date: 3/9/22
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Toyota Center – Houston, TX
Channel: NBA League Pass

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Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Malik Monk
PF: LeBron James
C: Dwight Howard

Los Angeles Lakers Analysis

If LeBron is playing, the Lakers are in very good shape here. He is averaging 29.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 6.2 APG on a 52/35/76 shooting split. With the ball in his hands, LeBron can manipulate the defense and impose his will on the game. However, a huge deficit in LeBron’s game is his off-ball impact. His outside shooting is average, and he does not cut often enough. This problem is magnified because they have Russell Westbrook on the team, a ball-dominant guard who is one of the worst high volume perimeter shooters in NBA history. It is clear that Westbrook and LeBron cannot coexist together because their strengths and weaknesses both overlap. 

Contrary to popular belief, Westbrook still holds value as the lead ball handler. He attacks the rim ferociously and can find the open man. While I don’t think it would happen, Westbrook should be a 6th man for the Lakers as long as LeBron is playing. He would be an elite reserve who can keep the Lakers afloat in minutes without LeBron. The Lakers should still play him 30+ minutes, but he would be staggered with LeBron’s minutes. Malik Monk has proven that he can be an asset next to LeBron because of his smooth shooting in both spot up and off the dribble. Moving LeBron to point guard and bringing Monk back into the starting lineup makes sense on all levels for the Lakers. 

Houston Rockets Starting Lineup

PG: Kevin Porter Jr
SG: Jalen Green
SF: Eric Gordon
PF: Jae’Sean Tate
C: Christian Wood

Houston Rockets Analysis

The Rockets will need their young backcourt to excel on offense in order to think about beating the Lakers. Most of their offense comes from the pick and roll, but the Lakers are 8th in pick and roll ball handler defense. The Rockets must overcome this and produce out of the pick and roll. Rookie Jalen Green started out the season slow, but he’s been excellent since the All-Star break. In his last seven games, Green is averaging 20.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.4 APG on 47.5 FG%. While he won’t win Rookie of the Year, he is showing that he has a place as a high-end scorer. Kevin Porter Jr, meanwhile, is a shot creator averaging 14.0 PPG and 6.0 APG. He can produce a double-double any game because of his crafty ball handling and excellent vision. He’s somewhat careless with the ball, but that comes with the territory of being a young ball handler. He has a better three point shot than Green and has been quite literally one of the most efficient spot up shooters in the NBA. Running more plays with Green as the ball handler and Porter Jr coming off screens would take advantage of his shooting skill. 

Outside of their backcourt, the Rockets can get significant contributions from Christian Wood. He is averaging a double-double (17.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG) and can score from all levels. He’s shooting 38.1% from three and 72.4% inside three feet. Those two areas account for 69.2% of his total shots, so Wood has been an efficient scorer for the Rockets. Dwight Howard is the starting Lakers center, which is a great matchup for Wood. At his current age, Howard cannot leave the paint defensively and struggles against skilled, quick centers. Wood can drag Howard out to the perimeter; if Howard is wary of leaving the paint, Wood can shoot a semi-open three point shot and make the Lakers pay. 

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets Daily Fantasy Picks

I like LeBron, Wood, and Porter Jr in this matchup. LeBron will feast on this Rockets defense and fill out the box score. I don’t expect him to get a triple-double, but something close is very reasonable. Look for LeBron to record around 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists here. He also likely plays the majority of the game because the Rockets offense is good enough where it won’t be a complete blow out. For the Rockets, I think Wood and Porter Jr excel on offense. Wood will easily exploit Dwight Howard and score at will. He is also good for 10 rebounds and a couple of assists. The Lakers are not great defensively, so Wood should rack up the points. Porter Jr, meanwhile, can get hot from three. Westbrook is a poor defender now who can get duped off the dribble. Porter Jr will make 4+ threes here and flirt with a double-double. A line of around 22 points and 8 assists is my prediction for him.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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