The Los Angeles Lakers have had some rocky outings thus far this season, but should have a bit of momentum built following Wednesday night's victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a meeting at the Staples Center. That momentum will try to be stopped as quick as it was started, though, by the visiting Houston Rockets.
There are 11 games on Friday night's NBA slate, but the Rockets and Lakers are scheduled to tip off quite a bit later than the rest of their mates thanks to their billing as the backend of an NBA TV doubleheader. Following the Detroit Pistons visiting the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30, NBA TV will switch its coverage to L.A. for a 10:30 tip-off between Houston and the Lakers.
The game isn't all that important for the Lakers since they earned the season series tie-breaker over the Clippers, their closest competitor in the division, with Wednesday night's win. It has enormous consequences for the Rockets, though, considering a loss combined with a Phoenix Suns win would put them back on the bubble when it comes to the 2012 NBA playoff race.
The Rockets have compiled 29-25 record this season under new head coach Kevin McHale and, though they're in fourth place in the super-tough Southwest Division, Houston controls its destiny as far as a playoff berth is concerned despite being the fourth best team in their own division. They don't have a difficult schedule the rest of the way, but a win against the Lakers could alleviate a lot of concerns.
As far as the Lakers are concerned, Andrew Bynum returned from a one-game absence to score a game-high 36 points to go with eight rebounds as head coach Mike Brown shortened his rotation to just eight players in the Clippers victory.