Lakers-Rockets Preview

Kobe Bryant knows the Los Angeles Lakers need to improve in many


Houston could be a difficult place to make those changes.

Bryant and the Lakers will try to climb back to .500 on Tuesday

night when the Rockets seek their first six-game home winning

streak in two seasons.

Still disappointed at a 113-103 loss to Orlando on Sunday that

capped off the team’s 1-2 homestand, Bryant provided a relatively

simple solution for the Lakers’ inconsistency.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s not solving world hunger, you

just gotta go out there and do your job,” he said a day after Los

Angeles was outscored 40-26 in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers (8-9) are still trying to find their way under coach

Mike D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll system – going 3-4 since he took

for the fired Mike Brown – but Bryant continues to do his job,

leading the NBA with 27.6 points per game. Bryant said Pau Gasol

needs to step up his game, especially with Steve Nash out

indefinitely with a small fracture in his right leg, Steve Blake

gone the next 6-to-8 weeks with a torn abdominal muscle, and the

Lakers’ bench among the worst in the league with 23.4 points per


Gasol is averaging 10.1 points on 38.8 percent shooting under


“He might not be posting up as much as he’d like,” said Bryant,

52 points shy of becoming the fifth in league history with 30,000.

“But he just has to adjust. The reality is I’ve adjusted. I’ve

never run this many screen and rolls in my entire life, but I’ve

worked on it.”

Dwight Howard needs to work on his free throw shooting. The

six-time All-Star center is hitting a career-low 46.5 percent from

the foul line after missing 12 of 21 on Sunday, including seven of

his 14 fourth-quarter attempts.

“As a team, our effort wasn’t there,” Howard said.

The Lakers can’t afford that against a Rockets team that’s won

four of five overall and going for its first six-game run at home

since reeling off seven straight from March 14-April 3, 2011.

Houston (8-8) is averaging 113.0 points and shooting 49.9

percent – including 45.5 percent from 3-point range – during

its home winning streak. All five starters have reached double

figures in the last three at the Toyota Center, with the team

totaling 78 assists during this stretch.

“There’s a lot more balance, and I think the ball is moving,”

point guard Jeremy Lin said after handing out a team-best eight

assists in Saturday’s 124-116 win over Utah. “We’re getting our

bigs in a spot that they need to be to keep the floor spread. It’s

starting to look more and more dangerous.”

Chandler Parsons and James Harden, the team leader with 24.1

points per game, are the Rockets’ biggest threats from long range

with 36 and 31 3-pointers, respectively, but Los Angeles’ frontline

needs to keep an eye on Patrick Patterson. The 6-foot-9 forward is

averaging 23.0 points and has hit 6 of 12 from beyond the arc in

the last three games.

“Pat, the way he’s shooting the ball, it’s going to stretch out

the defense so much. It’s not going to allow teams to show as hard

on pick-and-rolls and go and double James,” Parsons told the

Rockets’ official website.

Parsons led Houston with 24 points and Harden added 20 in a

119-108 loss at the Lakers on Nov. 18 when Bryant countered with

his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 boards and 11


Houston has won 23 of 25 December home games.