Rockets-Lakers Preview

The Los Angeles Lakers are a loss away from tying the franchise record and setting a new mark since the team relocated to Southern California more than 50 years ago.

Avoiding that fate Tuesday night seems unlikely with the high-powered Houston Rockets coming to town.

The Lakers (25-52) matched the club record for defeats since moving to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season with Sunday’s 120-97 loss to the Clippers, their fourth in a row and 10th in 13 games.

The 1974-75 team went 30-52, and the franchise record was set by the 1957-58 Minneapolis club, which went 19-53.

”It’s one of those years,” forward Wesley Johnson said. ”It’s tough to fight through it.”

If injuries haven’t hurt the Lakers enough, Kent Bazemore sprained his right foot Sunday and his status is uncertain. Bazemore has played a key role since being acquired from Golden State on Feb. 20, averaging 13.1 points in 23 games.

While injuries have certainly played a major part in the Lakers’ woes, poor defensive play has also been a huge detriment.

Los Angeles allows the second-most points in the NBA at 109.0 per game and is surrendering an average of 114.5 during its skid. It is 2-34 when giving up at least 109.

That doesn’t bode well for stopping Houston, which is the league’s second-highest scoring team at 107.1 points per game. The Rockets are averaging 113.8 in winning seven of 10, and they’ve won 30 of 31 when reaching their scoring average.

Houston lost to the Lakers 99-98 on Nov. 7 on a 3-pointer with 1 second left before winning the last two matchups by a combined 40 points. In the last meeting Feb. 19, the Rockets led by as much as 36 in a 134-108 win at Staples Center – Houston’s highest-scoring game of the season.

The Rockets, who have clinched a playoff berth and own a two-game lead over fifth-place Portland with six to play, have not defeated Los Angeles three times in a season since 1996-97.

James Harden has thoroughly enjoyed facing the defensively challenged Lakers this season, averaging 34.0 points while going 10 of 23 from 3-point range.

With Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley nursing injuries, Harden has stepped up to average 31.1 points and 7.4 assists in his last eight games. He had 32 points and Chandler Parsons scored eight in overtime to lead the Rockets to a 130-125 victory over Denver on Sunday.

Omer Asik had another impressive showing while starting for Howard, finishing with a season-high 18 points and matching a career best with 23 rebounds.

Howard has sat out five straight and eight of 10 with a left ankle strain, while Beverley has missed the last five with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Asik is averaging 11.6 points and 13.5 boards in the last eight games the All-Star center has been sidelined.

Houston scored a franchise-record 47 points in the second quarter Sunday but was disappointed it coughed up a 17-point halftime lead to an inferior opponent.

"It felt like we were in mud all night," Parsons said. "At this point in the season it doesn’t matter, a win is a win, but we have to be more consistent throughout the game. We can’t allow them to go on big runs like that. When we get leads we have to extend them. We can’t let up and help teams come in, especially at the beginning of the game."