A Surprising Amount on the Line Tonight for the Rockets in LA

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

It's always amazing that after 81 games, it can come down to a single contest between two teams. Such is the case tonight in Los Angeles as the Rockets face the Lakers in the final game of the season. For both, a win is paramount but for different reasons. The Lakers, the preseason favorite to win it all -- or at least reasonably challenge the Heat -- after the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, have been a massive disappointment. They are literally playing for their playoff lives. If they win, they are in regardless of whether Utah beats Memphis. However, if they lose and Utah wins, they would be out of the playoffs, completing their disaster of a season.

The Rockets have already clinched a playoff spot, but their loss to Phoenix Monday night could drop them all the way to the 8th spot for a first round match up with Oklahoma City. However, if Golden State loses at Portland and the Rockets win, they could move all the way back to 6th.

As usual, it's complicated, but the bottom line is the Rockets need to win to keep themselves in decent position and, bonus, to help boot the Lakers out.

The good news for the Rockets is that no matter what happens, this will give their young players tremendous playoff experience to build on for the future. Playoff intensity is different from the regular season and giving guys a chance to feel that firsthand would be a boon to their development. Even James Harden, who was an integral part in the Thunder's run to the NBA Finals last year, can benefit from increased exposure to the post season.

For the Lakers, the situation is a bit more dire. They already lost Kobe Bryant to an achilles tear a few days ago and Howard is a free agent in the offseason having not made a commitment on what he will do when free agency hits. Ironically, the Rockets would provide a not unlikely landing spot for the big man. Daryl Morey has position this team to have enough money to sign a max dollar free agent, the only playoff team with that store of cap space.

With so much on the line, the Rockets should be ready, but they have laid eggs in big games earlier in the season, so who knows. With all the youth, it is tough to know just who will show up. But, if the team that got all the way up to the 6th seed despite their lack of experience and massive turnover last summer shows up, I like our chances.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.