As the injury-riddled Houston Rockets attempt to battle through a tough stretch in which James Harden has done the heavy lifting, they face the Los Angeles Lakers next. It’s a nationally-televised home game against a Lakers team dealing with their own injuries, including one to LeBron James, who’ll be sidelined again.
Even with James out, the Lakers are hoping they’ve hit their own stride, winning two in a row without the future Hall-of-Famer. After Houston’s tough 145-142 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets last game, they now sit with a 25-19 record and in the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. This is a big matchup for both sides, as Los Angeles is just one game behind the Rockets at 25-21.
There are quite a few injuries and topics to talk about on both sides, but we’re going to look at the Rockets’ roster and starting lineup. Beyond that, there have been some minor updates on Clint Capela and Eric Gordon’s injury status, so we’ll evaluate the outlook for both players.
Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Lakers
|Center||P.J. Tucker||Nene Hilario||Isaiah Hartenstein|
|Power Forward||James Ennis||Marquese Chriss|
|Small Forward||Eric Gordon||Gary Clark|
|Shooting Guard||Austin Rivers||Gerald Green||James Nunnally|
|Point Guard||James Harden||Vincent Edwards|
The good news is that Gordon, who missed eight games prior to the matchup with the Nets on Wednesday, is probable for this game, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. James Ennis is listed as probable as well, so both players should be in the action. Gordon left that game after 21 minutes due to his right knee but scored 20 points with three rebounds and two assists prior to exiting.
One big talking point has been the Rockets’ decision to use P.J. Tucker at center. While Tucker stands at just 6-foot-6, it led to Nets center Jarrett Allen having a huge game with 20 points, 24 rebounds and three blocks. Although ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed the Rockets will sign Nets big man Kenneth Faried, who’s agreed to a contract buyout, that won’t happen until Monday.
This means the Rockets will likely roll with the undersized Tucker again while using veteran Nene Hilario off the bench. Due to the fact that the Lakers have a few legitimate big men in Tyson Chandler, JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac, there’s a chance Hilario sees more than the 16 minutes he did last game.
Latest on Clint Capela Injury Timeline
The decision to add Faried coming even prior to him clearing waivers stems from the injury to center Clint Capela. Houston’s 24-year-old center has put together an impressive season with averages of 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. Through the six games in January he played, Capela’s numbers jumped to 21.2 points and 13.0 rebounds while shooting 60.5 percent from the field.
A thumb injury for the athletic big man has led to another setback for the Rockets, though. On Thursday, the team revealed Capela underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.
With a 4-6 week timeline set for Capela, this means that he’ll return sometime right after the NBA All-Star break more than likely. Houston’s final game before the break is on Wednesday, February 13 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, meaning it falls just prior to the four-week mark.