They'll play without
Houston may not have center
The Rockets are fighting for playoff position, while the Lakers are a bottom four team -- which may not be a bad thing given that the Lakers owe a top-five protected pick to the
The Lakers own Houston's first-rounder as well, as part of the
In a way, it's a win-win for the Lakers regardless of which team ends up on top.
Meanwhile, the Lakers probably won't have Tarik Black (ankle), while Julius Randle (leg) and
He's also dishing 6.8 assists a night with 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 9.2 free-throw attempts.
Harden is extremely difficult to guard.
The Lakers can try
Offensively, Coach Byron Scott has turned to rookie Jordan Clarkson as the team's starting point guard.
Clarkson is an explosive athlete, still learning the pace of the NBA game, but now is the time for the Lakers to prioritize player development.
The Rockets have a number of players capable of big nights including
Houston will likely be playing short-handed, as are the Lakers.
Sans Bryant, the Lakers need a strong performance from a variety of players -- especially those at power positions like
The Lakers have beaten the Rockets without Howard before this season, but Bryant scored 29 in that game.
A win for the home team will be difficult on Sunday night.