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Preview: Lakers at Rockets

James Harden, left, is averaging 26.4 points for the Houston Rockets.
(Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

When the Lakers (15-18) visit the Houston Rockets (20-14) on Tuesday night, they’ll have to do it with less than three-quarters of their roster.

Dwight Howard is out with a torn labrum (shoulder), Pau Gasol has a concussion, Jordan Hill has a hip injury and Steve Blake is recovering from abdominal surgery.

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The Rockets are one of the hottest teams in the league, scoring a league-high 106.2 points per game. Houston gives up a lot of points (103.4) but as short-handed as the Lakers are, will they have enough firepower?

Key Matchup

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James Harden was just selected the Western Conference player of the week. The Rockets shooting guard is averaging 26.4 points, 5.3 assists and two steals.

Kobe Bryant vs. James Harden should be entertaining, even if the Lakers start rookie center Robert Sacre and use Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Metta World Peace on the front line. Bryant is averaging 30.5 points on 48.1% shooting, playing 39 minutes a night.

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X factor

Jamison hasn’t gotten much playing time recently for D’Antoni. He could end up starting at power forward or at least filling a major role off the bench.

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Chandler Parsons is a difficult cover, averaging 14 points a game. He’s had some big performances against the Lakers this season.

Outlook

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Based on how the Lakers have been playing, especially on defense, it’s difficult to envision them getting enough stops against the Rockets with Howard, Gasol and Hill sidelined.

ALSO:

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Lakers fall to Nuggets, 112-105, for third straight loss

Kobe Bryant expresses self-doubt about end of career

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Mitch Kupchak says Lakers ‘not running on all cylinders’

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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