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Is it ever smart to bet against Kobe?
Season Head-to-Head: HOU leads 2-1
Nov. 18 (119-108 LA)
Dec. 4 (107-105 HOU)
Jan. 8 (125-112 HOU)
April 17 (10:30 p.m. ET)
Tale of the Tape
There’s a reason the Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are only separated by three games.
This season, the two teams have played three times. Each team has a double-digit victory to its name, sandwiching a two-point Houston win.
The fourth showdown between the two takes place on the final day of the regular season on April 17 in Los Angeles. It could also be the game that decides whether the Lakers are playoff-bound or not.
During the three games, the Rockets have posted an offensive rating of 109.1 and a defensive rating of 109.4.
Who To Stop: Kobe Bryant
There’s not a more feared playoff competitor in the league right now than Bryant.
Through 75 games, he’s averaging 27 points, 6.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals over 38.4 minutes per game. Bryant has also shot 46.2 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from downtown.
Los Angeles could be trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter, but as long as Bryant is on the floor, the game is still winnable. That’s what he brings to a team.
In the three meetings with Houston, Bryant averaged 27 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.7 steals over 37.3 minutes per game. He also shot 43.7 percent from the floor. That includes a triple-double (22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) during a 119-108 Lakers win on Nov. 18 and a 39-point performance during the Rockets 107-105 victory on Dec. 4.
Stopping Bryant is nearly impossible. The best any team can attempt to do is to try and slow him down.
Houston and Los Angeles have met in the postseason a total of eight times. The Lakers have won five of those series.
The last meeting between the two teams was during the second round of the 2009 playoffs.
Los Angeles advanced in seven.
When they’re on, the Lakers are one of the toughest teams to beat.
Unfortunately, injuries have plagued the team throughout the season. Bryant (ankle), Steve Nash (hamstring/hip), Pau Gasol (foot) and Metta World Peace (knee) have all missed time with nagging injuries. World Peace even underwent surgery.
Although Dwight Howard finally appears to be healthy, everyone else is not.
That could end up being the Rockets' biggest advantage in the series.
Prediction: HOU in six
All stats used in this article are courtesy of NBA.com's Media Central
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