NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Houston 32 26 32 16 106
LA Lakers 22 30 31 28 111
7:30 PM PT8:30 PM MT9:30 PM CT10:30 PM ET3:30 GMT11:30 8:30 PM MST10:30 PM EST7:30 UAE (+1)04:3022:30 ET9:30 PM CTNaN:� , February 21, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California  Attendance: 18,997

Rockets eager to relaunch vs. Lakers for playoff stretch

According to STATS
According to STATS

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

  1. The Rockets have won 17 of their past 20 meetings with the Lakers, including all three meetings this season. Since January 1, 2014, only the Los Angeles Clippers have a better record (18-3) against the Lakers than the Rockets (17-3).
  2. After starting the season 11-14, the Rockets were last in their division through games on December 8. Since then, Houston has gone 22-10 and is now in first place. The Rockets have averaged 50.0 points per game off three-pointers since December 9, while the next closest team, the Warriors, is averaging 41.4.
  3. The Lakers lost eight of their last 12 games before the All-Star break, allowing opponents to score 124.8 points per game over that stretch. That is the most points Los Angeles has ever allowed in a 12-game span all-time.
  4. James Harden is averaging 10.0 free throws made per game this season. Only five players in NBA history have scored 10-plus points per game from the line in a season (Wilt Chamberlain: 1961-62, Oscar Robertson: 1963-64, Jerry West: 1965-66, Adrian Dantley: 1983-84 and Michael Jordan: 1986-87).
  5. LeBron James has attempted 228 three-pointers in 39 games this season, the first time he has ever taken more than 200 threes in his first 39 games of a season. He also leads the Lakers with 2.1 three-pointers made per game this season. He has not led a team in this stat since 2004-05 with Cleveland (minimum 50 percent of team games played).
  6. The Lakers have scored 56.2 points per game in the paint this season, the second-highest mark in the NBA. The Rockets have scored just 42.6 points per game in the paint this season, the lowest average in the league.
(Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets are expected to have their Opening Night starting lineup back together for the first time in two months when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, the first game back from the All-Star break for both teams.

Clint Capela is expected to return after undergoing thumb surgery and missing 15 games. Chris Paul missed 17 games from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25 before playing eight games leading up to the break.

They will rejoin with James Harden, a Los Angeles-area native who leads the NBA in scoring at 36.6 points a game.

"I think the break was good for everybody," Paul said. "Hopefully -- we're going to see -- it was a good break for everybody to get away for a couple of days."

Harden said he's hoping the Rockets can begin molding into playoff shape now that they're healthy and start playing like the team that pushed the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals last season.

"We haven't gotten there, but we will," Harden said. "We haven't been healthy yet. When we're a healthy group, we've had glimpses. So, hopefully, after this break, we can catch a rhythm. We just have to stay healthy."

The Lakers lost four of five and eight of 11 heading into the All-Star break. They will resume play in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, three games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers.

Lakers star LeBron James missed 17 games following Christmas with a groin injury, but returned to play five of six before the All-Star break.

"I feel pretty good where I'm at physically," he told reporters after practice Wednesday. "I'm rounding third base, sliding into home."

Los Angeles point guard Lonzo Ball remains out after missing the past 10 games with an ankle injury.

Josh Hart and Mike Muscala are probable for Thursday, however.

Hart, who has started 21 games at shooting guard this season, missed three of the past four games with a knee injury.

Muscala, a 6-11 power forward who the Lakers acquired from the Clippers at the trade deadline, missed the last game with an ankle injury. Los Angeles backup center Tyson Chandler is also questionable with a stiff neck.

Harden, Paul and Capela combined for 83 points in a 124-115 win against the Lakers on Oct. 20 at Staples Center.

Harden scored 50 and the trio combined for 80 points in a 126-111 win on Dec. 13 in Houston

Even without Paul and Capela in the lineup on Jan. 19, the Rockets won 138-134 in overtime, putting them in position for their second-ever season series sweep against the Lakers. Houston also went 4-0 against Los Angeles in 2015-16.

"If we went on a winning streak with me out, that was still not our team," Paul said. "If we won all our games with Clint out, that's not our team."

Harden, who is a favorite to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award for a second straight season, said he is eager to get started again.

"I'm just excited for the second half of the season and getting a full, healthy roster and taking it from there," Harden said.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 21, 2019

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