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News » ROCKETS SUMMARY 2009-04-04


TONIGHT: Rockets at L.A. Lakers

When/where: 930 p.m.; Staples Center, Los Angeles.

TV/radio: FSH, ESPN; 610 AM, 850 AM (Spanish).

Key matchup: Ron Artest vs. Kobe Bryant. Bryant took apart Artest down the stretch in Houston, scoring 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, inspired in part by Artest's trash talking. Artest made 4-of-16 shots for 11 points.

Rockets update: The Rockets have lost their past two road games, to the Jazz and Suns, and are 0-3 against the Lakers this season. The Rockets are 18-19 on the road, but have won four of their past seven games against Los Angeles at Staples Center.

Lakers update: The Lakers will be playing their first game since a seven-game road trip, having gone 5-2 on the trip, but falling two games behind the Cavaliers in the race for the NBA's best record. Kobe Bryant has been playing with a sprained right ankle, but had 30 points and eight rebounds in the win in Milwaukee to end the trip. Center Andrew Bynum is out while coming back from torn right knee ligaments.


Get back on D

As much as the Rockets' six-minute, fourth-quarter offensive shutdown led to a 15-0 Suns' run that was too much to overcome, the Rockets were at least as troubled by their poor defense in the first half.

The Suns made 80 percent of their shots in the first quarter and their starters made 73 percent of their attempts in the first half, building a lead as large as 13 points.

"In last night's game, we dropped our defense," Rockets center Yao Ming said. "I think we need to get it back in (today's) game. Defense is not just about the skill; it is also about attitude. That attitude will point you to the way we should go. Last night, we didn't show up."

It's just business

When the Rockets faced the Lakers last month, Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and mocked Ron Artest for trash-talking down the stretch. Artest described their competition as fun and said on Thursday that it won't go beyond that when the teams meet tonight.

"The only thing that is really serious is the competition," Artest said. "If anybody thinks they're going to see any type of dramatic fight, they might as well watch another game or watch another sport because that's not going to happen.

"It's business. It's not personal because I got a team of guys that I got to worry about. I can't be worried about just one other player and they have a great team."

Downplaying Artest-Kobe

As much as Rockets coach Rick Adelman does not want Ron Artest to let himself get involved with a personal duel with the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, he said that Artest might spend just as much time defending Lamar Odom, who missed the last game between the teams, anyway.

"It's not about him and Kobe," Adelman said. "It's about us, how we're going to play. You can't get locked up in him against Kobe.

"A lot of times, he won't even be matched up with Kobe. Ron will play (Odom) quite a bit, I would think, because he's our best defender on him."

Good luck charm

The Rockets returned to the Clippers' practice facility for Thursday's workout, having successfully gone from their previous practice there to a win the next night.

"The last time here we just had a bad loss against the Lakers and we practiced here before a flight to Phoenix," Yao Ming said. "Now we changed it. We had a loss in Phoenix and now we came here and will play the Lakers tomorrow.

"Hopefully, this will be our lucky place and we can turn it around like last time."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 4, 2009


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