Houston Rockets (4-5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (4-5)
At long last, the Lakers will have their man on the bench.
Mike D'Antoni is expected to make his Lakers debut tonight in Los Angeles when his Lakers take on the Rockets. The turmoil of the last few weeks seems to have faded and Los Angeles is actually winning games. Kobe Bryant is leading the league in scoring and even Dwight Howard is starting to look a bit healthier.
The Lakers still will be without Steve Nash and so tonight's offense might be a watered-down version with Bryant leading some pick and rolls or Pau Gasol operating at the elbow. It will remain a feeling out process for sure in the early going.
Defensively is where D'Antoni will have to make sure he is on his game — or that Howard is. James Harden has taken the league by storm in the early going and continues to pour in points. This does nto seem to be a one-week wonder but rather the kind of play the Rockets expect from Harden every night.
I am also sure many of the Lakers remember the performance Jeremy Lin put on last year for the Knicks against them.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Royce White continues not to be with the team. But White said he is hopeful he can find a solution with the Rockets and return to the team.
-Dwight Howard is still cleaning up some of the mess he created when he signed away his early termination option last March. Howard said he had spoken with Deron Williams and wanted to play with his friend in Brooklyn, but Williams got impatient with him after that date and the dream of going to the Big Apple dwindled. Howard was hesitant about the Lakers, he admitted, becuase he did not want the ineviable comparisons to Shaquille O'Neal.
Tonight's Other Games
Indiana Pacers (4-6) vs. New York Knicks (6-1)
After a 6-0 start, the Knicks are believing they have championship mettle. No doubt the Knicks played fantastic to start the season. Now we see how they respond to their first loss. The Pacers have struggled on the offensive end, but are still a very capable team that could score an upset.
Orlando Magic (3-5) vs. Toronto Raptors (2-7)
The Raptors know they were extremely close to signing national hero Steve Nash. Nash said recently that his free agency came down to Toronto and New York and he would have played for both, but the Lakers came in at the 11th hour with a deal and a chance to compete for a championship.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2-7) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (5-4)
ESPN.com reports that Andrew Bynum may have done more damage to his knee while bowling a few days ago. No word yet how much longer Bynum will be out but he is not taking care of his knees clearly and the 76ers are left holding the bag. Not the year either party envisioned.
Brooklyn Nets (5-2) vs. Sacramento Kings (2-7)
Joe Johnson has been dogged by his contract since signing it in Atlanta. Despite leading that franchise to the Playoffs for the last five years, it was never enough. Brooklyn has turned into a fresh start for the veteran guard. And after a slow start to the season, Johnson is finding his rhythm and some comfort with the talented Nets roster.
Golden State Warriors (5-4) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-3)
ESPN.com came out with its list of early disappointments this season. That list included Kevin Durant, whose scoring has gone down as he works on other parts of his game. Stephen Curry also made that list as he has not quite taken over without Monta Ellis in the lineup with him.
Boston Celtics (6-4) vs. Detroit Pistons (1-9)
After watching Rajon Rondo record 20 assists in 30 minutes, Jason Terry said Rondo definitely could be an MVP candidate. Rondo does not do a whole ton of scoring, but he makes his teammates better by making plays for them and spreading the ball around. Rondo has a streak of getting at least 10 assists in every game this year.
Chicago Bulls (5-4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (4-5)
The Bulls suffered a big setback yesterday against the Clippers in a 20-plus-point loss. The Bulls still have some building to do without Derrick Rose in the lineup. Chicago has to hope it can correct the ship with the always difficult road trip to Portland.