3:06 AM ET
Three games into their eight-game run of seeding games in the Orlando-area bubble, the Houston Rockets have defended in fits and spurts, alternatingly looking lackluster and vigorous when the mood hits.
The vim with which the Rockets (42-25) defended the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday was not enough to yield victory, with Houston taking its first loss since the season resumed.
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Lakers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Pacific Division. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, an arena shared with the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association, and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA, and have won 16 NBA championships, the second-most behind the Boston Celtics.
The franchise began with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League (NBL). The new team began playing in Minneapolis, calling themselves the Minneapolis Lakers. Initially a member of the NBL, the Lakers won the 1948 NBL championship before joining the rival Basketball Association of America, where they would win five of the next six championships, led by star George Mikan. After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan’s retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season.
Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost each series to the Celtics, beginning their long and storied rivalry. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Wilt Chamberlain, and won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972, led by new head coach Bill Sharman. After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also won multiple MVP awards, but was unable to make the Finals in the late 1970s.
The 1980s Lakers were nicknamed “Showtime” due to their fast break-offense led by Magic Johnson. The team won five championships in a nine-year span, and contained Hall of Famers Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, and was led by Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson retired, the team struggled in the early 1990s, before acquiring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. With the duo, who were led by another Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, the team won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002, securing the franchise its second “three-peat”. The Lakers won two more championships in 2009 and 2010, but failed to regain their former glory in the following decade.
The Lakers hold the record for NBA’s longest winning streak, 33 straight games, set during the 1971–72 season. Twenty-six Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, O’Neal, and Bryant—have won the NBA MVP Award for a total of eight awards.
Lakers vs. Rockets – Game Preview – August 6, 2020
A rocket (from Italian: rocchetto, lit. ‘bobbin’) is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle that obtains thrust from a rocket engine. Rocket engine exhaust is formed entirely from propellant carried within the rocket. Rocket engines work by action and reaction and push rockets forward simply by expelling their exhaust in the opposite direction at high speed, and can therefore work in the vacuum of space.
In fact, rockets work more efficiently in space than in an atmosphere. Multistage rockets are capable of attaining escape velocity from Earth and therefore can achieve unlimited maximum altitude. Compared with airbreathing engines, rockets are lightweight and powerful and capable of generating large accelerations. To control their flight, rockets rely on momentum, airfoils, auxiliary reaction engines, gimballed thrust, momentum wheels, deflection of the exhaust stream, propellant flow, spin, or gravity.
Rockets for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th-century China. Significant scientific, interplanetary and industrial use did not occur until the 20th century, when rocketry was the enabling technology for the Space Age, including setting foot on the Earth’s moon. Rockets are now used for fireworks, weaponry, ejection seats, launch vehicles for artificial satellites, human spaceflight, and space exploration.
Chemical rockets are the most common type of high power rocket, typically creating a high speed exhaust by the combustion of fuel with an oxidizer. The stored propellant can be a simple pressurized gas or a single liquid fuel that disassociates in the presence of a catalyst (monopropellant), two liquids that spontaneously react on contact (hypergolic propellants), two liquids that must be ignited to react, (like kerosene (RP1) and liquid oxygen, used in most liquid-propellant rockets) a solid combination of fuel with oxidizer (solid fuel), or solid fuel with liquid or gaseous oxidizer (hybrid propellant system). Chemical rockets store a large amount of energy in an easily released form, and can be very dangerous. However, careful design, testing, construction and use minimizes risks.
But those stretches against Portland showcased how feisty the Rockets can be. If Houston plays with that same determination against the Los Angeles Lakers (51-16) on Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the chances for success improve greatly.
“We’re doing better,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Sometimes we lack the aggressiveness and the energy on defense that we need to have. It’s a little bit of a choice. We’ve got to choose to be more aggressive and get out.
Lakers vs. Rockets – Game Preview – August 6, 2020
“We can improve that. We can improve some of our communication. We’re doing a good job of not making the same mistake over and over, but we’ve got to do a better job of being more aggressive on what we’re doing.”
The Rockets’ focus on their defense has steered attention from their erratic perimeter shooting in the bubble. While Houston has posted a 3-point percentage during the restart (36.4 percent) slightly above their season average (34.9 percent), the number of missed open looks has been concerning.
With opposing defenses aggressively double-teaming James Harden, the Rockets will need better marksmanship from forwards P.J. Tucker (33.3 percent on treys in the bubble) and Robert Covington (20.7 percent over the last three games).
Still, despite those issues, the Rockets have looked the part of a viable contender, particularly in marquee matchups such as the upcoming tilt.
“It’s a value playing every single game right now,” Tucker said. “Eight games to get as much time to get back acquainted and figure everything out, the different ways people are playing us, to get back used to doing everything that we were used to.
“So every single game no matter who we play, I feel like they’re giving us different looks and it’s more learning experience for us to get ready for the playoffs.”
With the top seed for the playoffs in the Western Conference clinched, the Lakers entered the final five games of the eight-game seeding restart with little to play for tangibly.
Their performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday bordered on uninspired, with the Thunder holding the Lakers to 35.2 percent shooting and leading wire-to-wire in a 105-86 win.
The Lakers played their regulars against the Thunder aside from Dwight Howard (right knee soreness). The team has have made no clear plans for how it will address minutes for the frontline performers over the final four games in the bubble.
“Yeah, we haven’t made any final decisions on that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “The plan right now is to play those guys. We still have a lot of areas to continue to improve before we feel like we’re ready to win games in the playoffs and to be at the level we want to reach.
“So for us, we’re still in habit-building mode and just continuing to iron some things out that we’re not quite where we were, in my opinion, when the hiatus hit. And so our mindset is to continue to play our guys and to get there.”
–Field Level Media