Lakers @ Rockets preview: Houston, We have a Mamba

Kobe Bryant had arguably his worst game in a Lakers uniform (3-20 FG, 7 TO) as the Jazz stunned the Lakers at Staples Center Sunday night. Only their third loss at home all season, the Lakers look to bounce back on the road against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Here are 4 pregame story lines for tonight’s game:

Houston in Lone-Star State

Okay Lakers fans, this is getting ridiculous. The Lakers hit the road to travel to Houston where they once again face a team missing multiple star players. The Rockets will be without guards Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin in this Western Conference matchup which means Houston will be without two of their best three players and Luis Scola will have a huge load to carry tonight. The Lakers need to take advantage of these fortunate breaks, especially against teams like the Rockets fighting for a playoff spot.

Dragic Houston’s New “Rocket Man”

Despite the absence of Lowry and Martin, Lakers point guards Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions will have their hands full with Rockets point guard Goran Dragic. Dragic has been sensational since replacing Lowry in the starting lineup and has averaged double digit assists as Houston’s new “Rocket Man.” The Lakers interior defense needs to be strong tonight as Dragic will look to get Luis Scola and Courtney Lee as many easy buckets as possible.

Kobe to lose Black Mamba mask

Maybe the plan was to lose the Mamba mask in Houston all along or perhaps Kobe Bryant is just superstitious after having his worst game as a Los Angeles Laker. Whatever the reason, Kobe is going to play tonight without the Mamba mask for the first time since Dwayne Wade’s hard foul. It will be interesting to see how Bryant bounces back after his terrible shooting night, especially without the protective mask. Stay tuned Lakers fans.

Ramon Sessions, Jordan Hill, Derek Fisher trade, Lakers trade

New Lakers Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill should get key minutes tonight in Houston. Wake up Jordan!

Lakers and Rockets Trade Places

Speaking of new faces, the Lakers and Rockets were busy at the NBA trading deadline and will showcase some of their acquisitions tonight. The Lakers traded fan favorite Derek Fisher to Houston for Jordan Hill, who should see his first minutes as a Laker. Fisher has since been bought out by Houston but they will have their new big man Marcus Camby to match up against the likes of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. And of course new Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions will play an instrumental role in getting his teammates involved while keeping Dragic in check.

Lakers fans, do you think the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant bounces back from his worst shooting night in a Lakers uniform? Do you think ditching the Mamba mask will negatively affect his performance tonight?

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