Health (or lack there of) the Story in Houston

A great deal of talent that surely would have played a key role in Tuesday’s Western Conference matchup between L.A. and Houston won’t even get onto the court … And it’s not just the Lakers that are hurting.

Houston will certainly be without Tracy McGrady, and most likely Ron Artest, while the Lakers will go forward without Sasha Vujacic (who remained in Los Angeles on Tuesday and is also doubtful for Wednesday’s game in San Antonio), Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton and, possibly, Lamar Odom.

Odom did participate in 3-on-3 drills on Monday and shootaround on Tuesday, and said that he’s feeling better since originally hyper-extending his knee. So while he’s the most likely to play, Odom will be a game-time decision. Surely LO’s ball-handling abilities could be used with the Lakers so paper-thin in the backcourt.

And, since Sun Yue could see more playing time than perhaps he’s ready for (Kobe and Fish, get ready for 40 minutes…), it’ll be particularly important for the Lakers to force-feed Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Not only is Bynum’s scoring up and Gasol due to come back strong from a poor shooting performance (remember last time Gasol struggled at home before exploding at Golden State for 33?), but Yao Ming is the Rockets’ only player big enough to stand alongside L.A.’s front line. That’s not a good thing for Houston, since Yao’s defense is nothing to write home about.

Check back before the game, when we’ll hopefully have some more news on Odom in particular.