The Houston Rockets team against whom L.A. plays on Saturday night in Texas don’t look much like the group that started against the Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference Semis, or even like the team they faced twice back in November.
In Game 1 of the WCS, Houston started Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, Ron Artest, Luis Scola and Yao Ming, Yao going for 28 and 10 in a 100-92 Rockets win.
Then in L.A.’s last game in Houston, on Nov. 4 earlier this season, Houston started Brooks, Battier, Trevor Ariza, Scola and Chuck Hayes in a 103-102 OT win for the Lakers thanks to 41 points from Kobe Bryant.
But on Saturday, the Rockets’ lineup will look like this: Brooks, Ariza, Scola, Hayes and … we’ll see? Kevin Martin, acquired in a trade for Carl Landry, starts at shooting guard for Houston, but he’ll miss the game with a sore left shoulder, meaning that backup guard Kyle Lowry or second round pick Chase Budinger could get the nod.
Either way, Brooks and Scola are the only remaining starters from last season’s Rockets team. Yao has been out all season after undergoing left foot surgery, Battier sprained the MCL in his left knee and Artest now starts for the Lakers. Houston’s also missing David Andersen (sore lower back), Jordan Hill (sprained left ankle) and Jared Jeffries (strained left Achilles), the latter two having come over from the Knicks in a trade featuring Tracy McGrady.
The Lakers are again without starting center Andrew Bynum (strained left Achilles) and Luke Walton (pinched nerve in back), but retain four regular starters.
Tune into KCAL or 710 ESPN for a 5:30 p.m. tip to catch the action, and as always, you can follow me on Twitter for live updates (@LakersReporter).