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Lakers, In Need Of Win, Host Rockets At Staples Center

After a pair of bad home losses, the Los Angeles Lakers need a win tonight as they host the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. The Lakers are just 9-7 against teams currently at .500 or better, and 24-8 against everybody else. The Rockets, at 22-27, fall into the latter category, but the Lakers still need to improve their play before they beat any team.

The Lakers posted a couple of dubious marks in Sunday's ugly loss to the Celtics at Staples Center. Their 10 assists as a team were the lowest total by the Lakers since Oct. 25, 1960, while Boston was a well-oiled offensive machine, handing out 34 assists on their 44 made field goals. Boston's 60.3% field goal percentage was their third-highest ever against the Lakers, regular or postseason.

Kobe Bryant suffered the slings of many arrows after his 41-points, zero-assist game on Sunday, but he was one of the few Lakers playing well on offense. Pau Gasol, for instance, was a non-factor with 12 points and seven rebounds, and made just five of 13 field goals. Gasol has shot under 40% in 13 different games this season, and the Lakers are 6-7 in those games.

The Rockets are led in scoring by Kevin Martin, at 23.0 points per game, but the surprise of the season is Luis Scola enjoying his finest season as a pro. Scola, in his fourth season, is averaging 19.3 points, a career high, and 8.4 rebounds, while shooting 50.2% from the field. Scola also hasn't missed a game in the NBA, with a consecutive games played streak of 295. Lakers' guard Derek Fisher holds the longest active streak in the NBA, playing in 461 straight contests.

The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Rockets. They have split two games this season, with each team winning at home. The Lakers beat the Rockets at Staples Center on opening night, turning a 15-point third-quarter deficit into a 112-110 victory. The Lakers lost in Houston on Dec. 1, a season-high fourth straight loss for the Lakers.

For more information on tonight's game, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.