Los Angeles, CA (Sporting Alert) — The Los Angeles Lakers face a must win game on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets to win the final playoff place in the Western Conference.
Time, Date: 10:30 PM ET, April 17, 2013
Place: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Live TV Channel: ESPN
The Lakers (45-36) and the Utah Jazz are both battling for that last slot, but a victory for the Kobe Bryant-less team would send them into the playoffs.
Dwight Howard, who is averaging 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, is coming off a 26 points and 17 rebounds outing in the 91-86 home win over the San Antonio Spurs and he believes it’s a great opportunity to prove that they are no flop.
“This is a great opportunity for myself and this team to show who we are,” said Howard.
“We’ve got to give it everything we’ve got. We’re going to fight to the end and do our best. Despite whatever has happened this season, we’ve got a chance to win this next game, go into the playoffs and make history.
“With Kobe out, I understand that I have to do more and be more for this team. This is a great opportunity for me, and I believe I can do it.”
Lakers will again be without veteran guard Steve Nash, who continues to be hampered by injuries, so Steve Blake, who scored a season-high 23 points on Sunday will continue to handle the ball.
With Bryant out the battle for that final slot seems very difficult against and very tough Rocket (45-36) team, but Lakers forward Pau Gasol is keeping the belief.
“We have players that won’t give up, that won’t quit,” said Gasol. “We’ve been through quite a bit this season, but we’re still here, and we’re going to continue to be here as long as we can.”
Meanwhile, Houston stars James Harden and Jeremy Lin are both expecting a strong challenge from the injury hit Lakers side, while head coach Kevin McHale echoed the same statement.
“We are going to play a very determined L.A. team,” McHale said. “We have to play well.”
Victory for the Los Angeles Lakers at STAPLES Center tonight will see them taking the seventh-seeded spot and avoid a first round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.