Los Angeles Lakers: Kendall Marshall Key to Stopping the Bleeding Against Houston Rockets

By Ryan Heckman

Things are not going well for the Los Angeles Lakers at the moment. In a season that was supposed to be highlighted by the return of Kobe Bryant and the 5-time champion kickstarting a postseason run, the Lakers have gone in the opposite direction. Los Angeles is beat up — real beat up.

The Lakers take on the Houston Rockets Wednesday night having lost eight of their last nine games, with a mark of 14-21 after having hovered around .500 for a while to begin the year. The Lakers will be without Bryant, of course, but also a few more key players that were big early on this year.

Los Angeles will also be without Steve Blake, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash due to injury. What does that mean for a Lakers team that is looking to turn things around against one of the Western Conference’s top teams in the Rockets?

Well, for starters, Kendall Marshall is going to have to continue to step up. In seven games with the Lakers, Marshall is averaging 9.7 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 6.9 assists while playing about 24 minutes per game. His recent success with the team has been one of the few highlights as of late.

Secondly, the Lakers are going to have to win a huge battle down low. Dwight Howard against Pau Gasol is going to decide a big part of this game. Can Gasol contain Howard defensively? Can he score on Howard consistently enough to allow the offense to be multi-faceted and less predictable without many of their key players?

The Rockets are 14-5 at home this season and look like a team that will blow Los Angeles out of the water. But, that’s exactly why they play the game, right? We’ll see if Marshall can ignite a spark even more so than he has in his first seven games, and if Gasol can pour in a monster game, ultimately leading to a Lakers victory.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.