This week on ESPN the Rockets battle the Lakers in a Howard focused game, the Nets play the Heat at Barclays Center and the battle of Los Angeles is due for its second instalment of the season!Last week the NBA continued on ESPN with the Minnesota Timberwolves winning a high scoring affair against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers rallying without the injured Chris Paul to win over the Dallas Mavericks. Lets see what you can look forward to this week on Foxtel! Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers Time & Date: Thursday 9th January from Toyota Center Coverage: LIVE at 1:30pm AEDT The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers have squared off once already this season which resulted in a thrilling buzzer beater three pointer by Steve Blake to cap off a 99-98 Lakers win. Dwight Howard was a liability for Houston as the hack-a-Howard strategy was employed by Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni late in the game, Howard finished 5-16 from the line. Somehow the last game of the season series in Houston followed by another two games in Los Angeles seem to be easy killings for Howard. With starters Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre the main big men anchoring the defense for L.A points will come in bucket loads, a prime example was the 137 points the Lakers allowed against the Denver Nuggets in their last home game. This was the most amount by any team on the Lakers floor in non-OT games since 1984. Kobe Bryant will continue to be missed by everyone except Howard, which leaves the high scoring James Harden and Chandler Parsons to wreak havoc on the offensive end. Watch For: Offense, offense, offense. Last time around the Rockets shot an extremely rare 37.7% from the field and put up 98 points, expecting them to shoot around 50% this game could result in a 120-130 point game. Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat Time & Date: Saturday 11th January from Barclays Center Coverage: LIVE at 12:00pm AEDT Similarly to above, the first game of this season series was another upset when the Brooklyn Nets won against the Miami Heat 101-100 back on November 2. The game had plenty of momentum swings, as in each quarter a team was being outscored by nine or more points. It was one of the few Brooklyn wins and even though a playoff push is not in the picture right now, if performances like these come back then they are legitimate threats to win the Eastern Conference. It will have to be done with Brook Lopez who is lost for the season due to injury, but this opens doors for Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, as they are all used to playing bigger roles within the team in their career's then they have to date with the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce was the go to man in the most recent win over Miami, he played the most minutes (31) and produced all around with 19 points (5-10 shooting), 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 8-8 free throw shooting. Joe Johnson was a spot up shooter and nabbed 19 points which were mainly set up by point guard Williams who totalled 8 assists. Miami unsurprisingly leaned on LeBron James who lead the team in scoring (26 points), rebounds (7), assists (6) and unfortunately turnovers (5). A larger outing from the bench would really help Miami win this time around. Watch For: Nicknames on player jerseys. This is the first game in NBA history that player chosen nicknames will appear on their playing uniforms, replacing the player last name for one game only. Ray Allen has garnered a lot of attention already with his choice to wear J. Shuttlesworth as his nickname. Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers Time & Date: Saturday 11th January from Staples Center Coverage: LIVE at 2:30pm AEDT Battle of Los Angeles will this time be fought without either sides biggest weapons as Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul are missing, but there's still plenty of stars to fulfil the fight. There's a twin towers feel about the Los Angeles Clippers now that DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have further stepped up their games in the absence of Paul. Jordan has particularly elevated as he's leading the league in rebounds and swatted an incredible eight shots against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday to support 17 rebounds and 14 points. That was the effect Dwight Howard gave to the Los Angeles Lakers last season however they are now extremely thin on the front line with Pau Gasol the only reputable big man receiving minuets for the Lakers and even he can only do so much. Kendall Marshall has been a welcome replacement for Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry, he's averaging 13 points and 13 assists in 36 minutes over his last three games. The Clippers need to win games like these to continue their fight for home court advantage come the playoffs and every win for the next 3-6 weeks carries more worth than a normal regular season win due to Paul's injury. Watch For: Laker heart and pride. Not many people are giving the Lakers any chance to win this game or to even win enough to make the playoffs, battling a home town team will mean the Lakers stop at nothing to stay in the playoff hunt and to attain the edge over their Los Angeles foe.