In a game where the Los Angeles Lakers led by as many as 17 points, the purple and gold failed to seize the moment once again, delivering another disappointing loss for a disappointing season thus far. The Houston Rockets climbed back into the game through the 4th quarter, riding the back of Greg Smith, and held the Lakers off for the final possession. Final score, 107-105, Rockets victory.
The Lakers controlled this game, leading by double digits almost the entire way. James Harden had an absolutely horrific game from the floor, shooting only 3-19. Chandler Parsons didn't play much better, hiding a 5-16 game behind Harden's clunker fest. Jeremy Lin was a non-factor, with only 4 points and 3 assists. Yet, the Rockets won. Toney Douglas made huge baskets down the stretch (22 points), Greg Smith (21 points and 9 rebounds) outplayed Dwight Howard through the 4th quarter, and the Lakers simply couldn't finish a game that began about as smooth as one could have hoped.
Houston shot 33.3% for the game, but had 19 more field goal attempts than the Lakers. How? Two factors. 18 despicable turnovers from the Lakers, and 21 embarrassing offensive rebounds for the Rockets. 39 total extra possessions for the Rockets to take advantage of a Lakers defense that repeatedly leaves shooters open, rotates poorly, and simply isn't good enough to withstand extra time of possession in the opponents hands.
Kobe Bryant had a team high 39 points, on a season high (for him) 31 field goal attempts. Antawn Jamison helped the Lakers build the 17 point lead, but his presence waned as the game progressed. Dwight Howard? It's time to rethink leaving Howard in when Hack-a-Dwight is in effect. Under the 4 minute mark in the 4th quarter, Houston had no shame in intentionally fouling Dwight. And, frankly, why should they? If he can't convert free throws, send him to the line and take advantage of his poor percentage from the line. He went 5-10 in those free throw attempts while Houston went down to the other end and found ways to score. A Toney Douglas three, a Greg Smith layup (and foul, which he fortunately missed for LA), James Harden free throws, and the Rockets put the Lakers in the rear view.
This was an awful way to kick off a brutal December road schedule. The win was all but tucked away for Los Angeles, yet the Rockets kept making plays and never gave up on finding extra possessions. Now, the Lakers travel to New Orleans to face the
Pelicans Hornets tomorrow night, with a day to let this ugly loss marinate. Full recap in the morning.
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