The Los Angeles Lakers failed to build on the momentum of their win Tuesday night, falling at home to the Houston Rockets, 107-87. Los Angeles reverted to its early season habit of starting slowly, digging a 16-point hole in the first quarter that proved insurmountable over the course of the game.
The Lakers couldn't find an offensive rhythm in the first half despite facing on the league's bottom-five defenses, perhaps providing a compelling argument for Byron Scott to once again reshuffle the starting lineup. The team shot under 35 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes, including 25 percent from 3-point range, and compounded that by only making 4-of-9 free throws.
Kobe Bryant managed to bring some life to Staples Center in the third quarter with a vintage Mamba moment after a listless opening session. Bryant missed six of his first nine shots, but made attempt number ten count, driving past his old teammate Trevor Ariza for a powerful dunk over Clint Capela and even smiling afterwards instead of unleashing his usual snarl. That moment was the loudest the crowd would get all night other than brief spurts of booing Dwight Howard.
The dunk spurred a mini-surge for Bryant, who hit his next three shots as the Lakers pulled to within seven, but Los Angeles would get no closer than five points for the rest of the game. The team was a little too sloppy with the ball during their comeback attempt, and seven turnovers in the final period led to an easy victory for the Rockets.
Although the starting lineup was badly outplayed by Houston's, Larry Nance, Jr. had some nice moments for the Lakers, scoring 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting - his first double-digit output since being promoted from the bench. Julius Randle also chipped in 18 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double in his last 11 games.
The other Los Angeles youngsters had a rather forgettable outing, however. Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell combined for only 14 points on 23 shots, including nine missed 3-pointers.
The Lakers return to action Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City.