The Los Angeles Lakers almost made it two trips to Texas in a row with an upset victory over the Houston Rockets, but Chris Paul would put the finishing touches on the Lakers in a 148-142 double-overtime thriller. The Lakers gave one of their best efforts in the last few weeks, but couldn’t snap their losing streak to cap off 2017.
Gerald Green nailed the three-pointer that forced the first round of overtime off a dime from Chris Paul. The Lakers had a chance to take the final shot with 17 seconds on the game clock, which wound up being a questionable well-beyond-the-arc three-pointer from Kuzma that didn’t go down. Brandon Ingram, a 66 percent free-throw shooter on the season, would go on to drain all six of his attempts from the line through the first overtime, including a pair in the final seconds to force extra-extra basketball.
Finally, down two with 5.7 seconds left, the Lakers came up short after PJ Tucker disrupted Kuzma as he gathered the inbound pass. Paul would close out the game with free-throws, and the calendar year ended with a loss for the Lakers.
Julius Randle had his best game of the season, playing with purpose to start the game and carry the offensive workload early. The first quarter was an up-and-down battle, and the Lakers were able to run with the Rockets because Randle was grooving. He finished the first quarter with 14 points and seven rebounds. Randle ended the night with 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, but would foul out in the first overtime after trying to poke away a rebound.
The decision to start Tyler Ennis and Josh Hart together in the backcourt went well for the Lakers. It was another Lakers rookie enjoying a career-high night with Hart adding in 26 points, coming up with big plays on both ends of the floor all night before finally fouling out. Ennis notched a double-double, scoring 20 points with 11 assists.
James Harden ate up the Lakers’ defense all night, piling on 40 points before having his night end early after tweaking what appeared to be his left hamstring on a layup attempt in the fourth quarter. Harden gave the purple and gold a clinic in free-throw shooting, going 17-of-21 from the charity stripe.
The Lakers giving up 44 points in the first quarter, then getting outscored 32-21 in the fourth, would ultimately be too grave of mistakes to walk away with a win. They’ll head out to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves to start 2018 with more Lakers basketball for everyone.
Happy New Year!