The Los Angeles Lakers got off to a hot start against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, leading by as much as 21 points in the first half, and looked like they were on their way to a comfortable victory.
Then the third quarter happened.
In the first few minutes after halftime, Lonzo Ball had to be carried off of the court, Luke Walton was ejected from the game and the Lakers couldn’t buy a bucket if they tried. After that, it was anyone’s game, but ultimately, it ended up being Houston’s night.
After leading by as much as eight points in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, the Rockets find their stroke from behind the arc and sent the game to overtime with a late three from Eric Gordon. Once in OT, the Rockets took their first lead of the contest and held on to narrowly beat the Lakers, 138-134.
It wasn’t that the Lakers didn’t come prepared to play, there were just a series of unfortunate events that cost Los Angeles the game. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the reality they faced on Saturday while already missing LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.
How many teams can stay in a game without their head coach and starting point guard against James Harden, who is putting up video game numbers in the month of January? Very few, if any, and probably none that are already missing a player as valuable as James.
A loss is a loss at the end of the day, but the Lakers showed heart from tip-off to the final buzzer. From a young team, that’s about all you can ask for, even if the Lakers needed more tonight.
The good news is that there were still a few long-term positives to take away from the game.
For one, Kyle Kuzma seems to have found his stroke from behind the arc, coming off of his career-high in threes on Thursday night to shoot 4-9 from behind the arc on his way to 32 points, 20 of which came in the first quarter.
It’s also being reported that the X-rays on Ball’s ankle came back negative, so even if he misses time, it shouldn’t be extended time.
A bit of good news for the Lakers while they try to hang onto this one. Lonzo Ball's X-Rays were negative for fractures, per source.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 20, 2019
The Lakers will be back at it on Monday to take on the Golden State Warriors. We’ll see you then. Until then, this one is going to sting, in our hearts and in the standings.