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Rockets stun Lakers with small-ball experiment

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Uh, that was a weird one.

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Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers were the first team to see the Houston Rockets since they made the bold commitment to super small ball by trading their starting center Clint Capela and opting not to replace him with another big man. Suffice to say, the Lakers weren’t prepared for the weirdness the Rockets had in store for them, as they lost 121-111 at Staples Center on Thursday.

Going into the game, the expectation was that the Lakers were going to bully the smaller Rockets in the paint with their trio of big men, which is headlined by All-Star starter Anthony Davis, and dominate the glass. While the Lakers out-rebounded the Rockets, it was only 38-37.

Meanwhile, Davis was the only Lakers big man to make an impact, tallying 32 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. That’s because the Rockets were able to make JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard non-factors by staying low in the post. As a result, McGee and Howard were limited to a combined 19 minutes, with Howard playing less than five minutes.

The thing that really did the Lakers in, though, was the amount of minutes Rajon Rondo played. Rondo finished the game with a game-low -14 and shot a game-low 20% from the field. Kyle Kuzma was just as woeful, going 2-8 from the field and letting Russell Westbrook get whatever he wanted at the rim. If those two guys don’t have it, the bench unit doesn’t have it.

Hopefully Darren Collison saw where he can help the Lakers by watching them play up close. Otherwise, there are only going to be more games like this.

The Lakers will next head up north on Saturday to take on the Golden State Warriors, who own the league’s worst record at 12-40.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.