LeBron James posted his fifth triple-double of the season and Russell Westbrook had one of his best scoring games of the year but the Lakers had one of their most hilariously dumb losses of the season in overtime, 139-130.
After wasting two chances to win the game in regulation against one of the worst teams in the league, the Lakers watched Houston boat race them in overtime by burying a barrage of long-range efforts as part of their 17 3-pointers on the night.
Starting at center once again, James recorded 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists but it was Westbrook who led the way in scoring, notching 30 points on 11-22 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists. But defense was non-existent throughout the night as Houston scored 62 points in the paint against the small ball Lakers.
The game featured a healthy dose of ties and lead changes with the lead never reaching double digits on the night in regulation. In total, there were 13 lead changes and nine ties.
In one of their few remaining games against teams below .500 on the season, the Lakers tossed away the chance to put separation between them and the teams chasing them in the play-in games. Following the loss, LA is now just 1.5 games up on the Pelicans and 2.5 games up on the Blazers in the 10th and 11th seeds, respectively.
The Lakers started the game off with an alley-oop to Malik Monk as they scored the first six points of the game, all in the paint. After Houston got back into the game to make it just a two-point game, the Lakers exploded again to lead 16-8.
A small run from the Rockets eventually gave way to the two teams trading baskets for the remainder of the quarter. The hot shooting transferred from the paint to the 3-point line for the Lakers as they hit six first-quarter 3-pointers to lead 38-32 heading into the second.
Old friend Dennis Schröder helped guide the Rockets not just back into the game but into the lead after a lay-up put the hosts ahead 47-45. Houston remained ahead of the Lakers throughout the remainder of the quarter with the lead peaking at six points with a Kevin Porter Jr. 3-point play to put the hosts up 59-53.
For all his struggles of late, Westbrook kept the Lakers afloat for much of the half, scoring 17 points on 6-9 shooting with five rebounds and five assists. Schröder’s 3-pointer — giving him 10 points in the half — with 10 seconds remaining in the half was answered by Austin Reaves’ 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and send the Lakers into the half down 68-63.
A run to open the second half featuring 3-pointers from Reaves and Malik Monk and baskets from LeBron James and Westbrook tied the game at 75-75. Houston opened up a multi-possession lead in response but again the Lakers closed the gap back to a point after a pair of free throws from Reaves.
Yet again, the Rockets got into the paint against the small ball Lakers and opened up a six-point lead after a three-point play from Alperen Sengun, giving him 11 points in the third quarter alone. After falling down by eight points, the Lakers reeled off a 7-0 run to stay within touch.
Wenyen Gabriel’s first real minutes of the season helped spark a run to close the quarter before fellow new signee DJ Augustin beat the buzzer with putback jumper for his 12th and 13th points of the night to give the Lakers a 98-97 lead heading into the final frame.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the first half of the fourth quarter, including a monster dunk from LeBron.
However, Houston answered immediately with a 3-pointer to take back the lead as neither side could find separation.
A key challenge from head coach Frank Vogel overturned a foul call on Reaves and eventually led to the Lakers opening up a 3-point lead after a Westbrook layup. Again, it was short-lived though as Jalen Green knocked down a pull-up jumper with two minutes to go up two points.
In desperate need of a stop, James swatted Sengun at the rim before Westbrook tied the game with just over a minute left. LeBron came up with another huge block but the Lakers had two empty possessions to close the game, LeBron missing a fadeaway jumper that went out-of-bounds off a Rocket before Carmelo Anthony missed a game-winning jumper as time expired to force overtime.
Given an extra life, the Rockets blew the doors off the Lakers in the extra session, opening up the first double-digit lead of the game by scoring the first 10 points of the overtime. Even with having a 3-pointer wiped off for coming after the shot clock buzzer, Houston went entirely unchallenged in the extra session and won with absolute ease.
The Lakers return home for a one-game stand on Friday with their first meeting of the season against the Washington Wizards and former Lakers Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The game will be on Spectrum SportsNet as well as NBATV with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m. PT.