Healthy and back home after a road trip, the Lakers looked rejuvenated on Saturday night as they cruised to a 107-97 victory over the Rockets.
Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves dominated the game after both had slow starts. AD scored 27 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and five blocks. Reaves was cooking in the second quarter and finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals.
LeBron James added 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds Cam Reddish had 11 points in his return while Max Christie had 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Taurean Prince started the Lakers off with a 3-pointer. AD was inadvertently elbowed in the face by Jalen Green and then hit again by Jabari Smith Jr. and was having visible discomfort. He stayed in the game.
Much of the first quarter was slow for the Lakers as the Rockets took off with the lead. Despite playing much better as the quarter was winding down, the Rockets led 30-25 at the end.
LeBron started heating up in the second quarter and was the only one from both teams in double figures with 10 points. Dillon “The Villian” Brooks was given a technical foul, much to the joy of the fans at Crypto.
An AD block leading into a Reaves dunk helped push the Lakers' lead to five. An 18-2 run pushed the lead to nine. Reaves scored 15 points in 15 minutes, after starting the game off slow. The Lakers led 60-44 at the half.
Austin Reaves doing Austin Reaves things pic.twitter.com/1BjPkVjaiC— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 3, 2023
The Rockets were able to get the lead down to 10 after the Lakers were having trouble making shots to start the third. They kept hovering around and didn’t let the Lakers push their lead further. A Max Christie buzzer-beating 3-pointer helped the Lakers close out the quarter up 14, 86-72.
The fourth quarter began with the Lakers extending their lead to 19. After a few players were exchanging some not-so-friendly words, Rockets coach Ime Udoka was ejected after he was given a second technical on the night.
The Lakers kept their foot on the gas for much of the quarter. As the game was winding down, the Rockets were being pesky and made it a 10-point game. Even with a sudden Rockets surge, it wasn’t enough as the Lakers held on to win.
Once again, a sluggish start had them down, but they were able to respond very well. The slow starts need to disappear!
The collective defensive effort tonight was great. Seven blocks (five of which belonged to AD) and 11 steals as a team was very impressive. An honorary mention to Christie for his hard work tonight, especially his defense on Fred VanVleet a few times.
Keeping turnovers to single digits tonight is proof that this team thrives when they don’t turn the ball over 10+ times.
The Lakers’ next game is the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at 7:00 PM PT.
You can follow Karin on Twitter at @KarinAbcarians.