After their disappointing last visit to Houston, the Lakers got revenge in their return, trouncing the Houston Rockets, 134-109. The victory was critical for seeding purposes as the regular season is about to enter the final week of play.
A game removed from avoiding serious injury, Anthony Davis was utterly dominant, dropping 40 points against the Rockets’ undersized front court.
LeBron James looked sharp as he continues to work himself back into game shape, ending the night with a triple-double: 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers’ bench mob also had a good game with Rui Hachimura leading the way as he had his best game since joining the team. He finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks.
With the victory, the Lakers improve to a season-best two games over .500 and take sole possession of the seventh place due to owning the tiebreaker over New Orleans.
The only blemish on an otherwise good win was an apparent injury to D’Angelo Russell. Russell was ruled out for the entire second half due to left foot soreness. Hopefully his second-half absence was more precautionary than something worrisome heading into the final week of the season.
The Lakers came out blazing with a 14-5 run initiated by Davis attacking the basket at every chance. Russell caught fire as well, hitting two threes in the first. By the end of the quarter, the result already felt like a foregone conclusion.
The second quarter only further confirmed this as despite the Rockets’ best efforts, they were unable to ever make a run or slow down the Lakers' momentum.
Houston did end up making a mini-run, bringing the score back to within single digits. But too many missed shots at the rim, bad fouls and poor transition defense prevented the Rockets from ever truly putting the game in jeopardy for Los Angeles.
With a James’ slam and a last-second runner from Hachimura, the Lakers were up by 18 heading into the final frame.
After a few more highlight plays, the Lakers’ lead ballooned to 24. This allowed James and Davis to rest early in the fourth quarter. An allowance that has been very rare this season, but only further highlights the team’s recent upswing.
Hachimura won’t always be as sharp as he was tonight, but having a player who can create his own shot and be automatic from the midrange off the bench is a luxury few teams have. The front office deserves credit for understanding Hachimura’s value, as does the coaching staff for putting him in a role that optimizes what he’s good at.
The Lakers enter the season’s final week with a back-to-back against the Jazz and Clippers. Given the importance of these final games, keeping everyone healthy the rest of the way will be pivotal.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.