The Los Angeles Lakers returned home Sunday night to take on the Houston Rockets for the third and final time this season. After losing seven straight, the Lakers were in need of a win and hoped to deliver one in Staples Center.
The two teams split their previous two matchups with the road team taking the victory each time. As was the case in their second game, Rockets center Dwight Howard sat out the game as he nursed an ankle injury.
The Lakers still had their hands full as they looked to stop MVP candidate and NBA leading scorer James Harden and the rest of the Rockets. Starting for the Lakers were Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill, and Robert Sacre.
The first Laker basket was scored by Hill who converted on a hook shot. A feed from Hill to Sacre gave the Lakers a quick 4-2 lead, but the Rockets tied it on their next shot. Two straight Laker turnovers allowed the Rockets to take the lead off a Harden layup and foul. The Rockets eventually went up as much as seven until a Hill jumper brought the score to 11-6. Patrick Beverly hit a corner three to give the Rockets an eight point lead midway through the quarter. The deficit grew to ten, but Ellington hit a two in response. Two straight threes from Harden put the Rockets up 14 and brought his scoring total to 13. The Lakers came within 12 after Jeremy Lin found Ed Davis in transition, but as the quarter came to a close, the Lakers found themselves trailing 30-15.
Davis started the scoring after having a Nick Young miss fall into his hands under the rim. The Lakers had trouble stopping the Rockets in transition as the deficit grew to 17 when Jason Terry made a layup. Boozer brought it to 14 with a jump shot, but the Rockets went on to score six unanswered points which was capped off by a Corey Brewer dunk. Another Boozer jumper ended the drought as the Rockets began to turn the ball over, but the Lakers were still down 42-25. Harden put the Rockets up 19 with a transition layup which was quickly answered with a Sacre turnaround. Clarkson got his first field goal after driving to the rim and hitting a tough jumper to bring the Lakers within 15. Despite making a late basket from Hill,the Lakers entered the break down 52-46.
A Hill jumper started things off for the Lakers who already conceded a Trevor Ariza putback dunk. Ellington got the next two baskets for the Lakers after hitting a jumper of his own and a three pointer. The deficit grew to 20 after Kelly fouled Harden during a three point attempt. Kelly hit two free throws to bring the score to 65-47 before Josh Smith made a hook shot. Baskets from Clarkson and Wes Johnson got the Lakers within 16, but Smith again responded with another hook shot. The Lakers went down by 23 when Jason Terry nailed a corner three which followed a Harden transition layup. The final minutes of the quarter continued to go in the Rockets’ favor despite field goals from Boozer, Clarkson, and Johnson as the Lakers ended the quarter down 80-60.
Johnson passed up a corner three and found Davis for a dunk to begin the Laker scoring in the fourth. Another Terry three brought the Rocket lead to 25 before Johnson hit a three point shot while also drawing a foul or Ariza. The Lakers cut into the lead to under 20 after an Ellington score. Ellington continued to shine as the Lakers enjoyed a 12-2 run which brought the score to 89-74. The Rockets brought back their starting backcourt, but the Laker run continued with a Tarik Black layup. A pair of Lin free throws brought the Lakers within 11, but Brewer hit a corner three to end the Rockets’ scoring drought. Lin continued to attack and get to the foul line, but the Lakers couldn’t get any closer. The Lakers would ultimately fall by a score of 99-87.
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