The Lakers have been dismal on the road so far this season, losing by 50 combined points in their two road losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. Tonight their tough opening stretch continues as they face the Houston Rockets in hopes of ending their road struggles. The focus will obviously be on the Lakers facing Dwight Howard for the first time since he left them to join the Rockets this off-season. However, the Lakers should be most worried about James Harden who proved how big of a superstar he is with his performance last season. Chris Kaman will also be making his first start of the season so we have to keep an eye on Mike D’Antoni’s rotations going forward.
Nick Young got the scoring started with a basket and the foul. Dwight Howard went right at Gasol for the basket, but Kaman answered with a putback of his own to make the score 5-4. Steve Nash hit back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer, and Kaman follows with a midrange jumper as the Lakers were finally able to get a quick start with a 12-4 early lead. Steve Blake hit consecutive three pointers, both off an excellent passes from Nick Young and the Rockets have to take their second timeout with the Lakers up 20-8. Blake is on fire as he hit a third straight three pointer, but Harden and Lin would hit a couple drives and cut the lead to 24-12. Henry gets an easy fast break layup off a steal, but Harden answered with a bucket of his own. Beverly and Meeks trade threes and Farmar adds a bucket as the Lakers offense continued to light it up in the first quarter. The Lakers ended the quarter beautifully with a Hill basket and block, followed by a Johnson three at the buzzer. Lakers lead 36-19 after the first.
Meeks got the scoring started with his improved runner but Laker nemesis Jeremy Lin answers with two layups. Lin would draw a foul and knock down both free throws, but Farmar responded with a three to push the lead back to 16. Meeks ran a perfect fast break leading to a Farmar layup but Harden again beat the Lakers down the court and drew a foul before the timeout. A Harden three followed by a layup and the foul quickly cut the Lakers lead to 9. Beautiful ball movement lead to a wide open Meeks three and the lead went right back to 12. Lakers started to get sloppy midway through the quarter with a couple of turnovers, but the Rockets were unable to take advantage as Howard missed four free throws. Nick Young finally ended the drought with a great and-one. More fouls for the Lakers as they committed their 12th while the Rockets only have one. Another Johnson three and the Lakers continued to keep the Rockets at bay with an 11 point lead. Lakers ran a beautiful play out of a timeout that lead to a lob from Gasol to Johnson. Lakers would follow it with a Nash three and lead by 14 with just over a minute left in the half. Harden continued with his points at the free throw line, but Gasol knocked down a hook to finally get on the board and keep the Lakers lead in double digits. Meeks hit one more three before the half to send the Lakers to the locker room with a 14 point lead as they would hit 11 of 14 from deep.
Pau just couldn’t get his shot going as he missed his first two shots of the half. Chandler Parsons would hit a three to cut the lead to single digits as D’Antoni would quickly call a timeout to stop the Rockets early run. Young hit an absolutely huge three to get the scoring going out of the timeout and followed it with two free throws to push the lead back to 14. Parsons had a poster dunk on Kaman but Kaman responded right back with a midrange jumper and the lead remained 14. Some sloppy play by both teams and the lead is ten as D’Antoni went to his bench for the first time in the half. Lakers were really struggling to get anything going offensively and a Houston 8-0 run cut the lead to 6 before Meeks continued his hot shooting with a three. The Lakers foul issues continued to plague them as a Harden and-one cut the lead to four and Lin would convert two free throws to make it a two point game. Johnson of all people would end the run with a three pointer to get the lead back to five and a Farmar runner would give the Lakers some breathing room with a seven point lead. Lakers blow a 4-on-1 fast break with an offensive foul and Harden would hit a three to cut the Laker lead to four at the end of the quarter.
Parsons hit a three to start the quarter but Farmar responds with a jumper and the Laker lead is three. Henry split a pair of free throws and Harden would get two quick buckets and the Rockets would finally tie the game at 84. Johnson again would hit a huge jumper to give the Lakers the lead. Rockets continue to miss some shots. Crazy couple of possessions as both teams struggle to get anything going and miss some open jumpers. Asik would hit a free throw to make it a one point game. Steve Blake hit a gorgeous floater and Asik splits free throws again to keep the Lakers lead at two. Johnson with an amazing offensive rebound and putback but Harden would answer it with a three to tie the game. A fast break dunk by Parsons would give the Rockets their first lead since early in the first. Lakers would employ the Hack-A-Howard and he split the first sour attempts, but the Lakers offense went completely cold allowing the Rockets to push the lead to four. Howard would hit two free throws to push the lead to six and the Lakers still can’t get the offense going. Nash went to the line and hit two free throws and the Lakers fouled Dwight one more time before the two minute mark. Meeks hits a huge three to cut the lead back to two with under two minutes, but would turn the ball over on the next position. Howard misses two free throws but the Lakers failed to convert and the Rockets miss which gives the Lakers the ball with 10 seconds left down two. Steve Blake hits game winning three. Lakers win 99-98.
VIDEO: Steve Blake Hits The Game Winning Three-Pointer