Anthony Davis was not happy with the defensive effort from the Los Angeles Lakers in the last game he played, so he made sure there wasn’t a repeat once back on the court.
Davis sparked the Lakers on both sides of the ball, making his first nine shots and finishing with 27 points. L.A. forced 21 turnovers to come away with a 120-102 victory over the Houston Rockets. The win improved the Lakers record to 8-3 and a perfect 5-0 on the road.
The Lakers’ energy on defense was different from the beginning of the contest and, aside from a stretch in the third quarter, never let up. The Lakers created 13 steals, with Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker combining for seven, as well as eight blocks, led by Davis’ three.
The lead got as big as 27 points in the third quarter for the Lakers and while the Rockets were able to cut into it, never got it back into single-digits.
That was due in large part to the work of the Lakers bench which was outstanding. Horton-Tucker finished with a career-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Montrezl Harrell added 16 and eight rebounds. Kyle Kuzma finished with 13 points, and Caruso was his normal disruptive self with four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Thanks to the team effort, LeBron James wasn’t needed to be a dominant force on offense, but still turned in a great all-around performance with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned from a four-game absence to finish with seven points four rebounds and two steals.
Things between the two teams got chippy early when Markieff Morris and former Laker DeMarcus Cousins were involved in a bit of a scuffle. Morris was ejected following the incident, while Cousins would eventually join him a few minutes later after a Flagrant 2 foul on James.
In what was their best defensive effort of the year, the Lakers held the Rockets to just 41.1% shooting from the field and 29.3% behind the arc. Christian Wood, who spoke about his desire to face Davis and the Lakers, overcame a slow first half to score 23 points. James Harden added just 20, missing six of his eight 3-point attempts.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers will finish up their two-game set in Houston on Tuesday night before heading to Oklahoma City the next night to face the Thunder.
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