The Los Angeles Lakers needed their stars to come through in order to snap their five-game skid and they showed up in a big way in the win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
Even though the Rockets entered the contest with the worst record in the Western Conference, they gave the Lakers a run for their money as they kept the game close throughout the entire night. However, the young Houston squad could not do anything to stop LeBron James, who took over in the final minutes to ensure Los Angeles’ victory.
Assistant head coach David Fizdale went with a small-ball lineup out of the gate with James at center and it worked wonders as the 36-year-old was able to use the added space to score from all over the floor. James wound up recording a triple-double of 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in his 39 minutes, extending his current streak of impressive games in the process.
James also reached 36,000 career points on the night, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to do so.
Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook had a bounce-back game after his lackluster Christmas Day showing, recording his own triple-double of 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. It was the quintessential Westbrook game as he was relentless attacking the painted area and finishing at the rim. The Rockets had no answer for James and Westbrook, who played with much more force and physicality than normal.
While James and Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet, Malik Monk was able to get himself going from the jump after drawing the start. In 40 minutes, Monk shot an impressive 7-of-14 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, which resulted in 25 points. The shooting guard also had a highlight-reel dunk that shook the Toyota Center and got the crowd roaring.
Carmelo Anthony had himself a successful night shooting the basketball as well, scoring 24 points off the bench and converting on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Anthony nailed a huge triple late in the fourth to give the Lakers some breathing room.
It seemed like Los Angeles was going to cruise to a win in the fourth quarter when they took an 11-point lead, but Houston did not quit and continued to battle. The Rockets got solid contributions from everyone who suited up but were led by rookie Jalen Green, who led their team in scoring with 24.
Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. added 22 points each, while Josh Christopher was their primary bench scorer with 14 points of his own.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers finish their back-to-back set against the surging Memphis Grizzlies, who are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA. Following that, they head back home to Crypto.com Arena where they will take on a Portland Trail Blazers team that has largely disappointed this season but always give Los Angeles issues.
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