The Los Angeles Lakers saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped when the Houston Rockets visited Staples Center, losing 121-111.
There was a lot of intrigue heading into the matchup as the Rockets had recently committed to playing their small-ball lineup full time, a perceived disadvantage against a Lakers team who boasts one of the biggest teams in the league.
However, Houston was the one who dictated the game for most of the night as they were able to stretch Los Angeles’ defense thin with their outside shooting which in turn opened up several driving lanes for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
After the frustrating loss, Anthony Davis discussed what went wrong for the team.
“They got their hands on a couple passes that we tried to throw over the top. They hit some tough shots down the stretch and we made some costly turnovers towards the end. When a team shoots a lot of threes — especially this team — when they have a five-out offense with all three-point shooters and some guys made some shots tonight,” Davis explained.
“But I think we had some costly turnovers down the stretch where we didn’t complete passes we normally complete and it kind of hurt us. They got out in transition and we didn’t match up well. They were able to make us pay.”
Davis was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers as he finished the night with a double-double (32 points and 13 rebounds) to go along with three steals and three blocks, but the rest of the roster struggled to make open shots. LeBron James had a double-double of his own (18 points and 15 assists) and added nine rebounds but only managed to shoot 1-of-8 from the three-point line.
It was a frustrating showing for Los Angeles as they were unable to contain Houston’s dribble penetration, opening up several good looks from three that they were able to convert. As a team, the Rockets hit 19 of their 42 three-point attempts, a mark that the Lakers could not overcome despite their clear advantage inside the paint.
Small ball lineups have given the Lakers issues throughout the 2019-20 NBA season as head coach Frank Vogel has normally deployed lineups with one traditional big on the floor, which limits their ability to switch along the perimeter. The obvious solution would be to play Davis at center, but it remains to be seen how much fans will see those lineups until the 2020 NBA playoffs roll around.