After a lackluster first half, the Los Angeles Lakers turned it up in the second half to pull out a 119-117 victory over the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets were forced to play small with Daniel Theis out, which made it easier for the Lakers to attack the painted area early. L.A.’s Big 3 made it a point to punish Houston around the basket, but the latter’s shooting from the perimeter kept them close throughout the first half of the quarter.
Rockets rookie Jalen Green caught fire from the field as he got almost any shot he wanted, though the Lakers were able to answer every time down the floor. However, with LeBron James and Davis off the floor, the Rockets made a run at the end of the period and the Lakers faced a 35-32 deficit.
James finally seemed to break out of his outside shoot slump as he nailed consecutive threes to start the second, while Austin Reaves came up with a block to ignite a fastbreak. Davis found James for a lob in transition, but Houston found little resistance when scoring and remained slightly ahead.
Davis stepped on Alperen Sengun’s foot and tweaked his ankle, but was fortunately was able to remain in the game, though he was clearly hampered. James exploded for a dunk that rocked the Staples Center crowd, but the team’s defense was a letdown so L.A. would walk into the half trailing 70-64.
DeAndre Jordan got the start for Davis at the top of the third, though the latter almost immediately checked back into the game. However, defensive miscommunications really hurt the Lakers as the Rockets were able to take advantage and take a double-digit lead.
L.A. finally turned up the defensive effort and energy to string together multiple stops while Davis went back to dominating the interior. Westbrook was able to take over the offense in the closing minutes of the quarter, but the Lakers went into the fourth down 89-87.
James was able to score at will, relentlessly driving to the basket and nailing a tough turnaround to hand L.A. a 104-100 lead. L.A. did a better job contesting Houston looks, while Carmelo Anthony continued to shoot the basketball well.
James briefly exited the game and looked to be in some discomfort, though he eventually returned for the final stretch. Houston did not stop fighting as they pulled within one thanks to a deep Green three, but Kevin Porter Jr. missed the potential game-winner and L.A. escaped with a victory.
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