In a game they really needed to win without Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the lowly Houston Rockets 114-110.
D’Angelo Russell assumed the offensive responsibility early but the smaller starting lineup got abused by the Rockets who were able to easily score inside. Without Los Angeles missing a traditional rim-protecting center, Houston found no issues attacking the painted area which left the Lakers trailing 19-11.
L.A.’s energy was beyond flat on both ends of the floor as they seemed to be going through the motions, while Houston had no problems finding the open man near the rim. Despite a couple buckets from Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves, the Lakers’ defense was almost nowhere to be seen and went into the second down 31-19.
The malaise for Los Angeles continued into the second quarter as they played too lose, though Reaves tried to wake the team up with his forays to the basket. The Lakers tried to narrow the deficit by taking more 3s, but they failed to convert on any and that left them down by 13.
L.A. did well to take advantage of being in the bonus, but it didn’t amount to much as Houston simply got the points back on the other end. No matter what the Lakers tried, the Rockets seemed to have an answer every time down which left the purple and gold staring at a 62-48 hole at halftime with Russell at least making a 3 at the buzzer to salvage something.
The Lakers came out with much more energy to begin the second half and even briefly trimmed the deficit to single digits before turnovers allowed the Rockets to push their lead back to 12. Jarred Vanderbilt was a surprising source of offense as he found himself open next to the basket, but Houston remained up 77-65.
Fortunately, L.A. finally started to chip away at things thanks to the efforts of Troy Brown Jr. and Vanderbilt. However, a mini run from the Rockets left the Lakers trailing 83-74 going into the final quarter.
Los Angeles looked like they were going to climb all the way back into it as they got within four, but Jabari Smith Jr. nailed back-to-back 3s to put them back down 10. Dennis Schroder had a rough stretch shooting the basketball, allowing the Rockets to maintain control of the game.
Like most of the night, Los Angeles was able to hang around late because they were able to hit their free throws. However, they couldn’t get over the hump and thus ended their road trip on a sour note.
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