Maybe the Lakers are glad that they’re not going to be playing in Houston for the rest of the season. Unless they both somehow make it in the playoffs and have to go against each other, which is as likely as the author dating Anna Kendrick at some point. Either way, the Lakers were knocked around by these young Rockets yet again, 135-119. L.A. did make it respectable in the fourth quarter but we know how these “fake comebacks” go.
First off, Cam Whitmore just went boom at the end of the first quarter, scoring 12 points in the last 139 seconds (that’s two minutes and 19 seconds if math is hard). That gave the Rockets a 42-31 lead after one.
And then in the second quarter, Dillon Brooks put his hand on Jarred Vanderbilt while he was in the air (by the way, don’t do that when you play ball). The push was reviewed by the refs and it was deemed a common foul. It basically baited Vanderbilt and it got him heated. That resulted in an ejection. That’s why they pay Brooks the big bucks.
Here’s the little incident:
Jarred Vanderbilt got ejected after pushing Dillon Brooks and then poking the back of his headpic.twitter.com/rNzQQscb6R— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 30, 2024
Once Vando was ejected, it seemed to take the air out of the Lakers as he has been a source of energy. And as if it wasn’t enough, Brooks beat the halftime buzzer to give the Rockets a 78-60 lead.
The Lakers came out of the halftime break with… no sense of urgency. The Rockets poured it on as the Lakers looked like they were just waiting at the DMV. The Rockets lead grew to 30 at one point.
L.A. did try to make it interesting in the fourth quarter as they went on a 20-5 run. The lead did shrink to 10 but momentum was halted by a delay of game tech, a couple more free throws, and a Jalen Green bucket. The white flag was waved and the Lakers will live to see another game.
Los Angeles was just outplayed for the most part. Rebounding? Houston had 20 more. Paint points? 68-56 in favor of Houston. Transition? 29-15, Houston. Second chance points? Rockets had 19 while the Lakers had 6.
And all of those are energy stats. Were the Lakers tired from the Warriors game on Saturday? Perhaps. But all the NBA teams go through pretty much the same schedule. But again, this was what we feared from the Lakers. It’s been like this all year where they feel they’re too cool and too good when they step on the floor. And then they seem to sleepwalk through most of the game before they realize they’re playing in a professional basketball game.
If they had the energy that they did during the fourth quarter (which, to be fair, was filled by some subs who had been itching to play), then they wouldn’t be in this predicament for most of the game. But as it is, it’s a loss and they move on to play the Hawks the very next night.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell all scored 23 points each while Rui Hachimura came off the pine to score 16. As for the Houston Rockets, Jalen Green went for 34-11-7 while Alperen Sengun had 31-11-7. Cam Whitmore came off the bench to score 20 points while Fred VanVleet handed out 14 assists. That’s how you make an impact on the game even if you only score three points.
Like I said, the Lakers will play the Atlanta Hawks on a back-to-back. This should be interesting as we know how much the fans love the rumor mill around these NBA streets.