This game was like a yo-yo.
It went back and forth.
Back and forth.
And then the yo-yo...
Luckily for the Rockets, the game snapped in their favor, earning their first win of the season in a 124-115 affair over the Los Angeles Lakers.
James Harden led the charge with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a 10-19 shooting performance. He was accompanied by his supporting cast with 19 points and 12 rebounds from Clint Capela and a smooth 13 points off the bench from Gerald Green, thanks to three triples.
His backcourt mate Chris Paul nearly finished with a triple-double, scoring 28 points, dishing 10 dimes and grabbing seven rebounds. However, his night was cut short after a fight that will dominate headlines on the Sunday papers.
Rondo and CP3 threw hands in Lakers-Rockets brawl pic.twitter.com/Z0eWmxDdTH— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 21, 2018
The scuffle started with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter when Brandon Ingram shoved James Harden and earned a technical foul. Then, off-camera, Rajon Rondo and Paul created another spat, after it appears that Rondo spat in CP3’s face, according to the Rockets broadcast.
In the video above, you can see Paul rubbing his face, which could have been where Rondo’s spit landed. Then, CP3 pushes his hand in Rondo’s face, and it all breaks loose. It’s a rare showing for CP3, who often holds himself to a level of professionalism well above the level he was at tonight.
Ingram received two technicals and was ejected, and Paul and Rondo also received ejections. At this point in the game, the Rockets held a 109-108 lead.
In the final 4:13 of the contest, the Rockets outscored the Lakers 16-7 thanks to nine Harden points and a clutch P.J. Tucker three that acted as the dagger to any remnants of Laker hopes.
As for the game beyond the fourth quarter, it was an entertaining night of basketball. The Rockets ran eight guys for a majority of the night as Michael Carter-Williams looked like a fish out of water in the Rockets offensive scheme.
The bench made the difference tonight for the Rockets. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Eric Gordon and Gerald Green played beautifully together, with +23, +18, and +11 respectively.
The three-point line was also an area where the Rockets took the advantage. The team shot 16-42 (38%) from beyond, and made eight more threes than the Lakers. Tonight’s showing was far more indicative of the Rockets most fans are used to and the offense looked to be in a much better rhythm than it was in Wednesday night.
For the Lakers, LeBron had a team-high 24 points and was one of seven Lakers in double figures. Lonzo Ball looked to have made a significant improvement on his deep shot, scoring 14 points on four threes.
Looking into the future, the Rockets are happy to get out of tonight with a win. As for how the league will discipline CP3, a decision could come as early as tomorrow, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
With the NBA’s Kiki VanDeWeghe on the scene at Staples, investigation into Rockets-Lakers fight is underway tonight and there is potential for suspensions as soon as Sunday, league source tells ESPN. Rockets play Clippers on a back-to-back.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 21, 2018
The Rockets have a quick turnaround as they face the Clippers in the Staples Center back-to-back tomorrow night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. CT.