The Rockets trailed by 18 at halftime, faced a deficit as large as 21, and never lead in regulation, but by the end of the night, the Rockets found themselves on top, beating the Lakers 138-134 in overtime.
Houston looked dead in the water to begin the game. The team looked a step slower than the Lakers, as the visitors placed 39 points on the scoreboard in the game’s first 12 minutes.
With LeBron James missing his 13th consecutive game with a groin injury, Kyle Kuzma emerged as the team’s strongest scoring threat. Kuzma dropped 20 in the first quarter to put the Lakers ahead by 13.
The Rockets responded by sticking to what they know — the three-ball. However, it received mixed responses. The team made just 10 of its first 40 threes and the Rockets’ inaccurate shooting allowed the Lakers to push even further ahead, taking an 18-point lead into halftime.
The turning point in the contest came at the 8:39 mark in the third quarter when Lonzo Ball exited the game with an apparent ankle injury. At this point in the game, the Lakers lead by 15 points.
Two possessions later, the Lakers were up 74-57 with 7:43 left in the third. By the 5:08 mark, the Lakers were up by just two. The Rockets retaliated with a 15-0 run to pull themselves back in the game.
From that moment on, the Rockets scratched their way to try to gain their first lead of the night, but the Lakers kept a strong grasp on the lead, and were up six with 40.9 seconds to play.
A James Harden 5-0 run brought the deficit to just a point and two Ivica Zubac free throws brought the Laker lead to three with 4.9 seconds left.
Then, well, this happened:
Eric Gordon splash to force overtime and a MIKE BREEN DOUBLE BANG pic.twitter.com/t1pbVnRMHC— James Wobden (@WorldWideWob) January 20, 2019
In overtime, the Rockets opened with a quick pair of threes from Eric Gordon and Harden, who combined for 78 points, and despite a comeback attempt from the Lakers, the Rockets were able to finish it out.
Missed free throws from Houston kept Los Angeles in the game, but Houston was able to make enough to get the job done.
Although the Rockets came out of today’s game as the victor, it showed a lot of flaws in the team, especially down low.
The only player the Rockets played taller than 6’8” was Nene Hilario, who scored five points in just 20 minutes. The Lakers taller than 6’8” combined for 93 points. The Lakers out-rebounded the Rockets 56-39.
The Lakers also shot far better than the Rockets. Los Angeles made 54 percent of their shots compared to Houston’s 38.8 percent.
The one glaring stat that points in Houston’s favor is the three-point makes. Houston scored 75 of their points from behind the arc compared to 30 from LA. It just goes to show that three points are more than two points.
The Rockets head to the east coast for a two-game road trip that begins Monday in Philadelphia. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.