HOUSTON — Nothing screamed the return of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. back together again than an alley-oop connection between the two young guards. At the 6:50 mark of the first quarter, Porter threw a lob pass over the top of Russell Westbrook to find Green for the alley-oop slam.
It was the first time the two played together since Nov. 24, when Green left the Houston Rockets’ victory over the Chicago Bulls early due to a hamstring injury.
Green and Porter gave the Rockets a much-needed boost within their rotation — given the number of players out due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocol. But the backcourt duo’s return wasn’t enough to keep the Rockets from sustaining a 132-123 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
With the loss, the Rockets dropped their fifth consecutive game while falling to a record of 10-25 on the season. The Lakers ended their five-game losing skid behind a game-high 32 points from LeBron James.
In the second game following his return from a hamstring injury, Green led the Rockets in scoring with 24 points on the night. It was Green’s sixth game of his young career where he scored 20 or more points, and his second consecutive game accomplishing the feat after Thursday’s loss against the Indiana Pacers.
Porter, who missed the previous 12 games due to a thigh contusion, nearly matched Green’s scoring output with 22 points in the loss but dished nine assists in the process.
The young Rockets put up a splendid fight against the veteran Lakers, and trailed Los Angeles 105-102 early in the fourth quarter. Behind Houston’s never-die mindset, it took a 14-point fourth quarter by James to hold off the Rockets inside the Toyota Center.
Assisting Green and Porter in Houston’s attempt to record an upset over Los Angeles was Christian Wood. Wood scored 22 points against the Lakers and would have contributed more if not for shooting 50 percent from the charity stripe. Despite his subpar shooting from the free-throw line, Wood connected on three out of his four attempts from behind the arc.
Coming into the game short-handed, coach Stephen Silas used an eight-man rotation, where seven out of the eight players scored in double figures. Josh Christopher led the Rockets’ bench unit in scoring with 14 points, with Armoni Brooks adding 11 on the night.
In addition to James’ scoring, which resulted in him becoming the third player in NBA history to eclipse 36,000 career points, the future Hall-of-Famer was one of two Lakers that recorded a triple-double with 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the win.
Russell Westbrook was the second Laker to record a triple-double during the game with 24 points, to go along with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Former Rocket Carmelo Anthony torched Houston off the bench for 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field.
After the loss, the Rockets will try to end their losing streak on New Year’s Eve Friday, when Houston faces off against the 22-13 Miami Heat. Tip-off is at 6 P.M. CT inside the Toyota Center.