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Rockets romp over Lakers 135-119

Jalen, Alpie and oh, yeah, SLAM WHITMORE

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets
Next time, Pops, next time.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

That was fun. A few moments of concern late, but mostly a romp from the late first quarter until the mid 4th quarter, when a combination of the Rockets assuming the game was won, the Lakers’ bench working hard, and bafflement against a zone defense (again) made things a little tighter than they needed to be. That is, until Jalen Green restored order with good decisions, tough rebounding, and smart plays on offense.

Wait, did I just write all that about... Jalen Green?

Yes. It’s all true, too. Jalen was great, on both ends of the court tonight, racking up 34 points on 12-23 shooting, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal against one turnover. He made smart attacks on the basket, timely passes, and played hard, and effectively on defense. So, we know it’s in there with Jalen, that it’s possible. Hopefully such performances become routine for New Jalen.

Meanwhile, ho hum, Alperen Sengun only scored 31 points against Anthony Davis, Lebron James and the generally tall Lakers. 14-24 shooting, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block against 3 turnovers.

And then there’s Cam. Excuse me, CAM! Whitmore!. The Rockets were leading by one point late in the first quarter when CAM! entered the game. The Rockets proceeded to go on a 16-5 heater after that, and effectively started the rout. Cam mostly did his damage with thunderous dunks, including a near miss where the ball slipped out of his hand as he was attempting to throw it down on Lebron James. It might have been a small “Passing The Torch” moment, as Cam Whitmore is roughly the same age as Lebron’s son Bronny James. Next time, Pops James, next time. Honestly, if you can watch the last five minutes of the first quarter again, or just that. You won’t have seen much like it, I promise.

Cam managed 20 points in 17 minutes, 7-12 shooting, 6 rebounds and 0 assists.

Sometime in the third quarter, when the Rockets brought their lead to 30 points (after scoring 78 in the first half!) I found myself thinking “I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Rockets game this much.” and “Wow, these young Rockets are still basically NBA babies. Look out if when they get it going.”

Tonight also marked the return of the much-missed Jabari Smith. The Rockets defense, and offense, look much (much) better with Jabari in the lineup. He takes on tough assignments, rebounds well, and tonight showed an improved attack off the dribble and mid-range game. He notched another solid, effective, useful Jabari night with 18 points on 8-13 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.

Dillon Brooks was also good, with 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Lebron James and Anthony Davis grizzled after the game that Brooks was out of control, and should have been ejected, but it’s hard to see why. His hand touched Lebron’s face, and James went down like, well, a South American soccer player, and of course, stayed down for good, long, healing moan. His very survival was clearly in doubt. Miraculously, though, James recovered from the horrific incidental contact to play on, his face somehow intact. It’s a testament to his conditioning, really. Long live the King.

Of course the Rockets are young, and couldn’t just have a parade, and take the fourth quarter off. The team immediately tried to let the Lakers back into the game in the 4th quarter, out of a combination of goofing around on offense, not trying on defense, and the Lakers putting in their bench, and playing zone.

So what should have been the Rockets starters leaving the game at around 30 minutes of playing time, of course, in a pattern that is becoming familiar, became around 40 minutes for the starters. I think Udoka should have gone to the deeper bench early, up 30, and only put the starters back if the Lakers challenged them. I don’t think they would have, with fresh legs in the game. Instead the Lakers cut the lead to a mere 11 points from the peak 30 with James, Davis, and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber” back in the game.

Jalen and Sengun took over from there, brought the lead back to 16 with little time left, but it shouldn’t have gone that way, with some blame falling both on the Rockets players, and Ime Udoka, who really, really, needs to stop Thibideauing quite so much.

Anyway, this game offered a preview of what’s to come, hopefully, with all the young Rockets showing signs of greatness, and of youth, in the same game.

This game also helped the Rockets should they need a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Lakers for a play in spot. The season series ends in a tie, and as the Lakers have lost more Western Conference games, the Rockets would advance to the play-in, etc, over the Lakers should that hold true at season’s end.

This was mostly a feel-good experience, so watch it if you get a chance.

Poll

Reviews for Tonight’s Game?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Five Stars - Instant Classic
    (73 votes)
  • 53%
    Four Stars - Very Good
    (90 votes)
  • 2%
    Three Stars - Adequate Entertainment
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Two Stars - Tepid
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    One Star: Lebron and Day-To-Davis’ review.
    (1 vote)
169 votes total Vote Now