(News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Lakers put up 78 points in the paint against the Houston Rockets. They poured in 23 fast break points. And yet, the single-game winning Rockets (1-6) had the Lakers on their toes all the way up to the end of the Tuesday night contest played between the two teams at Staples Center.
“Credit the Rockets man,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “Those young guys came out and played their tails off, they responded from a tough loss the other night. Hit every shot, attacked the rim, played with physicality, really challenged us. Our defense wasn’t good in the first half, but even when it was, they made tough shots.”
Vogel continued, “Credit those guys, but this is what we’re going to see all year long. With the nature of our team and the names we have on this team, and the expectations of our group we’re going to get every team’s best shot. It’s going to be challenging, but it’s something that we embrace and it’s something that is really going to sharpen us.”
After seeing Jalen Green (18 of his total 24 points) and the Rockets go wild in the first half with 70 points, the Lakers clamped down defensively in the third quarter, holding Green to zero points and limiting Houston to just 19 points in the period.
In the first half, the Rockets shot at a 58 percent clip from the field. The Lakers buckled down on the defensive front coming out of intermission to hold Houston to 42 percent shooting in the third quarter. That defensive effort was good enough for the Lakers to slow the Rockets roll on their way to picking up a hard-earned 119-117 win.
“I think our defense really picked up in the second half, a couple charges. Really a lot of hustle plays to win defensive possessions, and we were able to get the W,” Vogel said.
After scoring those 70 points, the Rockets were held to just 47 points in the second half.
“We don’t have great low man habits yet,” remarked Vogel. “We’ve really been pushing that button with our guys and had a great game of it last game. We were a step late tonight. Its anticipation, physicality, we just weren’t there on time tonight. We were a step late with it. We, again, challenged them at halftime and we did a much better job of it in the second half.”
Besides stepping up their defensive, the Lakers also turned two of their four suspertsars loose. Russell Westbrook came out and stored 13 of his 27 points in the third quarter. LeBron James then cleaned up everything in the fourth quarter with his 14-point soring outburst.
James, who finished the game with 30 points and 10 assists, went on a personal 10-0 scoring run midway in the fourth quarter to lift the Lakers from a 97-94 deficit to a 104-100 advantage in less than two minutes.
“It was just about the moment,” James said afterward. “I just loved the moment and tried to make the best plays to help our team win. At that point in time, it caused me to score and I was able to bring us a few buckets at that time.”
Just a couple of nights earlier on Halloween, the Lakers grounded Houston to a 95-85 defeat. What a big difference a few days can make. As the Lakers looked to secure their fifth win (5-3) of the season and their third straight victory, the Rockets young players would have none of that, getting two big 3-pointers from Green at the end of the game to cause some anxiety about the outcome.
“They made shots tonight,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said. “All of their guys shot the ball well. All of their starting five shot the ball well, and their guys off the bench. Hats off to them. They’re a young team that’s coming in that are playing with a lot of freedom. They have guys who can play. Sunday, they didn’t make a lot of shots, tonight they did. We just try to play as good of defense as we can.”
Featured Image Caption: November 2, 2021. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) goes for the blok shot against Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”