In a match between two shorthanded teams, the Houston Rockets defeated Los Angeles Lakers, 113-97.
Both sides were without former MVP’s, Houston without Russell Westbrook, and on the other hand, LeBron James didn’t play for the LAL. However, the Rockets had James Harden who was unstoppable again.
The Beard poured 39 points, had 12 assists, and was two boards short of a triple-double. The leading scorer of the championship was 11-of-19 from the field, delivered five threes, and perfect from the free-throw line with 12 hits. Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t want to speak about his offensive contribution, but instead praised his defensive focus.
“His commitment on defense is number one,” D’Antoni said. “He stays locked in and is trying to win whatever it takes, accepting the double teams and trying to bust it through to other guys. So there’s a lot of good things to marvel about.”
The Rockets were ahead since the late part of the first quarter, which they’ve won 33-26. They would gradually increase the lead, and with 2:18 until the halftime, it stood at 60-44. The biggest difference was two minutes before the end of the third, 91-73.
The LAL made a 10-0 run, opening the final sequence to cut down the deficit to just five points, but on the other side, the Rockets responded even harder, scoring 11 straight points, and regaining the full control of the match. From that moment on, the question of the winner of this match was concluded.
“They’re a unique team with how they play on both ends of the floor, so we did some things poorly at times, we did some things well at times,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told after the game.
His Lakers had so many troubles without LeBron on the floor, and one of them was poor three-point shooting. The purple and gold were 2-of-15 from downtown, and many see that as the direct consequence of James’ absence. Even though he himself isn’t a good shooter, his aggressiveness and playmaking abilities create space for other teammates to have a clear look at the basket.
“We didn’t do it as well as we wanted to. We didn’t get as many three-point attempts as we would have liked to, and they got a bunch. But it’s something to look at and learn from,” said one of the league’s best three-pointers, Danny Green.
Kyle Kuzma scored 21 points for the Lakers and was the best scorer in Vogel’s crew. Anthony Davis had 17 and 12 boards, while three other players scored exactly 10 points each, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Green, and Talen Horton-Tucker.
The team from LA outrebounded the Rockets 49-34, but they couldn’t utilize that.
Ben McLemore added 20 points for Houston, with four boards and five threes, Danuel House Jr had 14, Jeff Green 15, and Austin Rivers 11.
After this game, the Rockets have 43 wins and 25 losses, sitting right behind the Denver Nuggets who lost to Portland Trail Blazers last night. They are tied with Utah Jazz in the fourth place of the Western Conference, and half a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are first, with 51 wins and 17 losses. They will meet with the Indiana Pacers this Saturday and after that with the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
The Rockets clash with the Kings on Sunday night, and after that have a divisional derby against the San Antonio Spurs.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.