The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center tonight, 124-115. It was the 34th win of the season for the leaders of the Western Conference, and this one game against one of the biggest rivals on their title quest. Without injured Anthony Davis, but with superb LeBron James, the LAL found a way to beat the high-flying Rockets.
The key moments of the match happened in the third period once Lakers outscored the hosts 32-17, and took the momentum on the court onto their side. After that, it was no coming back for the Rockets, who lost the swing and, above all, the confidence on the offensive side of the floor.
King James received the best possible praises one player can get, and that was “MVP” chants on the road. He ended the night with 31 points, had 12 assists, and five boards, shooting 13 for 25 from the field, and also recording 6 turnovers.
LeBron's getting "MVP!" chants in Houston 👑 pic.twitter.com/AAwFiqcnhf
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 19, 2020
“It’s so humbling … Being able to do it at a high level with a great team and a historical franchise like the Lakers, I couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” LeBron spoke about the chants during the on-court interview.
However, he had massive help from other teammates. Kyle Kuzma might force the Lakers’ management to reconsider all the trade plans they had for him. Kuz dropped 23 points and had 8 boards, while one of the best three-and-D guys in the last decade, Danny Green added 20 points, same as Kentaviou Caldwell-Pope. Only the latter one did it off the bench.
It was a versatile game of the guests who were hurting the hosts from all weapons.
Up until early on in the third, the Rockets had a lead, sometimes even 10 or more points. With 1:42 before the halftime, after PJ Tucker’s three-pointer, the hosts got away to 63-52
But then came the third quarter in which the Rockets shot 1 of 11 from behind the arc, and were 6 of 28 from the field. The LAL meanwhile made 10 of their 18 attempts.
”We just didn’t make plays. We ran them the first half, but then they ran us. We can’t turn the ball over 20 times,” said Mike D’Antoni about his team’s performance in the second half.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 69 points, but that wasn’t enough, as these two didn’t have any other teammate available for help. Westbrook scored 35 points with 9 rebounds and 7 assists, while Harden had 34 with 7 dimes and 6 boards. Still, they lost 11 possessions combined.
None other starter had a double-digit number of points, with Eric Gordon coming off the bench and delivering 13 buckets as their biggest support. If they continue to play like this, the Rockets aren’t going to be anywhere near the title. It is more than obvious that the Rockets need to find a third player who will take over at certain situations, and not just wait for the ball outside the three-point line.
Houston (26-15) travels to Oklahoma City to meet the Thunder on Monday also, before getting back home for a clash with the Nuggets. Following that contest, D’Antoni’s crew has a four-game road trip starting in Minneapolis and extending to Denver, Salt Lake City, and Portland.
On the other side, the Los Angeles Lakers (34-8) are heading for Boston to have a classic against the Celtics on Monday night. Following that matchup, they have a visit to Madison Square Garden two days later, before heading for Brooklyn and eventually Philadelphia, who defeated the Knicks tonight, 90-87.
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.