Fresh off a 130-125 win versus the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, the Houston Rockets (51-25) look to extend their winning streak against the Los Angeles Lakers (25-52) Tuesday night. The Lakers come in with a 4-game losing streak and one loss away from matching a franchise record 53 losses.
Houston was still missing Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley going into this game and head coach Kevin McHale had expressed interest in resting starters in preparation for the start of the playoffs in two weeks. At tip, it was Jeremy Lin at point, James Harden at guard, Chandler Parsons playing the three, Terrence Jones at four, and Omer Asik filling in for the injured Dwight Howard.
Terrence Jones had a scorching hot start, scoring 10 of the Rockets 12 points. The tandem of Harden and Lin looked noticeably different from earlier in the season with Lin being more of a facilitator for Harden. The woes from the three point line continued, going 0 for 4 before Isiah Canaan finally drained one at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter. The good news was that the Rockets weren’t trying to force the three, most likely due to their dominance in the paint.
Rockets once again started sloppy in the second quarter, not attacking the rim and being lazy on the perimeter defense. The Lakers trimmed the Rockets lead to 8 at the 7:46 mark before McHale had seen enough and called for a timeout. That didn’t seem to help because the Lakers were able to further trim the lead to 3 with great play by Jodie Meeks.
Rockets woes continued as none of Parsons shots seemed to fall and Lakers took their first lead with 3:39 to go in the second since it was 2-0. Important to note that Steve Nash moved into third all-time in assists with a fast break pass to Meeks for an easy layup. The Rockets finished the half up by five but the second quarter was dominated by Jodie Meeks. In a game that was supposed to have the Rockets playing well on the perimeter they were 3 for 12 behind the arc, all hit by rookie Isaiah Canaan.
The second half started with energetic play by the Lakers coming mostly from Ryan Kelly. But back to back triples by Harden and Terrence Jones put the Rockets back up by double digits. Just three possessions later, Lin hit a three and the Rockets finally started to hit their stride and looked to have figured out their problems from behind the arc. An amazing behind the back pass from Parsons to Jones put the Rockets up by 20 halfway through the third. However, a scary moment came with about two minutes to go in the third when Terrence Jones limped off the court. Reports indicate it could be a calf strain. The Rockets scored 49 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth with the game in their hands.
To begin the fourth quarter, the only remaining starter on the court was Jeremy Lin with the Rockets up by 25. Perimeter defense was suspect to start the quarter but that could be attributed to frustration threes by the Lakers. This quarter was accentuated by absolutely no defense being played by either side. It would have been nice to see the Rockets try to kill the clock a bit more but watching Canaan work was something to behold. Jones would not return to break his career record of 36. Rockets win 145-130 that wasn’t even as close as the score appeared.
The Good: Game MVP Terrence Jones. Can he do this night in night out though?
The Bad: Playing down to your opponent, at least for the first half.
The Ugly: First half three-point shooting. They weren’t forcing it but every shot was ugly. Luckily, they were able to figure it out in the second half.
The Rockets now continue their road trip, facing the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday who took them to overtime on Sunday. Tip off is set for 8:00 PM CST and can be seen on CSN Houston.
Tags: Houston Rockets