Wed, 26 Feb 2020

James, defense drive Lakers past Rockets

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2020, 14:40 GMT+10

LeBron James produced his 31st double-double, Kyle Kuzma chipped in 23 points and the visiting Los Angeles Lakers turned a third-quarter defensive clinic into a 124-115 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

The Lakers delivered an efficient offensive display without their leading scorer, Anthony Davis, by following James' lead. James paired a team-high 31 points with a game-high 12 assists to steward the Lakers. Their defensive might turned the tide in the third, which they won 32-17.

The Rockets shot just 21.4 percent (6 of 28) in the quarter and missed 10 of 11 3-point tries. Every attempt by a Houston ball-hander to penetrate the lane was met with a flurry of limbs, with the Rockets guilty of six turnovers in the period. One particular sequence was emblematic of the Lakers' defensive effort, as JaVale McGee blocked a P.J. Tucker corner-3 attempt before immediately thwarting Rockets center Clint Capela on a dunk attempt.

McGee and former Rockets center Dwight Howard recorded three blocks each, while Danny Green had four steals. The Lakers posted 13 steals and nine blocks while limiting the Rockets to 12-for-37 shooting from behind the arc.

Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points apiece for the Lakers, who shot 48.4 percent from the floor. Howard added 10 rebounds, and the Lakers totaled 24 second-chance points.

Russell Westbrook (35 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) and James Harden (34 points, seven assists) paced the Rockets, who have dropped three straight and four of five. Houston committed 20 turnovers.

The Rockets enjoyed a strong start behind Westbrook, leading by as many as 11 points in the first half as Westbrook tallied 22 points by the intermission. But Houston began to crumble under the weight of the Lakers' defensive pressure, and when James converted his second consecutive driving layup at the 7:52 mark of the third, the Lakers led for the first time at 69-68.

The Lakers methodically pulled away, extending to their biggest lead at 104-88 on a Kuzma layup in the fourth.

--Field Level Media

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