At the end of the Lakers bench sat Anthony Davis and LeBron James, both dressed in their uniforms, both unable to help their teammates due to injuries.
Davis did not play because the Lakers kept him out of the second game in two nights to prevent his right foot stress injury from worsening and James was out with soreness in his right foot.
So, it was left to D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Austin Reaves and the rest of the Lakers against a houston rockets team with the second worst record in the NBA.
Still, the Rockets posed a threat to the Lakers because they had just beaten the Boston Celtics in their previous game, and this young team from Houston has a group of skilled, athletic players who are looking to make things difficult for teams, whether it’s in the playoffs or fighting to play. -in sowing.
The Lakers found this to be true, falling to the Rockets 114-110 Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.
“We talked about it and I said it before the games, days without games: Energy, effort and urgency. And I thought walking out the doors was a non-existent thing,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I didn’t see much of it. I saw it from you, Houston. young team. Regardless of what their record is, they came to play and we feel them. They made us feel them, in terms of them attacking the paint, getting hits, getting offensive rebounds, giving each other extra possessions. We should have been the ones playing with that kind of advantage.”
Without Davis’ defensive presence inside, the Rockets feasted in the paint.
The Rockets scored 48 points in the paint in the first half, helping them build an 18-point lead at one point. They finished the game with 78 points in the paint.
“It’s a product of us not being good on the ball,” Ham said of Houston’s inside game. “That
individual pride it takes to keep the ball in front and the guys behind knowing that the paint is the priority. This team lives in the paint. The Houston Rockets live in the paint.
“And whether it’s momentum, whether it’s giving themselves second and third possessions on a particular play through their offensive rebounding, they live and thrive in the paint. And we preach that to them before the game.”
The Lakers put up a better and more energetic effort in the third and fourth quarters, coming to four points in the final 12 minutes.
But the Rockets responded with three straight 3-pointers to increase their lead to 13 points, essentially ending the Lakers’ slim chances.
“Once we caught up, they were on a 9-0 run,” Ham said. “Jabari (Smith) hits two 3-pointers and then (Josh) Christopher hits a three. But, you get behind the eight ball if you don’t come out the right way.”
And even with five players scoring in double figures, the Lakers couldn’t get over their poor shooting. They shot 37.8% from the field and 25% from the three-point line. They were outrebounded 51-36 and the Lakers allowed 16 offensive rebounds.
“I think we started off a little slow,” said Vanderbilt, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds. “We took them a bit lightly and the energy just wasn’t there to start the game like it was in the second half. But we were fighting an uphill battle from that point.”
Reaves, who shot 6-for-14 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range, led the Lakers with 24 points off the bench. Russell scored 18 points, but was only 5-for-17 from the field, 3-for-11 from 3-point range. Beasley had 16 points, but was 6-for-17 from the field, 4-for-12 from 3-point range.
As a result, the Lakers fell two games below .500 at 34-36. They have 12 regular season games left.
“We have to play the game like it’s the last one,” Vanderbilt said. “We’re running out of time. We got what, 12 games left? We don’t have any more gifts. We never had any to begin with. But we need all these games. We need to win as much as possible, especially against teams like tonight that aren’t even fighting for playoff positions, especially Western Conference teams. We need to win those games.”