Rapid Reaction: Lakers 99, Rockets 98

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
9:52
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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HOUSTON -- Steve Blake saved the day.

After storming into Houston, shutting down Dwight Howard for most of the game, making virtually every 3-point shot they took for half of the game and spreading the ball around enough to put six players in double figures, the wheels came off in the fourth.

James Harden scored seven of his 35 points and the Lakers were shooting just 5-for-21 in the final frame, turning a four-point lead after three into a two-point deficit with 3.4 seconds left when Jodie Meeks inbounded it to Blake on the left wing. Blake immediately let it fly from 3 over the outstretched arms of, appropriately, Howard, and the Lakers won the game.

At times the game was as ugly as a Howard free throw (he went 5-for-16 from the line, by the way), but the Lakers were able to find a way to pull out their first road win of the season against Howard and a good team in the Rockets.

How it happened: Just like in the San Antonio game (which they lost) and the Atlanta game (which they won), the Lakers got up big in the first half by 19 points but let the lead disappear. And just like at Golden State and in Dallas, the Lakers looked dead in the water in the fourth quarter on the road. But this time, L.A. found a way to win.

What it means: The Lakers proved they have it in them to come back down the stretch, despite not having a true superstar to turn to, what with Kobe Bryant sidelined.

Hits: Blake, the hero of the night, finished with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting from 3.

Meeks kept up his resurgent season, scoring 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 5-for-7 from 3.

Meeks contributed to the Lakers' bench getting it done again, as the reserves scored 54 of the Lakers' 99 points.

Howard struggled mightily against his former teammates, scoring just 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting and he even scored a bucket for L.A. while battling Wesley Johnson for a rebound. He did have 14 rebounds.

Misses: Xavier Henry came into the game as L.A.'s second-leading scorer averaging 12.4 points. Not only did he lose his stating role to Nick Young, he lost his mojo, going 1-for-5 from the field for three points to go with three fouls and a bonehead play or two (not protecting the ball and getting stripped at halfcourt by Harden comes to mind).

Pau Gasol had just two points on 1-for-10 shooting.

Stat of the game: 11-for-14 (78.6 percent). That's what the Lakers shot from 3 in the first half, accounting for more than half of their 64 points and causing Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey to send out this very self-aware (and humorous) tweet: "My analytics say that if they shoot 80% on 3 point shots we will not win."

Up next: L.A. closes out its three-game trip on the second night of a back-to-back in New Orleans on Friday.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5