Rapid Reaction: Rockets 113, Lakers 99

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
7:40
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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HOUSTON -- Maybe there was a reason the NBA decided to change its national broadcast schedule to yank Wednesday's Los Angeles Lakers versus Houston Rockets game from airways around the country.

After all, Nick Young already said the postgame locker room in Dallas following a 13-point loss Tuesday -- the Lakers' eighth in nine games -- felt like "a funeral."

Appropriate then that Kobe Bryant was wearing all black on the end of the Lakers bench at the Toyota Center. Right?

At some point L.A. will officially mourn the hope it had for success this season.

That day has not come yet, with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak telling ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Rockets game that, "I haven't sensed that players have thrown in the towel, and they won't ... They have too much at stake."

Maybe the Lakers haven't given up hope yet, but the league was right to give up on showcasing the second "reunion" game between the Lakers and Dwight Howard's Rockets this season, especially after a few mind-numbing minutes in the fourth quarter that reduced the game to a parade of Howard missed free throw attempts.

Hack-a-Howard might have worked the first time L.A. beat the Rockets in Houston this season, but when the Lakers started the strategy when they were already down more than a dozen points in the final minutes it seemed more petty than savvy this time around.

How it happened: The Lakers took a five-point lead into halftime thanks to strong starts from Pau Gasol (15 of his 21 points in the first two quarters) and Nick Young (15 of his 25 points), but the wheels came off in the third quarter when L.A. was outscored 33-15 and Houston controlled it from there, even with the Hack-a-Howard spectacle in the fourth.

What it means: The Lakers have now lost nine of their past 10 games by an average of 13.9 points, and eight of their next nine games are on the road. Is there any relief in sight?

Hits: Jodie Meeks scored 21 points.

Jordan Hill had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Chris Kaman broke a string of four straight DNP-CDs to put in five points and five rebounds off the bench.

Misses: Kendall Marshall had his worst game since joining the starting lineup, shooting just 2-for-13 from the field en route to five points and eight assists.

Howard shot 10-for-24 from the free throw line.

Stat of the game: 18. That's how many turnovers the Lakers had leading to 26 points for the Rockets. Seven of those turnovers came in the decisive third quarter.

Up next: The Lakers will have an off day Thursday coming off the back-to-back in Dallas and Houston and then play a "road" game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday in their first matchup against the Clips since that surprising blowout win on opening night.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 5.0 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 5.0
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2