Shorthanded Lakers fall behind against the worst Western Conference Rockets

Sitting at the end of the Lakers bench were Anthony Davis and LeBron James, both in their gear, both unable to help their teammates due to injuries.

Davis didn’t play because the Lakers kept him out of the second game two nights to prevent his right foot stress injury from flaring up and James was out with right foot pain.

So it was down to D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Austin Reaves and the rest of the Lakers against one Houston missiles Team with the second worst record in the NBA.

Still, the Rockets posed a threat to the Lakers because they had just defeated the Boston Celtics in their previous game, and this young Houston team has a number of athletic and experienced players who will help teams either in the playoffs or in contention want to make game difficult -in the sowing.

The Lakers found this true falls to the Rockets 114-110 Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

“We talked about it and I said it before games, on non-game days: energy, effort and urgency. And I thought there was no such thing as coming out of the gates,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “I haven’t seen much of that. I saw it on your site, Houston. young team Regardless of their record, they came to play and we felt them. They made us feel like they were attacking the paint, getting hits, getting offensive rebounds and getting extra possession. We should have been the ones to play with that kind of advantage.”

Without Davis’ defensive presence inside, the Rockets relished the paint.

The Rockets scored 48 points in the color in the first half, which helped them build an 18-point lead. They finished the game with 78 points in the suit.

“That’s because we’re not good on the ball,” Ham said of Houston’s inside game. “The
individual pride it takes to keep the ball up front and the boys behind and knowing that color is the priority. This team lives in color. The Houston Rockets live in color.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves (right) tries to get around Houston Rockets forward Tari Eason (left) during the second half Wednesday in Houston.

(Michael Wyke/Associated Press)

“And whether it’s drives, whether it’s getting second and third possessions in a given game through their offensive rebound, they live and thrive in the color. And we preached that to them before the game.”

The Lakers put on a better and more energetic performance in the third and fourth quarters, closing in on four points in the final 12 minutes.

But the Rockets responded with three consecutive three-pointers to extend their lead to 13 points, essentially ending the Lakers’ slim chances.

“As soon as we caught up, they went on a 9-0 run,” Ham said. “Jabari [Smith] meets two threesomes and then [Josh] Christopher hits a three. But you get behind the backball if you don’t come out the right way.

And even with five players scoring in double digits, the Lakers couldn’t get over their poor shooting. They shot 37.8% from the field and 25% from three-point range. They were outrebounded 51-36 and the Lakers gave up 16 offensive rebounds.

“I just think we started out 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 the way it was in the second half. But from that point on, we just fought an uphill battle.”

Reaves, who was six for 14 from the field and one for seven from three-point range, led the Lakers by 24 points off the bench. Russell had 18 points, but he was only five to 17 from the field, three to 11 from three-point range. Beasley had 16 points, but he was six for 17 from the field, four for 12 from three-point range.

As a result, the Lakers fell two games under .500 at 34-36. They have 12 regular season games left.

“We just have to play the game like it’s our last,” Vanderbilt said. “We’re running out of time. We got what, 12 games left? We’re out of freebies. We didn’t have any from the start. But we need all these games. We need to win as much as we can, especially ones like tonight against teams that aren’t even fighting for playoff spots, especially Western Conference teams. We have to win these games.”

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