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Another game, another fourth quarter collapse, another Lakers loss, this time to Rockets

Dec 5, 2012, 1:38 AM EDT

Greg Smith AP

It boils down to this — the Lakers are not good enough right now for their stars to make mistakes and still win, while the Rockets were just good enough to exploit those mistakes.

For two games in a row the Lakers have taken leads deep into the fourth quarter. Then blown them as the other team hacked-a-Dwight and the Lakers fell apart. Los Angeles has given up 74 fourth quarter points in those two losses.

This time it was Houston making the plays late – and hitting their free throws and key threes — to get a 107-105 win. Houston improves to 9-8 on the season, the Lakers fall to 8-10 and 1-5 on the road. By the way, six of their next seven are on the road.

And after the last two games, you can bet every one of those teams is ready and willing to start fouling Dwight Howard late in the game.

It’s not hack-a-Dwight alone that costs the Lakers games, rather it is when teams start fouling Howard the entire Lakers rhythm on both ends of the floor becomes disrupted. They revert to choices on offense — Kobe Bryant took the last six shots alone, on his way to a 39-point performance — and even their defense falls apart.

This time that included Kobe missing key defensive assignments late as Tony Douglas was wide open for a corner three plus got to the line for key free throws.

The Lakers can’t have mistakes from their stars because the talent after Kobe and Howard the talent level takes a steep drop off a cliff with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol out. The Lakers bench got outscored 57-20 by the Rockets bench.

Still the Lakers should have won this. Los Angeles led from the start of this game and seemed in control — while they weren’t getting as many stops as Lakers fans might like the Lakers had a comfortable lead most of the way. Following a Jordan Hill dunk the Lakers were up 11 with just more than seven minutes left.

But the Rockets made a little run then went to hack-a-Dwight down four — 97-93 — with 3:18 on the clock. You can argue it didn’t work all that well because Howard hit 5-of-10 free throws before the clock reached two minutes (when hack-a-Dwight would mean free throw and the ball out of bounds for the Lakers). When hack-a-Dwight ended, the Lakers were still up two points.

But their rhythm was off, and it showed the rest of the way.

Greg Smith of Houston was the best player on the floor in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting plus getting three rebounds. He finished with 21. Douglas had 22 for Houston. The Rockets got this win with James Harden (15 points), Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin combining to shoot 10-for-43. But Harden had a key offensive rebound and guys just found a way to contribute and make plays.

The Lakers don’t have that. Right now they don’t have enough down the stretch to win games unless their stars are perfect. And Howard is not perfect at all from the line.

  1. ebrownwareagle - Dec 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    @paul

    “Sorry Brown, I don’t disappear when the lakers lose.”

    Paul I’m glad you agree with me. You don’t disappear when they lose. You popped up just as I stated. And I could careless about your schedule man. Not interested.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Schedule:
      1) Breakfast
      2)Chastise LakerLuver
      3) Lunch
      4) Harass Bozos
      5) Dinner
      6) Denigrate LakerLuver and Bozos
      7) Bedtime
      8) Dream about castigating LakerLuver/Bozos

      • 00maltliquor - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:20 AM

        LMAO!!

  2. claymatthewshairplugs - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Kobe’s defense leaves a ton to be desired. As an unbiased Laker fan who’s watched many of their games, Kobe takes way too many gambles often ending up leaving a 3 pt shooter WIDE open to make the 3 and then gives an ice cold stare to a teammate essentially blaming him for the missed offensive set that he messed up on. This team still has bench problems, a lack of shooting, and most of all no identity.

  3. paulhargis53 - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    browneye: Congrats on catching my error in typing. +1 for you.

    Obviously my schedule DOES interest you.
    You certainly seem to be tracking my posts…….

  4. joeksnuffy - Dec 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    As a Warriors fan, I was not happy when the Ws were allegedly in the hunt for Howard and was thankful that they didn’t mortgage their future to get him. I think Superman is overrated. Yes, he is an amazing physical specimen. But, he can’t shoot and doesn’t have the rip-your-head-off attitude of Shaq to compensate. As Shaq said, Howard should be a 28-15 guy, but he lacks the killer instinct. All the on-paper predictions of the Lakers reaching the finals were based on all these players being in their prime, not with aging Kobe and old man Nash. And then to hire a run-and-gun coach like D’Antoni. I just don’t get it. I guess they will probably pull it together enough to make the playoffs and will probably have switched places with the Warriors by season’s end. But, look for a smack down at some point in the playoffs, which will officially signal that it’s rebuilding time for the Lakers. Nobody can stop Miami this year, unfortunately.

  5. 00maltliquor - Dec 5, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    D’Antoni got to be one of the dumbest coaches every to not adjust to win the game by leaving Howard out there to get hacked like that. I love Mike D but that is just stupid and ignorant. Dwight isn’t the only one to blame, that last 5 min. worth of defense was horrendous. And in true Laker fashion, no matter what year it is, they let another nobody become a superstar (that Smith guy). They should have also went for the tie instead of Kobe taking that 3 at the end. What a crappy way to lose.

  6. paulhargis53 - Dec 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Bozo: If you weren’t lakerluver, you wouldn’t keep addressing the situation.
    You’d deny it once and move on.

    Enough people are seeing the sameness in your posts, from sentence structure to the same insults. The only thing that the bozo name does different is not capitalize lakers.

    By the way, no one is “boiling over” from your comments. Your a minor annoyance, like a mosquito. We’d prefer you not be here, but will squash you when you land.

    Get it?

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