Dec 5, 2012, 1:38 AM EDT
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.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT
LeBron’s agent also represents Jackson
Oct 31, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT
Oklahoma City has completely relied on its two – now injured – stars
Oct 31, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT
Are they certain this time?
Oct 31, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT
Utah betting big, too big, on Burks continuing to improve
Oct 31, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
Clippers owner continues to go crazy while watching games
Oct 31, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Dirk, Monta and Chandler are the new Run DMC
Oct 31, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT
New coach didn’t give reserves enough playing time in Cleveland’s opener
Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Somehow, this seems to make sense for both sides
Oct 31, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Pregame rituals were really the best part of the game for Cavs fans.
Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Faried said Smith shot his team out of the game after the Nuggets beat the Pistons.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:22 AM EDT
LeBron slides into the loser category for a night.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:10 AM EDT
The Clippers will take the win, but it wasn’t pretty.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 AM EDT
There is no official timetable for his return, but we are likely talking 6 weeks or more he is out.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:21 AM EDT
Players should never angrily engage with fans.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:40 PM EDT
Big time shot.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:16 PM EDT
Nobody saw this coming.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
The banner is back.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT
The Sixers CEO fired back, but taking on a Hall of Fame coach isn’t usually wise.
Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
It’s going to be a rough transition for the Knicks. New Yorkers have to be patient (not always their strong suit).
- Can Thunder, without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, overcome their first identity crisis? 6
- Jazz guard Alec Burks signs contract extension worth $42 million-$45 million 6
- Thursday night NBA Winners/Losers: The injury gods show Thunder no mercy 4
- No Durant, Westbrook goes down, Thunder still make it interesting but fall to Clippers 2
- Thunder’s Russell Westbrook fractures hand, likely out 4-6 weeks 7
- LeBron struggles in Cleveland debut as Knicks stun Cavaliers 46
- LeBron, Cavaliers introduced on opening night in Cleveland (VIDEO) 5
- Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls 19