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FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Rockets – Game 14 – 2023

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (8-6) | Houston Rockets (6-5)

 

The Los Angeles Lakers held on in crunch time to defeat the Houston Rockets 105-104.

The Lakers vs Rockets played at the Crypto.com Arena on Sunday.

Lakers vs Rockets | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Eric Schaben/LA Times

The Los Angeles Lakers improved to 8-6 and have won five of their last six games after defeating the Houston Rockets 105-104.

LeBron James was elite, totaling 37 points (14-of-19 FGs, 2-of-5 3s, 7-of-9 FTs), six rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. This marked James’ fifth 30-point game this season and his fourth in his last seven.

I remind him every day that he’s old,” Austin Reaves said of James. “He’s fighting Father Time better than anyone who has played except maybe Tom Brady.”

James, over the last five games, has been on a tear, averaging 29.6 points on 63 percent from the field and 51 percent from distance, along with 8.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.2 steals.

I guess I’m just in a really good groove right now,” James said.

The NBA’s All-Time leading scorer became the fourth player in league history with at least 10,500 assists (he finished with eight and is at 10,504). James also tied Vince Carter for seventh on the 3-pointers list with 2,290 and moved past Clyde Drexler for eighth on the steals list at 2,208.

He’s playing phenomenal,” Anthony Davis added about James. “His shot is falling. He’s attacking the paint. Making the right reads. He’s doing it all right now. It doesn’t feel like he’s 38.”

Davis had himself a night with 27 points (11-of-15 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), ten rebounds, and two steals.

The Rockets got outworked by the Lakers

Other than their key stars, Austin Reaves seemed like the only other Laker that came to play, as Reaves finished with 17 points (5-of-7 FGs, 2-of-3 3s, 5-of-6 FTs), six rebounds, and six assists.

The start of the Lakers vs Rockets first half. 

Lakers vs Rockets | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports

Excluding Davis, James, and Reaves, the Lakers shot a combined 9-of-42 from the field. Highlighted by Taurean Prince (1-of-11 FGs, 0-of-4 3s), Cam Reddish (3-of-9 FGs, 1-of-5 3s), D’Angelo Russell (1-of-8 FGs, 1-of-5 3s), Christian Wood (0-of-4 FGs, 0-of-3 3s), and Rui Hachimura (0-of-4 3s).

Meanwhile, James, Davis, and Reaves combined for 30 of 41 field goals in total.

However, Reddish has been averaging three steals a game over the past seven games, and he leads the NBA in steals in November, with 24, so maybe he can be cut some slack for his lackluster performance, but his teammates are inexcusable.

On the other hand, the Rockets came to play despite coming up short, led by Dillon Brooks with 24 points (9-of-21 FGs, 6-of-11 3s) and four steals. Alperen Sengun followed suit with 23 points (11-of-16 FGs), ten rebounds, and five assists, while Fred VanVleet chipped in 15 points (5-of-14 FGs, 3-of-10 3s) and 16 assists.

I liked how we battled back and kept fighting,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We just didn’t play smart at the end.”

The Lakers were sharp to open the game against Houston, hitting five of their first six shots to take an 11-4 lead.

However, Los Angeles lost their way and fell behind 28-20 after shooting just 32.1 percent for the first period and 2-for-10 on 3s (20 percent). The Rockets led by as many as 11 points, another double-digit deficit for LA in the first quarter.

The Laker offense came out hot but cooled off tremendously for 3/4 of that quarter. They weren’t hitting shots or creating good looks, and there was a lot of stagnation.

The end of the Lakers vs Rockets first half. 

Los Angeles’ second unit also struggled to create good looks with Russell and James on the bench, a consistent issue early this season. 

The start of the Lakers vs Rockets second half. 

Lakers vs Rockets | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports

With James back on the court, the Lakers’ offensive execution returned, as he led a 6-0 run to start the second period and made it 28-26, forcing Udoka to call a time-out. James had 10 points and five assists in his first 14 minutes.

At halftime, the Lakers trailed 55-49. Los Angeles shot just 20 percent from 3 in the first half compared to 45 percent from the Rockets. The Lakers made several surges in the second quarter, but Houston responded each time. The Rockets’ ball movement and 3-point shooting were the difference.

James, an elite cutter, waited for Houston to double Davis, sprinted down the lane on the left side, and caught a dime from Davis for a layup that put Los Angeles up 64-62.

The Lakers led despite being unable to find range from 3. They were 3-of-19 (15.8 percent), while the Rockets were 9-of-23 (39.1 percent).

At the end of three quarters, Los Angeles led 81-75. Davis and James combined for 23 of the Lakers’ 32 points in the third period. Houston wasn’t able to guard Davis near the paint.

All of a sudden, Los Angeles had their most significant lead of the game with eight after James scored to open the fourth period. With many of James’ teammates outside of Davis and Reaves struggling to make shots in this one, he just made them all himself.

A pair of jumpers from the king, including his second triple, had the Lakers up 97-93.

When things started to look bright, a tough call happened against the Lakers, as Sengun appeared to be moving, but Davis was called for a charge, his sixth personal with 58 seconds to play.

The Lakers couldn’t challenge the call as they had already used their challenge on an earlier foul call against Davis, but at this point of the game, he wasn’t needed.

After a huge three from Reaves and a clutch free throw from James, the Lakers walked away with another hard-earned victory.

James had 13 points on 5-of-6 FGs in the fourth, and Reaves had nine points on 2-of-2 FGs, along with the go-ahead 3 in the final minute, plus 4-of-5 FTs.

The Lakers needed every make, as the rest of the squad was 1-of-7 in the final period.

The final score of the Lakers vs Rockets was 105-104, Lakers.

The Lakers will now take on the Houston Rockets at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, November 19th, at 6:30 pm PST.

 

– Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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