Houston Rockets: Big Third Quarter Leads to Stomping of Lakers

By Brett David Roberts

Apr 8, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers forwards Wesley Johnson (11) and Ryan Kelly (4) at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were able to keep pace with the Houston Rockets for one half of basketball on Tuesday night (Apr 8), but Houston outscored the Lakers 49-29 in the third quarter to take a commanding advantage in the game. The Rockets eventually cruised to a laughable 145-130 victory.

It didn’t stand that the Lakers would fare well in this matchup. The team is second-to-last in paint defense, and getting into the paint is one of Houston’s strengths. Couple that with the Lakers’ injury problems and overall talent disparity, and the settings were in place for a lopsided win.

The Rockets were able to get into the paint at will, or swing it around the arc for open threes. While Houston didn’t put up a particularly tough stand of its own defensively, it didn’t have to.

The Lakers were badly manhandled on the interior by Omer Asik and Terrence Jones. Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly are both not physical enough and the Rockets won the battle of the boards 58-33.

The Rockets also shot 57.7 percent from the floor and hit 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from three-point range. Houston hit seven of its 11 triples in the third period. The Rockets entered the fourth quarter ahead by 25 points.

Jones did suffer a scare when his leg cramped late in the third quarter. He exited the game not to return, but finished with 32 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 33 minutes of play.

James Harden shot 10-of-15 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the line en route to 33 points and 12 assists. He was able to get where he wanted on the court against the Lakers perimeter D of Jodie Meeks and Nick Young. Meeks and Young both had nice shooting nights for Los Angeles, but even 62 from the tandem wasn’t enough to overcome 145 points by the Rockets.

The 145 point total marks the highest scored in a non-overtime game in four seasons, and it is more writing on the wall that Mike D’Antoni is likely on the way out in Los Angeles. The Rockets are still trying to get fully healthy for a playoff push as this marked the sixth consecutive game without All-Star center Dwight Howard. Asik has played really well with Howard sidelined, and he had 15 rebounds and 10 points tonight.