The spotlight was on Los Angeles last night as the LeBron-Led Lakers had their first home game of the season against the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets were back in action at the Staples Center following the shellacking they received from New Orleans.
Immediately from the tip, the Rockets looked much better in this game than they did against the Pelicans.
It was LeBron’s first meaningful game at home in Los Angeles and it was against the Rockets.
Let’s take a look at the positives, the negatives and the horrendous from the second game of the season for the Rockets.
Next: The Positives
Clint Capela had a rough night on Wednesday as he was outplayed in every facet of the game against Anthony Davis, but last night he bounced back strong as he was more active from the tip.
Capela finished with 11 points and was impactful all night long, catching lobs, contesting shots, and even showing off some of his footwork in the paint.
Capela looked more comfortable last night in LA, and to be fair, some of his bad play from Wednesday could have been due some rust as Capela did miss most of the preseason. Expect to continue to see Capela’s play to improve as the season goes along.
Despite James Harden nearly finishing with a triple double against the Pelicans, Harden did not have a great game as he struggled to get in rhythm with his shot, and had a few careless turnovers, but on Saturday night Harden was back to playing at the MVP level Rocket fans are accustomed of seeing.
Harden’s best play of the night came in the second quarter as he blew past LeBron James and threw down a monster dunk that even got a few “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from the LA crowd.
After the altercation, James Harden took over down the stretch, including a dagger step back 3 pointer that he drilled with a little over a minute left over Lonzo Ball which gave the Rockets a 7 point lead.
CP3 had a couple of playoff flashback moments in last night’s game and of course was a part of the main event of the night against Rajon Rondo.
Paul, like in the playoffs, did a great job at stopping the bleeding when the Lakers would get a run going, especially during a point in the game when Lonzo Ball began to knock down a few 3 pointers.
Chris Paul was very effective overall on the night, and of course was effective in landing a couple of punches on Rajon Rondo.
That whole altercation was very unusual as it was initiated by Brandon Ingram of the Lakers on a very obvious foul.
Chris Paul is expected to miss the next few games due to the altercation as suspensions are guaranteed to be handed out to these three players as soon as today.
Gerald Green was a huge spark in this game as he finished with 13 points on an efficient 5 for 6 shooting night.
Next: The Negatives
James Ennis III
James Ennis continues to struggle in his second regular season game as a Rocket.
Ennis has had problems with fouls, is struggling to knock down open threes, and throughout the night also seemed confused on the defensive end. He did manage to knock down two 3s, though, so hopefully, that can start something.
Some of it has to do with trying to adjust with a new Rockets system, but just from an eye test Carmelo Anthony has done a better job overall, including on defensive end.
Carmelo Anthony in the second half
Anthony has been just alright in his first two games as a Rocket. Although Anthony has done a better job at impacting the games than Ennis, in the second half of both games Anthony has struggled to make open shots.
Similar to Ennis, some of his second half struggles has to do with trying to adjust to a new system, and it should be expected for Carmelo Anthony to get better as the season progresses.
Another night, and another rough game for MCW.
The preseason success that Carter-Williams had has not translated into the regular season. If MCW cannot turn it around quickly, he may lose his spot in the rotation once Nene and Brandon Knight get healthy.
Next: The Horrendous
Rockets transition and backdoor defense
Once again, the Rockets struggled to get back on defense, and have had miscommunication errors in a halfcourt set when the Lakers would run backscreen on Rockets defenders and the Rockets would leave players open for layups.
When it mattered however, the Rockets outscored the Lakers and were able to get stops, but 115 points is still more than the Rockets should be allowing.
JaVale McGee Fadeaways
Because of the Rockets constant switching on defense, there were many times during the game when McGee would get matched up against smaller defenders.
The Lakers would give McGee the ball to try and exploit the matchup, however there were many points when McGee would settle for fadeaway jumpers, and McGee even made one from the free throw line, however, the Rockets and any other team playing against the Lakers will be more than content with letting McGee take those jumpers.
As mentioned earlier, the entire altercation was a mess from the beginning. Brandon Ingram should have never shoved James Harden, and Rondo and Chris Paul should have never thrown and landed actual punches.
Although a fight like this will always energize a crowd, altercations like these are extremely dangerous, especially after the Paul-Rondo altercation when Ingram came charging and swinging at the air.
One wrong move, and their could be a serious injury on the court, just ask Rudy Tomjanovich, there is a reason why the NBA has done everything it can to take altercations like these out of the game.
The Rockets are back in action against the Clippers tonight, likely without Chris Paul.