Lakers are no match for Rockets, lose 99-87

Lakers' Nick Young is benched in second half by Byron Scott

If this keeps up, Nick Young might need a new nickname.

Swaggy DNP.

The loquacious Lakers forward was benched by Coach Byron Scott in the second half for barely passable defense in the Lakers' 99-87 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Or, as Scott said, "It looked to me, to be honest with you, that he didn't want to be there."

Young missed both his shots and had two turnovers in eight minutes, continuing his miserable January with a scoreless night.

He did not stick around Staples Center to talk to reporters. He is shooting 32% this month.

Scott had threatened to squash Young's playing time if he didn't defend better, and it finally happened.

"At halftime, we showed him something on the tape, where he was guarding [Corey] Brewer in the corner and I asked him, 'What were you thinking on this

play?' "Scott said. "The answer he gave me, I couldn't figure it out. I just felt with his body language, that he didn't want to play … so I chose not to play him."

The punishment was only for Sunday, Scott said.

The night didn't start well for the Lakers when Scott thought the game began at 7:30, not 6:30, and showed up half an hour late for his pregame media briefing.

"I had a senior moment," he said. "I forgot it was Sunday. I forgot the game was early."

The game didn't end well either for the Lakers, sitting on top of eight consecutive losses and a 12-33 record.

Now they wait for Kobe Bryant to consult a sports-medicine specialist Monday and determine whether to have season-ending surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

There was no guarantee Bryant would reach a decision Monday, according to Lakers officials, and some could even envision him trying to play with the injury, but the team continued to brace for the worst — a third consecutive season Bryant couldn't finish because of injury.

Scott tried to sound upbeat.

"I think we're all holding out hope that [Monday] it goes well, they say he doesn't need surgery or anything like that, maybe rehabilitation for a few weeks or a month or whatever the case may be," he said.

Neither Bryant nor Houston's Dwight Howard (sprained ankle) played Sunday, though there was definitely something intriguing in the arena.

The Lakers were outscored by James Harden to start the game, 13-12, and there were some boos as they fell behind, 42-23.

There was only a minor run near the midpoint of the fourth quarter, the Lakers getting as close as 89-78 amid a brief spate of cheers.

Jeremy Lin didn't shoot well (two for nine) but had 14 points and six assists while trying to rebound from his first benching for an entire game in nearly three years.

"I'm human. I've got emotions, too. It definitely hurts," he said.

Lin checked into Sunday's game with a few minutes left in the first quarter and said he was "thankful" he played.

"Definitely, a DNP will change your perspective on things, allow me to take a step back," he said.

Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 11 rebounds but rookie Jordan Clarkson went a bit backward after a promising first game as a starter — two-for-10 shooting, eight points, five turnovers.

Not that he was alone in misfiring. The Lakers were one for 13 from three-point range (7.7%).

Harden had 37 points for the Rockets (31-14), who made 13 of an incredibly high 44 three-point attempts (29.5%).

Lakers fans started a derisive Howard chant in the final minute as he sat on the bench, laughing, in a light blue suit. He has sat out 13 games because of injury or illness.

"Hasn't been able to play as much as we'd like," Coach Kevin McHale said. "Just kind of bad luck with nagging stuff that seems to keep coming."

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