Lou Williams had hit a bit of a slump. In the six games before Wednesday night, he made only seven of 30 shots.
Then he faced the Lakers and broke it. He made seven shots in a row before he missed, and finished with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting, making seven three-pointers in the Houston Rockets' 139-100 win.
Rather than gloat, he empathized.
"You know what? I was just with those guys three weeks ago," he said. "I've been through some of the same struggles that they are still going through and so I just wanted to go out and compete, and not kind of rub it in their face. I have developed some relationships with those guys. When you are losing, that kind of builds the character of everybody together.…
"Some of those young guys are really genuine guys who are going out there and competing as hard as they can, just trying to get the job done."
The Lakers traded Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick. Williams had been their leading scorer and a fourth-quarter closer for them. With a focus on developing their young players, and needing a first-round pick in case theirs goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers dealt him right before the deadline.
With the move, Williams instantly joined a championship contender.
"I've been on a few [winning teams]," Williams said. "But it feels good. It was a lot to go through the last year and a half, to have an opportunity to compete in the playoffs."
Mozgov makes it work
Timofey Mozgov has played in only two of the Lakers' last 14 games, and he won't play again unless a dire injury situation emerges during the next month.
While he's been out, Mozgov has tried to lend his expertise to rookie Ivica Zubac, now the starting center.
"In seven years you play a lot of games and you notice the strong side of these guys, what they do best," Mozgov said. "I just try to give advice. Let him know what the guys do and what the guys don't do. Make sure you prepare the game."
Mozgov was the Lakers' starting center until Feb. 6, when he was benched in favor of Tarik Black. As Coach Luke Walton has focused on developing the youth on his team, he shifted from Black to Zubac last week.
Mozgov has worked to help the team and hasn't complained, but this hasn't been a very enjoyable month.
"This isn't easy," Mozgov said. "I want to play. Same as any player in the league. … If I don't, like, say [stuff], it doesn't mean I'm OK with it. I still want to play. You didn't see me yelling, saying words all around the locker room. Doesn't mean I don't want to play."
A no-call and a complaint
Late in the game, Lakers guard David Nwaba was on a fastbreak when Rockets guard James Harden fouled him.
No whistle blew, infuriating Walton.
Still fuming after the game, Walton mentioned the play, unprompted, in his postgame interview.
"I thought David Nwaba was really good again tonight," Walton said. "He was competing the whole time. I think it's BS that on a fastbreak he gets fouled by James Harden and we don't call a foul. This kid's on a 10-day contract, fighting for his dream, and we don't call a foul because, I don't know why. But clearly that pissed me off."