In this building, Corey Brewer isn’t used to being on this side of things.
Like watching the other team thump their chests, scream into the crowd and bury you with easy buckets — that side of things.
Until three weeks ago Brewer was part of the Houston Rockets, inflicting these types of games on opponents. Wednesday night he saw the young team that is now his collapse in the face of the Rockets’ barrage. The Lakers lost, 139-100, making this their second 39-point loss in Houston this season.
“We’re young, we’re young,” Brewer lamented. “We don’t know what it takes yet. I’ve been in it for a long time, we don’t know what it takes. No matter what’s happening, in an NBA game, you can get back in it. I’ve been down 25, 30 points and got back in games and won games like that. You gotta understand you always have a chance if you’re playing hard and doing the right things.”
Will these young Lakers learn this as they get more experience?
“If they don’t learn it, they won’t be in the league long,” Brewer said. “It’s all a learning experience. There’s always new guys coming in to take your position.”
The Lakers fell to 20-48 while the Rockets improved to 47-21, in their quest for the third seed in Western Conference.
Julius Randle notched his first career 30-point game, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Brandon Ingram got close to a career high, finishing with 18 points. Jordan Clarkson scored 18, again starting in place of D’Angelo Russell at point guard. He added two steals, three assists and three turnovers.
Former Laker Lou Williams, who was sent to Houston for Brewer and a first-round pick, led the Rockets with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
Russell struggled both on the court and in processing his new role. For the last two games, he’s come off the bench. That’s the first time that’s happened all season.
He fouled out for the first time in his career after playing 25 minutes 22 seconds. He made two of 10 shots, missing all five of his three-point attempts. He scored five points and committed seven turnovers.
When asked about his confidence level, Russell offered a verbal shrug.
“Still trying to figure it out,” he said. “Different role and stuff like that. It’s whatever.”
Lakers Coach Luke Walton considered starting Russell at shooting guard, but went with Nick Young instead. Young had started there for the Lakers until two games ago. He didn’t play in the two games preceding Wednesday’s, but Walton wanted him back on the court Wednesday.
Walton wanted to be able to better evaluate Clarkson as a point guard, so he used a more traditional starting lineup, rather than experiment with Russell at shooting guard.
For most of the game, the Lakers were competitive. They trailed by 11 after the first quarter and by 14 at halftime. Midway through the third quarter, Clarkson hit a three-pointer to cut the Rockets’ lead to eight.
Then the Rockets went on a 14-4 run and the Lakers couldn’t punch back.
Despite getting so close, the Lakers lost by 39 points — again.
The Rockets outscored the Lakers 46-25 in the fourth quarter.
“That’s embarrassing,” Walton said. “We need to figure out as a group, not individually, but as a group, how to handle adversity and how to react when things get tough. We do a lot of blaming of other people and we need to look at ourselves and control what we can control. Until we do, unfortunately there’s gonna be a lot of nights like tonight.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli