Reggie Bullock drifted backward behind the three-point line in the corner and prepared for his big moment with the Lakers, which was starting to come into view as soon as LeBron James sliced through the Houston Rockets’ defense.
Bullock already had been making his mark in the intense and important game Thursday night at Staples Center by taking his turn defending James Harden, and now he was focused on adding one more significant signature.
The pass from James was in the right spot for Bullock to rise up and deliver a dagger three-pointer with one minute, 31 seconds left that gave the Lakers a six-point lead.
Bullock would make two more free throws after Rockets guard Chris Paul and coach Mike D’Antoni had been issued back-to-back technical fouls to help seal the Lakers’ 111-106 victory.
“He’s a vet,” said James, who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. “Not only defensively was he in tune with the game plan, just trying to put pressure and make it tough on [Harden]. When he got his looks, he knocked them down. It’s great to have a shooter of his caliber, of his size, his competitive nature out on the floor. He was big for us.”
Bullock finished the game with 14 points on four-for-eight shooting, all three-point makes and attempts. He had five rebounds and was a plus-eight in the plus-minus category.
Bullock got the first call to deal with the seemingly unstoppable force that is Harden. Harden had 30 points and continued his streak of scoring at least that many points in 32 consecutive games, the second-longest in NBA history, but he was just 11 for 24 from the field and just two-for-10 from three-point range.
Bullock picked up Harden full court and tried to use his size to make it difficult for Harden to have an easy night.
“Just trying to make everything tough,” Bullock said. “I was trying to use all my fouls. He’s got patented, the step-back. He’s the head of the snake for his team, so my job when I was matched up against him was to try to make everything tough for him.”
When the Lakers acquired Bullock about three weeks ago from the Detroit Pistons, he was beyond excited because “I was a Lakers fan growing up.”
He had played his first two games with the Lakers on the road and was looking forward to putting on the home “Lakers jersey.”
The Lakers didn’t waste any time indoctrinating Bullock, inserting him into the starting lineup and seeing that pay off in a big way in the win over the Rockets.