Steve Blake’s three-pointer lifts Lakers to upset over Rockets
Lakers 99, Rockets 98 (final)
Steve Blake hit a game-winning three-point shot with 1.3 seconds left to help the Lakers upset the Houston Rockets on the road despite playing without Kobe Bryant.
In a confusing finish with the Lakers down two and 10.9 seconds left on the clock, Jodie Meeks nearly turned the ball over on an out-of-bounds play when he passed the ball into ... nobody.
scrambled to collect the ball before it scooted across the court and out of bounds. The Lakers called for timeout with 3.4 seconds left. That set up Blake’s big shot.
Blake finished with 14 points, shooting 4 of 6 from three-point range. The Lakers shot 39.1% from the field and 45.7% from three-point range after shooting 78.6% from distance in the first half while building a 19-point lead.
After the Rockets had pushed their way back, primarily at the free-throw line (52 attempts for the game), Coach Mike D’Antoni had his players intentionally foul Dwight Howard.
The Houston center, playing against his former team for the first time since leaving via free agency in July, shot 5 of 12 from the line through that final stretch, giving the Lakers just enough room to steal the win.
James Harden finished with 35 points. Howard had 15 as the Rockets shot only 37.7% from the field.
Pau Gasol had a difficult night, often guarded by Howard, shooting 1 of 10 from the field for only two points. Gasol led the Lakers with 12 rebounds. Howard had 14 boards for Houston.
The Lakers improve to 3-3, getting their first win on the road. The Rockets fall to 4-2.
After the emotional victory, the Lakers will fly to New Orleans where they’ll play the Pelicans on Friday night.
Houston will host the Clippers on Saturday.
Lakers 81, Rockets 77 (end of third quarter)
The Rockets managed to whittle away most of the Lakers’ lead, closing to within four points by the end of the third quarter.
James Harden leads all scorers with 28 points, getting half of his points at the free-throw line (14 of 16). The Rockets are shooting only 39.7% from the field and 25% from three-point range.
The Lakers dipped to 56% shooting from long range (14 of 25) but have taken only 10 free throws to the Rockets’ 36.
Jodie Meeks leads the Lakers with 14 points, followed by reserve Wesley Johnson with 12.
Lakers 64, Rockets 50 (halftime)
The second quarter ground to a halt as the Lakers continually sent the Rockets to the free-throw line.
Houston went to the line 27 times in teh first half, making 18 (66.7%). James Harden took 13 free throws, seven more than the Lakers as a team. Harden scored 20 points to lead all scorers.
The Lakers managed to maintain their lead with red-hot three-point shooting, hitting 11 of 14 (78.6%). Jodie Meeks led the team with 11 points.
Pau Gasol scored only two points in the first half while former Lakers center Dwight Howard had six for the Rockets.
Lakers 36, Rockets 19 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers played their best quarter on the road this season, opening up an early 15-point lead over the Rockets in Houston.
Steve Blake hit a trio of three-pointers for nine points. Steve Nash scored seven points as the Lakers shot 54.2% from the field and 66.7% (6 of 9) from three-point distance.
Coach Mike D’Antoni brought Nick Young back into the starting lineup in place of Xavier Henry as well as Chris Kaman for Shawne Williams.
The Rockets, who shot only 33.3% from the field, had three players with four points, including former Lakers center Dwight Howard.
The Lakers (2-3) visit the Houston Rockets (4-1) on Thursday night, facing former center Dwight Howard for the first time since his departure.
The Rockets have tremendous potential this season while the Lakers are currently searching for wins, waiting for Kobe Bryant to return from an Achilles’ tendon injury.
Coach Mike D’Antoni is expected to start Chris Kaman alongside Pau Gasol in an effort to match Houston’s size with Omer Asik and Howard.
After their Tuesday night loss in Dallas, can the Lakers rebound with a difficult road win in Houston?
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Rockets.
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