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Lakers thank fans, reward them: Five takeaways vs. Rockets

Players dive for a loose basketball.
Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker dives for a loose ball to help seal the win after teammate Wesley Matthews stripped it from Rockets center Kelly Olynyk on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers raised their 17th NBA championship banner Wednesday night at Staples Center, waiting to do so until fans were allowed inside the arena.

In front of about 4,000 fans, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and co-captains LeBron James and Anthony Davis addressed the crowd and thanked the fans for their support.

Then with James (right ankle sprain), Davis (left adductor tightness), Alex Caruso (right foot soreness) and Dennis Schroder (NBA’s health and safety protocols) all sitting out, the short-handed Lakers went about their work of trying to win their regular-season home finale.

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 124-122 victory over the Houston Rockets:

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1. Talen Horton-Tucker simply picked up where he left off from Tuesday night’s game, which he won with a three-pointer, playing with poise and determination in making his fourth start of the season and helping the Lakers to their third straight victory.

He had his highs and lows in the game against the Rockets, producing a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists. He had two steals and three turnovers, one with 55.9 seconds left and the Lakers holding a two-point lead.

But Horton-Tucker played 37 hard minutes, and he was the only ballhandler the Lakers had.

“I feel like I did OK,” Horton-Tucker said. “Could’ve did a bit better, the turnovers and things like that, knowing the time and score. But you know, I feel like, I don’t know how to keep putting it, but it’s just being a listener and a learner just trying to learn from my mistakes and listen to everybody that’s telling me the right things.”

2. With the game on the line, Kyle Kuzma came through in the clutch for the Lakers, showing another side of his development.

Kuzma made a driving layup in the lane for a 123-122 Lakers lead with 6.9 seconds left.

“I just saw the floor flat. Took my time, just waited for everyone to flatten out,” Kuzma said. “And just shaded him left and I just made a play, tried to get an angle and it worked out well.”

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Kuzma almost had a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

3. The Lakers had to make one last stop to get the win over the Rockets. Wesley Matthews, who has been playing well as of late, came up with the big defensive play for the Lakers.

The veteran guard stripped the ball away from Rockets center Kelly Olynyk, and Horton-Tucker jumped on the loose ball for the Lakers.

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4. For the second consecutive game, Andre Drummond posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“I’ve been really challenging him to just be great on both sides of the ball, protecting the rim and being efficient around the basket, playmaking, being big on the offensive glass,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I thought we saw that from him tonight. He had another strong performance, second night in a row.”

5. The Lakers did their best work inside, setting a team record in the process.

They had 86 points in the paint, topping the previous franchise mark of 82 points against Houston on Dec. 31, 2017.


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