Most teams can’t keep up with the pace of the Houston Rockets with James Harden and Jeremy Lin, so how can anyone expect the old and weak Los Angeles Lakers to do it?
The Lakers started well, playing small-ball basketball with their two big men out due to injuries. It didn’t matter, because they couldn’t defend or keep up with the pace and scoring of James Harden and Jeremy Lin. As sad of a joke the Lakers are turning out to be, the Houston Rockets (21-14), have won their fifth straight game and 10 of their last 12, scoring at least 112 points in their last three wins.
We knew we couldn’t take them lightly. They did a great job in the first half of really getting easy shots on us. In the second half we started to pick it up defensively. We got out in transition and made some easy shots.
James Harden scored 31 points and tied the franchise record of Moses Malone for games with at least 25 points. Harden had possibly his best all-around game of the season, adding six rebounds and nine assists, at it’s getting clearer that he’s has gotten it into his head that driving to the basket with only one outcome in mind, shooting, isn’t going to benefit the team. He has begun sharing the ball better and more in the last couple of weeks, and the Rockets have looked much better for it.
Jeremy Lin? He’s adjusting and adjusting to life next to Harden, a better player no matter what the position. This isn’t a competition, this is teamwork, and Lin is changing and taking what he gets instead of trying to force situations that are more comfortable for him at the expense of others. He finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals but also turned the ball over 7 times. Lin is averaging 19.5 points and shooting 53.8% from the field in the last couple of wins, although the defenses he faced weren’t the elite of the NBA.
When a team shoots 55.2% from the field, it’s very hard to lose, even when their center doesn’t have much use on the court, as Asik finished with only 2 points. Chandler Parsons finished with 20 points and Carlos Delfino added 19, including 5-7 from beyond the arc, enjoying a lot of open looks as the Lakers looked awful on defense.
The 55.2% allowed is the highest field goal percentage the Lakers have allowed in a game this season. The Lakers were unable to defend the rim without Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, allowing the Rockets to make 25 field goals inside five feet, LA’s fourth-most allowed in a game this season. James Harden had an easy job attacking the rim, attempting 12 of his 19 shots (making nine of them) from inside the paint, after struggling from close range in the previous two games against the Lakers, facing Dwight Howard.
Kobe Bryant? The myth of him scoring less and winning ended, because beyond him, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, there wasn’t anything to help the Lakers against a better team. Bryant still forced his long shot, taking two many 20 footers, finishing with 4-14 from that range. In the last 11 games he is only 35.2% from that distance.
Another good thing about the Rockets this season – they don’t lose the games they’re not supposed to. It might mean that they’re a way off from the NBA’s elite, but James Harden, and to a lesser extent Jeremy Lin as well, dictate the kind of pace and style that’s not only one of the most enjoyable to watch in the NBA, but getting much harder to beat and stop.