Kings of the road: Houston Rockets trounce Los Angeles Lakers

By Dan Arrit, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 4, 2017 at 10:28 AM
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LOS ANGELES -- The Houston Rockets spent a few days lounging in Southern California, waiting to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Maybe that contributed to their slow start, but they hit top speed in a hurry and won their sixth consecutive road game, 118-95 at Staples Center.

James Harden scored 36 points and handed out nine assists, and the Rockets set an NBA record by winning their sixth straight road game by at least 15 points.

Eric Gordon scored 22 points off the bench and Chris Paul finished with 21 points and six assists for the Rockets (18-4).

"I told them that we have to fight not having energy," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There were a couple guys I thought tonight were a little low on the energy scale."

Kyle Kuzma had 22 points and 12 rebounds off the bench to lead the Lakers (8-15). Brandon Ingram contributed 18 points and nine rebounds, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 16 points, and Larry Nance Jr. finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost five straight.

The Rockets had made at least 18 3-pointers in their past six games, a mark no other team has reached in more than two straight games in NBA history. Houston shot 14 for 37 from beyond the arc against the Lakers.

"That's what their DNA is, so when you get them going off on threes, they're tough to beat," Kuzma said.

The Rockets made a 3-pointer on their first possession of the second half to take their biggest lead through that point, 64-46, but the Lakers pulled as close as three points with a 12-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Brook Lopez.

After regaining a double-digit advantage with a 9-0 run, the Rockets took an 85-73 edge into the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles didn't get any closer.

"They're like a well-oiled machine, and it just keeps going," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "As soon as we have breakdowns, or as soon as we go dry offensively, that lead just builds back up with the way that they shoot the ball, the way they can get to the free-throw line. That's a good team."

The Lakers came in tied for the NBA lead at 17 turnovers a game, and they committed 20 against the Rockets.

"The turnovers again killed us," Walton said. "We talk about it every day in practice. We literally are doing drills that the players joked are like high school drills, but that's what it's come to. We've got to start taking care of the basketball."

Harden and Gordon scored 20 points apiece in the first half as the Rockets surged to a 61-46 lead following a slow start in their first game since Wednesday. Gordon was especially productive on drives to the basket.

"The good thing about (Gordon's) game is he doesn't rely on the 3," D'Antoni said. "He's hard to guard. If they're going to switch, then he can go, and he showed it the first half."

Houston missed nine of its first 11 field-goal attempts and committed three turnovers as the Lakers bolted to an 11-5 lead.

The score was tied at 27-27 entering the second quarter, and the Rockets used a 10-0 run to move ahead 39-32 on a 3-pointer by Harden. Los Angeles missed eight consecutive field-goal attempts before Kuzma hit a 3-pointer to end the run.

Harden stayed on the floor after picking up his third foul with 3:24 left, and Houston continued to expand its lead. Harden scored eight points in a span of 1:25 to give the Rockets their biggest lead at 59-44 with 1:11 remaining in the half, and they took the 15-point edge into the break.

"We've just got too many good offensive players," D'Antoni said. "It would be very hard for us to go a long time without making shots or making baskets or James figuring something out or Chris is figuring something out."

The Lakers shot 31.9 percent from the floor in the first half, compared to 52.3 by Houston, but stayed within striking distance thanks to 18 second-chance points.

Overall, Houston outshot Los Angeles from the floor 50.6 percent to 38.1 percent.

NOTES: Houston F Ryan Anderson left late in the first half with back tightness and did not return. ... Lakers F Corey Brewer appeared in his 300th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the NBA. He played 11 scoreless minutes. The last player to appear in at least 300 consecutive games was Tristan Thompson, whose streak of 447 straight appearances ended last April. Former Laker A.C. Green owns the all-time record of 1,192 straight games played from 1986 to 2001. ... The Rockets' 10-1 start on the road this season is their best since opening 11-1 in the 1996-97 season. ... Houston won six consecutive road games in the same season for the first time since 2010-11.

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