The Rockets had lost both games they’d played this season without Chandler Parsons, and didn’t look good in either contest. They were without him again on Wednesday night against the Lakers and after a bad first half it looked as if they’d make it a third straight, but then something clicked as Houston outscored the Lakers 33-15 in the third quarter to grab and 85-72 win on their way to a 113-99 win at Toyota Center.
“We played a lot harder and just got more aggressive,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said about the Rockets turnaround.
After shooting 46 percent in the first half, the Lakers were held to just 33 percent in the third, with seven turnovers. Los Angeles shot only 35 percent in the second half.
“In the first half, we had a lot of individual breakdowns on drives and just one on one plays, “ McHale said. “We let them go to their strong hand and they broke us down and it was really easy (for them). We did a better job of in the second half of defending.”
It also helps when James Harden goes off. He matched his season high with 38 points, and he is the first Rockets to go for at least 37 in three straight games since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994-95. Harden scored 23 in the second half, 17 in the third.
“In the third quarter, I was just trying to play defense and then got out of the way on offense,” Jeremy Lin said. “(Harden) just carried us and did a great job.”
Los Angeles led by four at the end of the first quarter thanks to seven points from Pau Gasol, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. They were able to stretch that lead to 11 late in the second, but the Rockets closed the half with a 10-4 run, capped by a Harden jumper at the buzzer to make it a 57-52 game.
It marked another in a long line of slow starts by the Rockets, and as they get ready to embark on a 4-game road trip they know it’s something that has to stop.
“Beginning of the game, initial start, we have to come out with a sense of urgency and can’t put ourselves in situations like that,” Harden said. “On the road, these four games, anything’s possible, if we do that, some games we may not be able to come back.
The trip starts Friday night in Atlanta. The Rockets will make stops in Washington, Boston and New Orleans before coming home to take on Oklahoma City on January 16.Follow @AdamSpolane
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