Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers works the ball against Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets during the game at the Toyota Center on January 8, 2014 in Houston, Texas.
The Los Angeles Lakers played a solid first half against the Houston Rockets and were unlucky to only have a five-point lead entering the locker room. However, the third quarter woes continued and cost this team yet another game. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers had trailed by as many as 20 points and lost by a final score of 113-99.
Excluding the third quarter, the Lakers outscored the Rockets 83-80. However, that third quarter was devastating.
During those dreadful 12 minutes, the Lakers only scored 15 points and allowed the Houston Rockets to add 33 points to their total. In the third, the Lakers committed seven turnovers which led to 10 points for the Rockets. In contrast, the Rockets had zero giveaways. To that point in the game, Houston only had six turnovers, so the Lakers committed more turnovers in 12 minutes than Houston had committed in 36 minutes.
To compound the sloppy play, LA shot poorly from the field and was out-rebounded. Including team rebounds, the Rockets controlled the boards with a 22 to 10 advantage during the crucial stretch. Houston also dominated the Lakers in points in the paint 18 to six. The Lakers were handily beaten for a decisive dozen minutes in Houston.
James Harden got hot and collected 17 of his season-high 38 points in that quarter. Harden scored more points than the entire Lakers team in the third period, so that should do well to explain where the Lakers lost this game.
“We started the quarter, myself included, turning the ball over,” Pau Gasol said when asked about what happened for those 12 minutes. “That led to easy baskets on the other end for them. They got in a rhythm. They got in the game. They came out aggressively.”
Gasol, once again, came out strong in the first half, but he was a non-factor in the final 24 minutes. Gasol was scoreless on two shot attempts during the crucial third quarter, but the Spaniard still finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two block shots.
Jodie Meeks also continued his hot form with 21 points on the night, but his four turnovers contributed to the Lakers’ demise. Along with Meeks, Kendall Marshall had a rough night in the turnover department. Marshall finished the night with six turnovers, and the Lakers’ starting backcourt had as many turnovers as the entire Houston Rockets team.
Ultimately, the loss in Houston was not surprising. However, the mistakes that cost the Lakers the game are correctable. If the Lakers can cut down on turnovers, they may well have a chance to start winning again.
“You can’t turn it over,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni summed up the night. “There’s no defense for that.”
Nick Young led the Lakers with 25 points and was the Lakers' best scorer despite a sore back that threatened to keep the former USC Trojan out of the game. The Lakers used the "Hack-a-Howard" late in the game. Dwight Howard finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four steals. Howard was 10-24 from the free throw line.