Los Angeles

Lakers Lose Lonzo Ball and the Game in Overtime Defeat to Rockets

James Harden had 48 points and the Houston Rockets rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 138-134, in overtime on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.

Ooh you almost had it.

James Harden had 48 points and the Houston Rockets rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 138-134, in overtime on Saturday night at the Toyota Center. 

Houston trailed by three, 120-117, with five seconds remaining in regulation, but Eric Gordon drained a game-tying three-pointer to send the contest into overtime, the second consecutive game that extended to overtime for both teams.

"I'm kicking myself for not stepping over and getting a better contest on the shot," Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, who was guarding the inbounder at the time, told reporters. "I think if I would have stepped over, he wouldn't have had anywhere to go to shoot the basketball. I put that one on me."

The Lakers led the game from wire-to-wire in regulation, but Gordon drained another three to open the extra period, to give the Rockets their first lead of the game. Houston would ultimately hold on for the victory after the Lakers let the game slip away…literally.

Trailing by two points with 12 seconds remaining in overtime, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma got caught in the corner on an inbounds pass and the ball slipped through his fingers and out of bounds to give the ball back to the Rockets. Houston would then seal the game at the free throw line.

Despite the costly mistake, Kuzma was stellar in the first half, scoring 24 points, and finishing the game with 32 points and eight rebounds.

"We did a great job sticking to the game plan," Kuzma said of the first half. "They got some momentum and started hitting some threes and got to the line a lot [in the second half]."

Brandon Ingram bolstered the Lakers offense in overtime, scoring 21 points in the game, but committed six turnovers. Lance Stephenson took over in the fourth quarter and scored 16 points off the bench.

"Lance did a really, really good job of running the basketball team," said Ingram. "He got guys shots, he got to to the basket. Zubac was really, really good. Everyone on the floor stepped up for us."

For the second straight game, Ivica Zubac, played big minutes down the stretch. After scoring a season-high 26 points in a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, Zubac played most of the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring 17 points off the bench.

"A lot of the close games comes down to what team is going to hit those close shots," Lakers head coach Luke Walton told the media "We hit those in OKC, they didn't. Tonight Houston did down the stretch and we did not."

Los Angeles led by as many as 21 points, but the game turned when point guard Lonzo Ball went back to the locker room with a left ankle injury midway through the third quarter.

Ball would later be transferred to a local hospital for x-rays, and did not return to the game. The Rockets responded with a 15-0 run to get back in the ball game. 

"Right when Lonzo went down is exactly when the game went away," said Ingram. "We lost momentum a little bit. Got away from what we were doing a little bit. Some of the pressure and defensive rebounding went down."

Ball had 11 points and a game-high 11 assists in 22 minutes before leaving the game with the left ankle injury.

"I just told him to keep his head up," Walton said of Ball's injury. "They took him to the hospital for X-rays and he will get an MRI and we'll see where we go after that."

Harden failed to score 50 or more points for the third consecutive game. After 57 and 58-point games, Harden was unable to match Lakers legend Kobe Bryant as the last player to score 50+ points in three consecutive games. However, Harden has scored 30 or more points in 19 straight games (NBA record post merger) and has scored 40 or more in 10 of his last 13 games.

However, even Harden, the reigning MVP in the NBA and the likely frontrunner to win it again this season, could only carry the Houston offense so far as they needed help from other players.

Eric Gordon added 30 points and hit five three-pointers, James Ennis III chipped in 18 points. P.J. Tucker had five steals. The Rockets attempted 68 three-pointers in the game. 

For the second consecutive game, the Lakers—the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA—had a good night at the charity stripe. Los Angles was 24-for-30 (80 percent) in the game and made all 17 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

"If we want to win close games we have to make free throws. Its good to see those step and knocking them down," Walton said of the free-throw shooting the last two games. "Now we want to do it consistently throughout the game. But we hit them when they count, and that's where guys start to grow their confidence."

Without Clint Capela in the middle for the Rockets, the Lakers out-rebounded the Rockets 56-to-39.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton was ejected from the game in the third quarter. Los Angeles fell to 5-8 without superstar LeBron James. 

Notes and Next

LeBron James (left groin) missed his 13th consecutive game as he continues to rehab in Los Angeles. Rajon Rondo (right finger) also missed the game. Chris Paul (hamstring) missed his 14th consecutive game and Clint Capela is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a right thumb injury.

The Lakers will host the Golden State Warriors in a rematch from Christmas Day on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Staples Center in Los Angeles. 

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