Failure to launch.
The Los Angeles Lakers missed 12 free throws, as they were grounded by the Houston Rockets, 126-111, on Thursday night at the Toyota Center.
James Harden had a triple-double, dominating the game with 50 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Harden also shot a season-high 19 free throws, and made 18 of them, more than the entire Lakers team combined.
"It was a good test against a good team. Unfortunately, we didn't pass the test," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton following the loss. "We gave up way too many free throws, 18 of those to Harden. We missed wide open threes, and wide open free throws. You can't win like that."
LeBron James led the Lakers with a team-high 29 points, and Kyle Kuzma chipped in 24.
"We gave up too many offensive rebounds for second chance points," said James on why the Lakers lost. "What we didn't want to do was put James on the free throw line, and he got there 20 times."
The Lakers simply had no answers for Harden in the game, and down the stretch, as the leading scorer in the league helped Houston erase a two-point deficit in the fourth quarter, turning it into a 12-point lead in less than five minutes.
At one point, Harden went on a 9-0 run by himself, sinking three free throws and back-to-back three pointers before Lakers head coach Luke Walton was forced to call a timeout.
"It started with fouling, giving up free throws, those are easy points for him," said Walton of the game-changing run by Harden. "You hit three late and all of a sudden you're in a rhythm. That's what happened. That whole thing started with giving him three free throws at the end."
The Lakers were 15-for-27 (55 percent) from the free-throw line and committed 13 turnovers. They were also outscored 27-to-9 in the game on second chance points.
"We gave up 27 second chance points," added Walton. "Can't win on the road doing that. We didn't help ourselves."
Chris Paul had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, and Clint Capela had 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lakers are now winless in two matches against the Rockets this season after losing 115-124 to Houston at Staples Center in October.
Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo famously got into a fight in that game that led to suspensions for both players.
Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (hand) did not travel with the team to Houston.
Lakers: Kuzma received a technical foul in the first quarter for arguing about a foul call. ... Brandon Ingram missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Kuzma had 24 points to give him 20 or more points in a career-best six straight games.
Rockets: Brandon Knight played in his first game since Feb. 15, 2017, after recovering from surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. He came in with about four minutes left in the first quarter and played about four minutes with one assist and one rebound. ... James Ennis sat out with a strained right hamstring.
Lakers: Visit Charlotte on Saturday night.
Rockets: Visit Memphis on Saturday night.