The Houston Rockets escapes with a win against the Los Angeles Lakers after heated brawl late in fourth quarter.
The Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 124-115 as they spoiled the Lakers home opener and LeBron James’ regular-season debut at Staples Center. James Harden scored 36 points, grabbed seven boards, and had five assists while Chris Paul finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists.
At the 4:13 mark of the fourth quarter, an altercation ensued after Brandon Ingram shoved James Harden off Harden’s rebound on a LeBron James missed shot. Both Ingram and Harden were separated then Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul had a heated argument which resulted with blows between the two after the Paul stuck a finger in Rondo’s face.
In the midst of punches being thrown between the two, Ingram was seen coming back into the fold and he threw punches in the melee. Players had to be separated once again and the referees ruled that Ingram was given a double technical and ejected for his involvement. Paul and Rondo were also ejected from the contest.
Paul made a claim that Rondo had spit in his face which caused him to take exception and retaliate in the scuffle.
There are definite suspensions and fines to come from this altercation that will be handed down to Ingram, Rondo, and Paul, sometime on Sunday.
With 2:31 left in the game, PJ Tucker made a three-point shot to extend the Rockets lead to 117-112. Eric Gordon’s driving layup with 18.7 seconds left sealed the Rockets’ first win of the season.
Harden also scored 11 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. His late-game three-pointer at 1:12 on the clock extended the Rockets lead to seven.
Los Angeles was outrebounded by Houston 54-44 as Clint Capela and Carmelo Anthony led the Rockets with rebounding the ball. Capela was hot in the paint as he posted 19 points on 9-16 field goals with a 56.2 percentage.
It was a fast-paced game between the two teams from start to finish as the Lakers tried to keep up with the Rockets offensively but on the defensive end, the Lakers could not contain the Rockets and in getting consistent stops.
In his regular season debut at the Staples Center, James was welcomed to cheers and ovations by a sellout crowd. James scored 24 points, had five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block in almost 40 minutes of gameplay.
Prior to this matchup, James was on a minutes restriction to preserve his body but he came to the conclusion that he wants to play more minutes as he wants to compete for a championship.
The Lakers were also not great from the three-point line as they were 8-32 on 25 percent of their three-point shots while the Rockets were 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. Though the Lakers bad from the three, Lonzo Ball was 50 percent from beyond the arc as he was the only player for Los Angeles to have a consistent three-point shot on the night.
Off the bench, Ball finished the game with 14 points on 4-8 three-point shooting, six rebounds, and four assists.
JaVale McGee had himself a game. Following his good showing in the Portland loss, McGee had another productive showing in his 20 minutes of play. He was effective on the floor as he scored 16 points on 7-11 field goals with six rebounds, five blocks, and two assists.
McGee had four blocks in the first half alone. He was also productive early in the third quarter as he scored seven points before subbing out at the 7:23 mark of the quarter. On a Rondo assist, McGee made an alley-oop to get the Lakers within five. He then finished inside the paint on a James assist to get the Lakers’ deficit to three, 79-76.
Ball’s assist to McGee led to a slam dunk to get the Lakers within one 109-108, towards the middle of the fourth quarter.
Though it is still early, the Lakers will need to continue to build their chemistry and communication in order to compete against playoff-contending Western Conference teams.
The Lakers are now 0-2 to start their season and will look to get their first win of the season on Monday as they will host the San Antonio Spurs at 7:30 p.m. PT.