Gameday: Lakers 99, Rockets 98
thursday, november 7 6:30pm at the toyota center
Chris Kaman, Wes Johnson
Chris Kaman, Wes Johnson
|X. Henry||SF||C. Parsons|
|S. Williams||PF||D. Howard|
|P. Gasol||C||O. Asik|
|S. Blake||SG||J. Harden|
|S. Nash||PG||J. Lin|
K. Bryant: Achilles Out
No Injuries Reported.
Blake's Shot with 1.3 seconds left lifts Lakers
By Kristie Rieken
November 08, 2013
HOUSTON (AP) Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni paid a lot of attention to former Lakers center Dwight Howard down the stretch.
He needed to get the ball out of the hands of Houston Rockets guard James Harden and figured the best way to do that was with the "Hack-a-Howard" defense.
The strategy worked perfectly with Howard missing seven late free throws to allow the Lakers to keep it close before Steve Blake hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift them to a 99-98 victory Thursday night.
"I think it went real well because we took Harden out of the game," D'Antoni said.
Howard spurned the Lakers to sign an $88 million deal with Houston, joining Harden and a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009.
A somber Howard called his free throw shooting "terrible," but wouldn't concede that this loss was more difficult because it was against his former team.
"Every loss hurts," said Howard, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds. "Nobody likes to lose. It's very upsetting that we lost the way we did."
D'Antoni's decision to foul Howard was surprising because last season he said that the hack-a-whoever defense was bad for the game.
"That doesn't mean you're not going to use it, if it's out there," he said. "I'm not crazy."
Houston led by two points before Blake took the inbounds pass from Jodie Meeks and made the game-winning shot.
The Rockets were disappointed they let Blake get free for the winning basket.
"Guys just kind of messed up on the play," Howard said. "It happens."
The Rockets had a chance to win it, but Patrick Beverley's 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the backboard.
"I was in a rhythm and then they started fouling Dwight," said Harden, who scored 35 points. "It kind of slows us down. It slows our pace down and what we like to do. Good coaching."
The Rockets took their first lead since the first quarter on a dunk by Chandler Parsons following a steal by Harden that made it 93-91 with about 4 minutes left. Parsons left his arms outstretched as he came down from the dunk to wild applause from the home crowd. Harden had tied it up about a minute earlier on a 3-pointer.
The Lakers started fouling Howard every time he touched the ball after that, sending him to the line 12 times, but he made just five.
Meeks, who led the Lakers with 18 points, made a 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes remaining to cut the lead to two.
The Lakers struggled all last season amid reports that Howard and Kobe Bryant didn't get along, and were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Los Angeles could have offered him a 5-year contract worth $118 million, but he chose to make the move to Houston with a four-year deal.
"He made his choice, which is good," D'Antoni said of Howard. "You've got to respect that. He's fine and they're going to have a great team. You're just happy for everybody because we won."
The Lakers extended their lead to 14 points on a jump shot by Chris Kaman with about 8 minutes left in the third quarter. Houston finally got its offense going after that, going on a 15-3 run to get within 74-72 with 3 minutes left in the quarter.
A highlight in that span came when Howard bobbled a bad pass from Harden before getting a handle on it and spinning around to finish with a dunk. The Rockets got eight points from Jeremy Lin during that run and the Lakers had three turnovers.
Wesley Johnson made a 3-pointer to cool off the Rockets, but a 3-pointer by Harden just near the end of the quarter cut the lead to 81-77.
Houston shot just under 35 percent and made just two of 13 3-point attempts in the first half. But the Rockets stayed in the game by making 18 of 27 free throws - 25 in the second quarter alone - before halftime. The Lakers didn't share in Houston's long-range shooting woes in the first half, hitting 11 of 14 3-point attempts.
The Lakers led by 17 points early in the second quarter before Houston used a 13-5 spurt capped by seven points from Harden to cut the lead to 45-36 about 7 1-2 minutes before halftime.
Harden's seven points came in just 35 seconds. He made the second of two free throws before hitting a 3-pointer seconds later. Howard got a rebound on the other end and Harden made a layup. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw.
Harden made five more free throws in the last 1:19 of the first half, but 3-pointers by Steve Nash and Meeks extended the Lakers lead to 64-50 at halftime.
NOTES: Former Rockets star Tracy McGrady and current Houston Texans J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson attended the game. ... Meeks made the first four 3-pointers he attempted to tie a career-high for most 3-pointers made without a miss.
Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
COACH MIKE D’ANTONI
(On how the final play was drawn up)
“Well, we did draw it up that way. We were taking the three. Obviously, if we didn’t have it, we were going to try and drive it. We just wanted to win the game and get out of here. (On the ten second play) We had a little miscommunication on who to throw the ball to.”
(On beating the Rockets)
“It shows that there are spots that were good and we’re getting a little better. Our guys created energy the whole game and there were spots that were good, but we still have a long ways to go. It’s one game, and their good, and we’re still a work in progress. We were a little sloppy and those are the things that we have to cure. We’re not real secure right now about what we’re doing. With that energy, and that kind of effort and that chemistry, we can get there.”
(On the free throw difference)
”Home town refereeing (laughter), I haven’t heard that in quite awhile. It was because on about fifteen of them, we fouled Dwight (Howard) and then Harden is one that is tough to defend without fouling, and I think that’s normal.”
(On shooting the three to win the game)
“They had the momentum and where playing well in front of the home crowd and it was one of those things that I had confidence in Steve (Blake) to be able to hit it. He was hot. We messed up the first play and didn’t run it right, but we got it right finally and it worked out.”
(Ob Steve Blake’s play)
“If you go back to last year, I’m not very surprised at all because he had some very food games down the stretch like this and he’s coming off a little bit of cold shooting this year, but I love the guy, for his effort, for his defense, and he can just play. He doesn’t surprise me.”
(On how he feels after winning the game in Houston)
“It was huge for us as a team. We all contributed and played great defense. As everyone knows, out last two road games we really struggled and got us to keep our confidence and come here and play hard, play well, and what a way to finish the game.”
(On the final play at the ten second mark)
“Well Jody (Meeks) wasn’t supposed to throw the ball where he threw it, but that’s ok because we had to make up for each others’ mistakes. Steve (Nash) and I were on the top and kind of circled each other and tried to see if we could get them to make a mistake and when I saw the opportunity to pop out, and then Dwight (Howard) was closing out on me and then I was able to make a shot. I felt like the shot was good, but you really don’t know until it goes in. It felt clean, I shot the ball with confidence and man, thank God for the opportunity. That’s probably the best shot I’ve made in my career. I’ve never quite made a shot like that. It would have been better if the buzzer was going off when it went in, but it was just a great team effort.”
(On the win)
“It was obviously a great win and a lot of fun for us. We’ve been struggling a little bit, trying to keep our head above water and it was a huge win. It was a great win for us in terms of the belief and some reward for all the hard work and sticking together.”
(On Dwight Howard)
“We were just trying to play and beat him (Dwight Howard) and his presence was felt and we felt like we were in pretty good form and playing fairly well. I looked back at tonight and think about how many shots we missed and we just hung around and found away to win at the end.”
(On the final play)
“Originally, I think that Steve (Blake) was going to set a pick for me, but I noticed my guy wasn’t going to leave me so I could try and set up Steve (Blake) for an easy shot. I just tried to set a double screen and use my man to set a double screen on his guy and Steve (Blake) did every thing to help us get a win. It looked good (Steve Blake’s shot). I saw him come off wide open and he got his feet set and I felt this has got a chance, and obviously it was pretty and I was happy for him and for our team.”
(On the first half)
“We started off with great energy and having fun and sharing the ball and playing D. Everybody had runs and that’s just part of basketball.”
(On the second half)
“We kind of were just going through the motions. We were up and down and up and down and somehow we found ourselves in a hole and we had to what we do. We had to the hack-a-Dwight to stay with it and we made some big plays. Blake hit a big shot. This was by far our best win. It was very intense and then we hit that 3-pointer at the end.”
THE FACT: The Los Angeles Lakers snapped a four-game slide at Toyota Center in their reunion with center Dwight Howard and his new team, the Houston Rockets.
THE LEAD: The Lakers can thank Howard's poor free-throw shooting and Steve Blake's deadly aim from the perimeter for their first road victory of the season.
Howard shot 5-for-16 at the charity stripe, including 1-for-6 over the final 2:30 of regulation, and Blake buried a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift L.A. to a 99-98 win over Houston on Thursday at Toyota Center.
The Lakers (3-3) overcame a 35-point barrage from Rockets guard James Harden with a balanced attack, as six players scored in double figures. Jodie Meeks led L.A. with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, while Blake added 14 points. Wes Johnson netted 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots off the bench.
In addition to Harden's high-scoring effort, Howard recorded a double-double of 15 points and 14 boards for Houston (4-2). Chandler Parsons connected on 6 of 11 shot attempts for 16 points, while Jeremy Lin chipped in with 16 points, three assists and three steals. In the end, however, Howard's brick fest at the foul line and the Rockets' lackluster perimeter defense let them down when it mattered most.
QUOTABLE: "Well, originally, I think Steve [Blake] was going to set a pick for me, but I noticed my guy wasn't going to leave me so I could set Steve up for an easy shot. I just tried to set a double screen, and use my man to set a double screen on his guy. ... I saw him come off [the screen] wide open, he got his feet set, and I was like, 'This has got a chance.'"
-- Lakers guard Steve Nash on Blake's game-winner
THE STAT: Including Harden's inspired effort Thursday, the last three shooting guards the Lakers have faced have totaled 87 points (29.0 ppg) on 28-for-48 (58.3 percent) shooting.
QUOTABLE II: "Our free throws were terrible. We just have to keep working. It was terrible tonight."
-- Howard on the Rockets' 63.5-percent performance at the foul line.
TURNING POINT: Johnson out-hustled Harden and Howard for an offensive rebound, and his putback gave the Lakers a 91-88 lead with 4:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. Harden came up with a quick response, pushing the ball up the floor before stopping behind the 3-point line and nailing a shot that knotted the game at 91. Houston continued its surge from there, holding L.A. scoreless over its next six possessions while grabbing a 97-91 advantage with 2:30 to play. The reeling Lakers then employed the "Hack-a-Howard" tactic to remain within striking distance, as the 6-foot-10 big man missed five of his next six attempts at the charity stripe to allow the Lakers to close the gap to 98-96. After L.A. made a pair of crucial defensive stops to keep its deficit at two points, Blake sprung free and drilled a 3-pointer to put the Lakers ahead 99-98 with 1.3 seconds to go. Patrick Beverley's desperation heave at the buzzer did not come close to falling in the hoop, and L.A. escaped with a confidence-boosting victory.
QUOTABLE III: "I think [the Hack-a-Howard] went real well because it took Harden out of the game. ... I thought the tide had turned, and Harden's tough to guard one-on-one. I'd rather have Dwight there instead of Harden."
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni on the thinking behind intentionally fouling Howard in crunch time.
HOT: L.A. took advantage of Houston's sluggish rotations and poor perimeter defense in general during the opening half, knocking down 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) attempts from behind the arc. Five different Lakers got on the scoreboard from long distance before halftime, with Blake, Johnson, Meeks and Nash each connecting on multiple treys.
NOT: L.A. forward Pau Gasol never found his touch, finishing with only two points on 1-for-10 (10.0 percent) shooting from the field.
GOOD MOVE: D'Antoni made two changes to his starting five, inserting Chris Kaman and Nick Young in for Shawne Williams and Xavier Henry. The swap definitely had a positive effect in the early going, when the Rockets were content to launch jumpers rather than drive toward Gasol and Kaman on the interior. After limiting Houston to 2-for-13 shooting over the opening seven-and-half minutes, the Lakers built a 17-6 lead.
BAD MOVE: D'Antoni said before the game that his team had to keep Harden in front of them to limit the Rockets' offensive production. Instead, apart from a brief stint of success in the first quarter, L.A. allowed Harden to roam through their defense for layups and trips to the foul line. Harden finished the contest with one more free-throw attempt than the entire Lakers roster.
NOTABLE: Nash competed in his 1,207th game Thursday, matching Shaquille O'Neal for 28th on the NBA's all-time games played list. ... Houston missed 19 free-throw attempts (33-for-52) and shot a dismal 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from behind the arc. ... Harden has registered 96 points, 23 rebounds and 17 assists over his last three meetings with the L.A. ... The Lakers became the first opponent to outrebound Houston this season, taking the battle of the boards 47-44. ... Howard has recorded four double-doubles in six games this season.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers: Friday @ New Orleans, Sunday vs. Minnesota, Tuesday vs. New Orleans. For the Rockets: Saturday vs. L.A. Clippers, Monday vs. Toronto, Wednesday @ Philadelphia.
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