(Photo By: Zach Beeker/Getty Images)
Lakers at Rockets: 3 Things to Know (1/19/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers continue their road swing against the Houston Rockets.
1) Class of ’17 was clutch in OKC
The Lakers are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season. They fell into an early 17-point deficit against Oklahoma City’s top-ranked defense, but stormed back for a 10-point overtime victory.
All three of the Lakers’ remaining 2017 draft picks played huge roles in this comeback, led by Kyle Kuzma’s 32-point eruption. The stretch forward has struggled with his 3-point shot this season, but definitely not on Friday when he buried seven of L.A.’s season-high 19 triples.
Lonzo Ball got in on the action as well, racking up 18 points and 10 assists. He was also clutch in OT, winning a jump ball against a power forward before splashing a 27-foot trey to put the Lakers ahead for good.
And Josh Hart refused to ever give up on a play. He had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, but even those stats didn’t capture just how aggressively he crashed the glass.
Lakers take the lead for good on a big-time sequence from Lonzo Ball.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 18, 2019
Beats a 6'9" power forward for the jump ball. Drains the 27-foot triple. pic.twitter.com/zbEqZjY9IR
2) Class of ’16 had a career-night, too
It was a roaring performance from all members of the Lakers’ young collection, as the two third-year players each posted career-highs.
It was Ivica Zubac’s best scoring night, going off for 26 points while still harboring enough energy to grab 12 rebounds (half of them on the offensive glass). Zubac was a fixture at the rim all night long, finding pockets of space to thrive off his teammates’ playmaking.
One of those playmakers was Brandon Ingram, who had a personal-best 11 assists. He only hit one shot all night, but still had the offense in his control by consistently slashing to the cup and kicking out to shooters or in to cutters.
3) The Beard is in monster mode
James Harden has long been a one-man offense, but the reigning MVP has taken his game to historic heights lately.
In 11 games since Chris Paul went down to injury, Harden has averaged a bewildering 43.7 points, 9.0 assists and 8.2 rebounds. When the Rockets suffered another huge blow, losing Clint Capela earlier this week, Harden responded by dropping 50-plus points in back-to-back games.
At 35.4 points per game, Harden currently has a stranglehold on the league’s season scoring title. In fact, he could be the first player to average 35 since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant put up 35.4 points himself in the 2005-06 season — the same year he dropped 81 points in a single game.
The Lakers will test their recent defensive ascension against this MVP candidate, hoping to perform better than they did last month, when Harden hit them with a 50-point triple-double.
Lakers: LeBron James (strained left groin) and Rajon Rondo (right ring finger surgery) are out. Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Rockets: Eric Gordon right knee soreness and James Ennis III (left calf laceration) are probable. Chris Paul (left hamstring strain), Clint Capela (right thumb injury), Brandon Knight (left knee soreness) and Carmelo Anthony (not with team) are out. Danuel House Jr. is on G League assignment.
Tip-Off: 5:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: Toyota Center — Houston, Texas