The Los Angeles Lakers were without Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill on Tuesday, and Kobe Bryant had six points at halftime. So it shouldn't be any surprise that the Houston Rockets defeated them, 125-112, pushing the Lakers further down the rabbit hole.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Rockets unleashed their fast-paced offense in the third quarter, scoring an incredible 38 points on a combination of James Harden drives and Jeremy Lin three-pointers.
Harden finished with 31 points. It was his 13th straight game with at least 25 points. And, in the lone Laker highlight of the night, Steve Nash recorded the 10,000th assist of his Hall of Fame career with a beautiful pick-and-roll dish to Antawn Jamison near the end of the first half.
With all the injuries to Los Angeles frontcourt, Steve Nash's scoring responsibility increased. He began the game with a beautiful screen-and-roll pass to Robert Sacre that went between Omer Asik's legs, then continued on to show flashes of his old brilliant self. He scored 16 points and registered 10 assists.
It was a slow start for Lin, who exited the game after just 4:29 of playing time and one badly missed three-pointer. But late in the game, after crossing over Metta World Peace, Lin delivered the ultimate dagger on a beautiful and-one drive to the basket.
He finished with 19 points but had seven turnovers.
As expected, Morris' impact was minimal. Due to the various frontcourt injuries, he was thrust into a position he wasn't ready for (defending James Harden) and struggled heavily. In 17 minutes Morris had 12 points, with several of them coming in the final minute of garbage time, after things were ultimately decided.
It was a rough start for Harden, who finished the first quarter missing five of his eight shots but registered four assists (about one short of his season average). He picked it up as the game went on, though, getting to the rim at will in the second half and living at the free-throw line.
Harden scored 31 points and tallied nine assists. He was incredibly efficient, going 11-of-19 from the floor.
Kobe did a fantastic job facilitating the Lakers offense throughout the first half, not forcing shots and actively looking for passing lanes on drives to the basket. (At one point early in the third quarter, Bryant had seven shot attempts to Robert Sacre's 10.)
He's scored at least 27 points in his previous 17 games, but Bryant didn't score his first 10 points until there was five minutes left in the third quarter. He finished with 20 points on 22 shots, seven assists and five turnovers.
Parsons did as great a job defending Kobe Bryant as most human beings can (he's one of the best perimeter defenders in the league), and offensively he was more active than normal, initiating pick-and-rolls and knocking down spot-up jumpers.
Parsons finished with 20 points on 13 shots in 43 minutes.
Metta World Peace
World Peace lucked out with his matchup against the equally undersized power forward Marcus Morris. He knocked down his first two three-pointers, scoring eight points in just four minutes of play, and watched the production continue for the next three quarters.
He led his team in scoring with 24 points on 14 shots and 29 minutes. Safe to say this was his best game of the season.
Aside from finishing with a pretty and-one late in the game, Morris struggled defending World Peace and couldn't seem to knock down any shots from the outside. He finished with nine points in less than 20 minutes.
He showed great energy early on, finishing on dump-offs and keeping possessions alive on the offensive glass. That then turned into Sacre knocking down a pair of jump shots. His energy was higher than what we've seen from Dwight Howard all season, but for the most part, he played to expectations by going 4-of-10 from the floor.
Asik was quiet, scoring two points in 22 minutes and grabbing just five rebounds. When Houston's pace picks up, it's very difficult for Asik to stay on the court.
Meeks let the world know that he had a green light, firing the ball up every time he caught it behind the three-point line. He also finished on an impressive drive at the basket, converting on a rare and-one.
He finished with 12 points and attempted seven three-pointers (converting three).
Douglas was first subbed into the game just five minutes into the first quarter and he did a great job settling the team down.
He scored 11 points on nine shots.
Earl Clark came in and gave the Lakers a combination of something they haven't had all year: youth and athleticism. He finished with five points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.
Antawn Jamison was hit-or-miss with his outside shot, and Chris Duhon failed to look like a capable professional.
Greg Smith came in and immediately made a difference, catching a loose ball that was knocked from a driving James Harden and turning it into an and-one opportunity.
Carlos Delfino had success nearly every time he launched a three-pointer and struggled doing everything else. He finished with 19 points and was 5-of-7 on threes.