Things did not start off well for the Rockets, as they went down 36-19 after the first quarter. They were still down 14 points at the end of the first half, but they were able to make a big comeback in the second half, even taking the lead late in the fourth quarter.
However, with just over one second remaining in the game, Steve Blake was able to make the game-winning three-point jumper, going up 99-98. The Rockets were unable to get a good shot off at the very end, and the Lakers came away with the win.
|Lakers vs. Rockets Box Score|
It wasn't a spectacular game for Howard, but it wasn't terrible either. He finished with 15 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the field, along with 14 rebounds, two assists and a block.
Howard was aggressive throughout the game, taking plenty of shots in the paint and drawing fouls. He attempted 16 free throws, but he only made five of them. He had four critical free-throw shots late in the game, but he only made one, which was extremely costly down the stretch.
James Harden was the player of the game, even though his team lost. He finished with 35 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. He went 14-of-16 from the line, although he did only shoot 9-of-24 from the field.
As a team, the Rockets weren't able to get a lot of good shots off. They shot just 37.7 percent from the field and only 25.9 percent from behind the arc. What they did do well, however, was draw fouls.
The Rockets drew 36 personal fouls in this game. In fact, every single player who went in for the Lakers had at least three fouls, which appeared to be a good sign. Howard was the main aggressor in drawing those fouls, but it didn't pay off with his struggles from the charity stripe.
It's been a pretty successful season so far for Howard and the Rockets, even with the loss. They're currently 4-2 with their only losses coming against the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. For Howard, he's sitting at 17.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while making 54.7 percent of his shots.
However, teams are going to keep aggressively fouling Howard until he can make his free throws. He's only making 50 percent of his free throws, and while that's a slight improvement from the previous two seasons, it's still not an acceptable mark.
Howard is going to stay aggressive and play the way he wants, and while that will likely translate into wins with the Rockets, it wasn't enough to take down his old team.