Sport

Free-falling Lakers fall on Rockets in overtime

HOUSTON — Rookie Jalen Green posted a career-high 32 points, including 10 in overtime, and the Houston Rockets survived the collapsing Los Angeles Lakers with a 139-130 win Wednesday night.

“It was so much fun and exciting and great for a full house to see us play like this,” said coach Stephen Silas. “And also great for our team to react to the adversity, come down and come back fighting.”

The Rockets, who have the worst record in the Western Conference, withstood a triple-double from LeBron James and 30 points from Russell Westbrook to earn just their second win in 15 games.

“We have a really small margin of error this season and teams are making us pay for it,” James said.

The loss is the ninth straight for the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games and have no time to pull themselves together before the start of the playoffs.

“It’s hard to lose when you put everything into it and try to gain a foothold for this group,” said coach Frank Vogel. “But we have determination and it’s a tough stretch to fight through.”

LeBron James rides on Eric Gordon during the Lakers' 139-130 overtime loss to the Lakers.
LeBron James rides on Eric Gordon during the Lakers’ 139-130 overtime loss to the Lakers.
Getty Images

Green, the second overall pick in the draft, opened overtime with a layup before adding a 3-pointer and hookshot shortly after to put it at 127-120. Eric Gordon added a 3-pointer to take the lead to 10 before the Lakers scored a basket from Westbrook with 2 1/2 minutes left in overtime.

But the Rockets used a 6-3 run with 3s from Kenyon Martin Jr. and Green around a 3 from James to extend the lead to 136-125 with a minute left OT to seal the win.

“We had too many defensive breakdowns throughout the game,” Vogel said. “Our boys fought, but it just wasn’t enough.”

Green was asked about his big night.

“It felt good,” he said. “They kept feeding me. Told me to keep attacking until they stop me. So that’s what I did. The basket felt super big tonight.”

Rockets' Jalen Green, who posted a career-high 32 points, celebrates after scoring a 3-pointer in OT.
Rockets’ Jalen Green, who posted a career-high 32 points, celebrates after scoring a 3-pointer in OT.
Getty Images

James had 23 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high 12 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season. But his career-long streak of consecutive 25-point games ended with 23 games on a night where he finished 9-of-26 overall and only managed 1-of-9 3-pointers.

“I’ve missed a lot of shots that I know I can do that I’ve taken throughout the season and my career,” he said. “There were just no shots fired for me tonight.”

It was his first game since he posted a season-high 56 points on Saturday night after sitting out Monday in San Antonio with a sore left knee.

Rookie Alperen Sengun set career bests with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and fellow rookie Josh Christopher added 21 points from the bench to help the Rockets win.

Silas spoke about the growth of Green and Christopher, who are 20, and 19-year-old Sengun after their performances on Wednesday night.

“That means a lot,” he said. “That means they learn the importance of work and stick to it, fight their way through tough times and find success at the end of the rainbow when the lights are brightest.”

A jump shot from Westbrook took it to 120 with a minute left, but he missed a shot a few seconds later to hand the ball back to Houston.

Green missed a layup under heavy pressure from James to give the Lakers another shot to take the lead.

James missed an off-balance shot with 17 seconds left, but officials decided Houston threw the ball wide while struggling for the rebound. The Rockets questioned the call, but it was confirmed.

Driving up the lane, James hit Carmelo Anthony in the corner for regulation’s final shot, but his 3-point try was wide to send it to OT.

A 5-2 sprint by the Rockets in the fourth round ended the match, but James drove to the lane and finished it off with a monster one-handed dunk to put the Lakers 113-111 with 5 ½ minutes to go.

Los Angeles was down 1 with about three minutes to go when James took one of two free throws to make it 118-116.

Green scored four quick points to give the Rockets a 120-118 lead with about two minutes remaining. He made two free throws and then grabbed a rebound at the other end and finished with a jump to put Houston in front.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/10/free-falling-lakers-fall-to-rockets-in-overtime/ Free-falling Lakers fall on Rockets in overtime

JOE HERNANDEZ

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