Without LeBron the Houston Rockets shoot the L.A. Lakers out of the gym

Harley Kock
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Friday, August 7, 2020

L.A. Lakers 97-113 Houston Rockets

Orlando, FL - The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets 113-97 as LeBron James (sore groin), Alex Caruso (sore neck) and JaVale McGee (DNP-Coach’s Decision) all were out for the game.

McGee was not listed on the injury report prior to the game or mentioned as an absence by head coach Frank Vogel, but was replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Kuzma as the Lakers went small, and did not play a single minute in the game.

Despite McGee’s absence, and with Quinn Cook replacing James alongside Kuzma, Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green, the Lakers didn’t really get any of the benefits traditionally associated with going small. The Rockets’ destroyed them from distance shooting 21-57 from three compared to the Lakers’ 2-19, outran them in transition repeatedly, and never let it feel like L.A. was seriously threatening to win.

The Lakers stayed close, only trailing by nine points at halftime and cutting the lead to as little as five points at one moment in the fourth before the Rockets responded with a 14-2 run.

This was a game against not just the Rockets, but math itself, and one the Lakers couldn’t win, especially not with the inconsistent effort they played with tonight.

There weren’t many positives in this one, but credit to Kuzma, who continued his status as the only Lakers to play better in the bubble than before heading to Disney World for the restart. He finished the night with 21 points on 8-16 shooting and 5 rebounds, and deserves credit for continuing to bring it on both ends even if not all of his teammates are joining him in that level of effort. 

Rookie guard Talen Horton-Tucker also got some run in this one, and while he continues to look raw, he definitely showed some of his promise on offense, scoring 10 points on 4-6 shooting in 19 minutes, which is good experience for the 19-year-old at least.

The other good news is that despite this being the Lakers’ second loss in a row, it doesn’t really mean anything. This team still has the No. 1 seed locked up, was missing their MVP, and has clearly not been fully locked in since winning their first game against the Clippers. That may matter at some point, but that day is not today.

Next Up, The Lakers will get their second chance to bounce back when they take on the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, Aug 8th, at 6pm Eastern.