The second half wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was a very stark contrast from the first half, where the Lakers couldn’t miss from deep. The turnovers were plentiful, the missed shots were abundant, and the lead became non-existent.
But Steve Blake made Lakers fans forget it all.
After allowing a 19-point lead disappear, the Lakers were left to hang on by any means possible in the second half, and particularly the fourth quarter. They resorted to Hack-A-Dwight, they tried nearly every line-up possible, and they featured Jodie Meeks and Wes Johnson prominently late. Yet none of that mattered after Blake’s three-pointer just over 1 second remaining gave the Lakers the final lead of the game. The Rockets last-ditch three pointer fell short and the Lakers walked out of Houston with their first road win of the season.
The Lakers looked to be running away early in the game as they were shooting lights out from three. In fact, they made 11 of their 14 threes in the first half and carried a 64-40 point lead into half. But the Rockets outscored the Lakers by 10 in the 3rd and had a seven point lead with 2:05 left. But Hack-A-Howard worked, and a Jodie Meeks three cut the lead to two with a minute remaining. Howard missed two more free throws with 53 second remaining, Harden couldn’t stretch the lead in the waning seconds, and the stage was set for Blake’s dramatics.
Meeks led the Lakers in scoring on the night, pouring in 18 points on five three pointers. Wes Johnson added 16 of his own off the bench in 28 minutes, easily his best performance of the young season. 54 of the Lakers 99 points of the night came from the bench, while Blake and Steve Nash anchored the starters with 26 points. Chris Kaman responded to his placement in the starting lineup with 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Despite still feeling the affects of a respiratory illness, Pau Gasol grabbed 12 rebounds of his own as the Lakers out-rebounded the Rockets 47-44 on the night.
James Harden paced the Rockets on the night, finishing with 35 points on 9 for 24 shooting from the field, but finished 14 for 16 from the line. Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons each figured 16 points, while Dwight Howard finished with 15. However, Howard’s 5 of 16 performance from the line kept the Lakers in the game late. During Hack-A-Howard, Howard shot just 5 of 10 from the line. Add in the two misses with under one minute remaining and you have 41.6% shooting from the line in the fourth.
The Lakers couldn’t have come out hotter to start the game, making 12 of their first 15 threes overall. However, they finished the game shooting 4 of 20, struggling all the way to the final buzzer.
But the last one went in. And for tonight, that’s all that matters.