The Rockets opened the 2014-15 season with a 108-90 win over the Lakers behind an offensive showcase from James Harden.
The Rockets opened the game by getting the ball to Dwight Howard early and often. Howard took on routine triple teams on his way to 10 first half points, but it was the tone he set on defense that got Houston off on the right foot.
The Rockets smothered the Lakers early, highlighted by Howard and Terrence Jones coming together for a tag team block on Jeremy Lin. Even when Howard got into early foul trouble, the Rockets didn’t slow down as Jones kept up the intensity in his absence.
Jones was active on both ends in the first half notching a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) and pacing the Rockets as they built an 18-point lead thanks to 14 second-chance points.
Meanwhile, James Harden put up 22 points with three 3-pointers and a perfect 9/9 FT as the Rockets led by 17 at halftime.
The Rockets started the second half sluggishly. In the first three minutes, they racked up four fouls and five turnovers (compared to only three total turnovers in the first half).
To make matters worse, Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul in less than a minute and sat the rest of the third as the Lakers cut the Rockets lead to single digits.
However, Trevor Ariza knocked down his 4th and 5th 3-pointer of the game to slow L.A.’s momentum. After the initial struggles, the Rockets rebounded and L.A. only cut 1-point off their halftime deficit.
The Rockets continued to hit 3-pointers in the 4th (over 50% for the game) as they continued to pull away amid some excitement surrounding Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant exchanging words as the Rockets’ lead hit 25.
The bickering was soon forgotten as Lakers’ rookie Julius Randle went down and had to be carried off on a stretcher with a reported broken leg.
Harden would finish with a game-high 32 points to go with six assists. Terrence Jones stuffed the stat sheet with 16pts/13reb/3ast/2blk and Dwight Howard had another good night at Staples Center with 13pts/11reb. Trevor Ariza (16pts 5-8 from three) and Jason Terry (8pts) made successful debuts for the Rockets.
The Rockets head to Utah for a back-to-back with the Jazz tomorrow night.