We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 107-105 loss to the Rockets:
Fourth quarter points scored by the Rockets (34) and and Magic (40) in the past two losses. Mike D’Antoni blamed defensive breakdowns on weakside rotations after Dwight Howard rightly tried to stop the ball, while the increased points are also due in part to increased possessions with the Hack-a-Howard strategy that both opponents utilized.
Houston bench points, led by 22 from Toney Douglas – who played in crunch time over Jeremy Lin – and perhaps more importantly an unexpected career-high 21 from Greg Smith … not to mention Carlos Delfino’s 15. Douglas hit a corner three to give the Rockets their first lead, which didn’t come until 2:38 remained, while Smith scored eight points in the final 3:19 minutes.
In a stat that really plagued the Lakers, the number of offensive rebounds for Houston, nearly half of their 50 total boards on the night. That led to 29 second-chance points for the home team, and hurt the Lakers especially in the fourth quarter, even in the final minute, when James Harden snuck along the baseline to grab a Douglas miss to earn Greg Smith two free throws (both makes) at the 15.7 mark to put Houston up four.
Turnovers for the Lakers, who lead the NBA in that category, posting nearly 17 per game. Mike D’Antoni said turnovers were certainly a problem on this occasion, primarily because many were unforced. It’s something that’s hurt the Lakers, as they continue to tinker with line ups through injuries and new players.
Points for Antawn Jamison in his first start as a Laker, replacing Pau Gasol, who sat with knee tendinitis. Jamison added nine rebounds and hit three triples with three blocks, but much of his production came in the first half.
More points Kobe Bryant needs to reach 30,000 for his career, thanks to 39 against the Rockets on 14 of 31 shooting. He will join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to reach that illustrious mark.
Win in the eight games Bryant has scored at least 30 points this season. They’re 7-3 when he doesn’t hit that mark, and 5-1 when he posts at least six assists. One conclusion to be drawn is that the Lakers absolutely need him to be a playmaker while top two point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake continue to be out with injuries, but that it’s Bryant’s instinct to score. He shouldn’t be blamed for that, as it’s what’s made him who he is, but it does appear to be the case that the current healthy roster needs him to facilitate.