Freefalling Lakers fall to Rockets in overtime

HOUSTON — Rookie Jalen Green scored a career-high 32 points, including 10 in overtime, and the Houston Rockets outlasted the plummeting Los Angeles Lakers for a 139-130 win Wednesday night.

“It was so fun and exciting and awesome for a packed house to see us play like that,” coach Stephen Silas said. “And also great for our team to respond to adversity, get down and come back to fight.”

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

“We have a very small margin of error this season and the teams are charging us,” James said.

The loss is the ninth straight for the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games and are running out of time to put things in place before the start of the playoffs.

“It’s hard to lose when you’re putting everything into it and trying to get traction for this group,” coach Frank Vogel said. “But we have determination and it’s a difficult period that we have to go through.”

LeBron James rolls over Eric Gordon in the Lakers 139-130 overtime loss to the Lakers.
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Green, the second pick in the draft, opened overtime with a layup before adding a 3-pointer and then hooking a shot shortly after to make it 127-120. Eric Gordon added a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10 before the Lakers finally scored in the extra period on a Westbrook field goal with 2 1/2 minutes left.

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 in OT and seal the victory.

“We had too many defensive breakdowns throughout the game,” Vogel said. “Our guys fought hard but it 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 was super big tonight.

Jalen Green of the Rockets, who scored a career-high 32 points, celebrates after scoring 3 points in OT.
Jalen Green of the Rockets, who scored a career-high 32 points, celebrates after scoring 3 points in OT.
Getty Images

James had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season. But his career-long 25-point streak ended at 23 games on a night when he was 9 of 26 overall and only made 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

“I’ve missed a lot of shots that I know I’m capable of, that I’ve made throughout the season and my career,” he said. “The shots just weren’t falling for me tonight.”

It was his first game since scoring a season-high 56 points Saturday night after sitting out Monday at San Antonio with left knee pain.

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

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

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

A jump shot from Westbrook tied the score at 120 with a minute remaining, but he missed a shot seconds later to pass the ball back to Houston.

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

James missed a lopsided shot down the lane with 17 seconds left, but officials ruled Houston had knocked the ball out of bounds while battling for the rebound. The Rockets disputed the appeal, but it was upheld.

James drove into the lane and gave Carmelo Anthony in the corner for the final stroke of regulation, but his 3-point attempt failed to send him to OT.

A 5-2 push by the Rockets in the fourth tied the game, but James drove into the lane and finished with a monstrous one-handed dunk to put the Lakers up 113-111 with 5½ minutes to go.

Los Angeles trailed by 1 with about three minutes left when James made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 118-116.

Green scored four quick points to give the Rockets a 120-118 lead with about two minutes left. He made two free throws, then grabbed a rebound on the other end and finished with a jumper to put Houston ahead.

New York Post

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