The Rockets were outplayed in the first quarter, outscored in the second quarter and over the course of the game, the Lakers probably outplayed the Rockets. But for one quarter, the Rockets dominated and that was enough to easily push past the Lakers, 113-99. They outscored the Lakers 33-15 in the third quarter, led for a third consecutive game by a white-hot James Harden.
Harden scored 17 of his season-high tying 38 points in the third quarter, as the Rockets were in the midst of a 42-15 run to grab a 20-point lead and coast to victory. Harden has now scored at least 37 points in three consecutive games. He’s the first Rockets player to do that since Hakeem Olajuwon did it during the 1994-1995 season.
“In the third quarter I was just trying to play defense and get out of the way on offense,” Jeremy Lin said. “He just carried us. I’ve seen him do this, maybe not that many times in a row. The shots that he’s hitting are really tough. I think he’s doing a great job reading the defense, maybe that is the biggest thing for him, maybe a step (forward) from last year. He can do it all.”
Getting hot in the third quarter is nothing new for Harden. During this three-game stretch, he scored at least 16 points in all three games. His outburst came on 7-of-10 shooting after hitting 5-of-10 in the entire first half.
“I’m just being aggressive,” Harden said. “My feet have been feeling better. My three ball is feeling good. (I’m) just staying in attack mode.”
Harden also had five steals, something he said he liked more than the 38 points. “The steals got me the points. If we play defense our offense is going to be more effective,” Harden said.
The Lakers had a five-point halftime lead after shooting 22-of-48 from the field (45.8 percent) and committing just eight turnovers. In the second half as the Rockets picked up the intensity on defense, the Lakers made just 14-of-40 shots (35 percent) and had 10 turnovers, which the Rockets turned into 15 points.