Parsons: 'It's a terrible loss'
Chandler Parsons had no trouble describing what happened Thursday night at Toyota Center as the Houston Rockets lost 99-98 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's a terrible loss to a team we should beat," Parsons said. "Especially on our home floor. In the western conference, it's gonna be thick and we're playing for seeding. We want to be a number one seed. A loss like this is something that's going to haunt us."
There was no shortage of attention on the first game of the season between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers, since it would be the first time Dwight Howard faced his former team since leaving via free agency in the offseason.
The Rockets, they came out of the gates, sluggish and found themselves trailing by 11 after barely five minutes had been played. They were down 17 points after the first period.
"We can't get down that much," Parsons said. "It's hard to come back from that deficit. We put ourselves in a situation to lose that game. They deserved to win it. Mental mistakes killed us all night long."
It took until just under four minutes remained before the Rockets reclaimed a lead they held only briefly at the beginning of the game.
Parsons threw down a slam off a pass from Harden to put the Rockets on top, 93-91. The only points the team would score after that would be on free throws from Howard. He was intentionally fouled by the Lakers six times, resulting in just five points as Howard made just five of 12 free throw attempts.
But the Rockets lamented their performance at the start of the game, more than anything else.
"We fought hard in the second half, played much better defense," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "Our defense in the first half was terrible."
It certainly was. Just about any Laker out there was getting wide open looks from behind the 3-point line and they were making their shots. They made 6-of-9 in the first quarter and then all five of their 3-point attempts in the second quarter.
At one point they made eight consecutive 3-pointers and not until the second half did that change.
They held the Lakers to just 4-of-20 from behind the 3-point line, up until the final four seconds.
That was when the Lakers made the last of their 16 3-pointers and this one from Steve Blake, who was 4-of-6 from downtown, was the game-winner. Blake was able to set his feet and get a great look at the basket.
It was their defense on that last play, as well, that had the Rockets shaking their head.
"That last play had to have been a miscommunication on some guy's part," Parsons said. "That's clearly not what we are trying or wanted to do."
"We said we're going to switch everything out. We had a mistake and we didn't get out and Blake hit a big three," McHale said. "We switched late on it and we were switching one through five at that point."
Despite the terrible start and the free throw shooting issues, the Rockets still got the lead late and pushed it out to six points with just 2:40 remaining.
The Lakers had one more big shot in them and it handed the Rockets their second loss of the season.
"We had a lead down the stretch, we've got to be able to close those out," McHale said.