The Lakers, the NBA’s worst first quarter team through the first seven games, were no better on Wednesday, another poor start leading to another road loss, this time to the Lakers Houston Rockets128-94.
Houston led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter – the sixth time the Lakers trailed by at least 10 points in the first 12 minutes. The Lakers outscored 74 points in the first quarter, a number that created mountains the Lakers couldn’t climb consistently.
No player on the roster has a positive plus/minus rating in the first quarter.
The debacle in Houston came after the Lakers reversed the trend in Miami on Monday, opening the game by matching the Heat’s strength, focus and functionality.
Asked early Wednesday whether he thought the Lakers had found the level they needed to open games, LeBron James said it was too early to say the page had been turned.
“Yeah, but I mean, that’s the game. “So what do we do next?” he said at shootaround on Wednesday. “That’s what this game is. Like I said, after the game you have to compete against each other [Miami], you have to play tough or they will embarrass you. How can we achieve that or bring that energy or intensity into the next remaining away games on this trip?”
It turns out that when the Lakers didn’t play Houston, the Rockets were happy to take advantage of the opportunity to embarrass them.
Perhaps they were disappointed with the news that Davis wouldn’t be able to play, as his hip injury caused him so much trouble after Monday’s loss that the Lakers ruled him out just before Wednesday’s game. Without Davis and Jaxson Hayes, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury, the Lakers’ frontcourt was once again thin.
Rui Hachimura, who missed the last four games, returned from a concussion and scored 24 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Beyond shooting, he was one of the few Lakers who moved without the ball and scored easy baskets by cutting and rolling hard to the rim.
D’Angelo Russell scored 22 points and LeBron James 18 points, but the Lakers’ poor shooting and indifferent defense kept Wednesday’s game from being competitive.
Jalen Green scored 28 points, Alperen Sengun 19 and the Rockets outscored the Lakers 24-3 on offense. Houston shot 54.8% from the field and 42.4% from three.
The Lakers (3-5) begin the new season tournament on Friday in Phoenix against the Suns, who brought Bradley Beal onto the court for the first time on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.