LOS ANGELES — On a night that saw Steve Nash pass Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson for third on the NBA’s all-time assists list, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to their fifth-straight loss in a 145-130 blowout at the hands of the Houston Rockets led by James Harden’s double-double.
After holding the lead throughout the first two quarters of play and a 66-61 advantage at the halftime, the Rockets blew the gates open in the third quarter as they used a 35-10 run to expand the margin to a game-high 25 points at 101-76. Harden and Terrence Jones led the charge as they combined to score 28 of Houston’s 49 points with the team shooting 75 percent (18-of-24) in the quarter.
It was the same story in the fourth quarter as the Rockets maintained a double-digit lead over the Lakers for the entire quarter. The win for Houston was an all-around offensive performance as they scored a season-high 145 points, 80 points in the paint, and shot 58 percent for the game. As for the Rockets’ duo, they did not play in the final quarter as Harden finished with 33 points and 12 assists, and Jones scored 33 points with 8 rebounds
“Obviously we couldn’t stop anybody,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said of the second half. “James Harden just carved us up (by) either his threes or layups. He just played really well and is really good. We (just) did not have an answer for him.”
As for Nash in his historic night, he revealed after the game that he played through most of the first half with nerve irritation in his left hamstring but was also honored to be among the top three players in assists in NBA history as he only trails Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (15,806).
“I hurt it early when I tried to pick up to a sprint,” Nash said who had three points and five assists in 13 minutes played in the first half. “It just caught me and I felt that right in the hamstring and the pain just began. I just wanted to hang on and get this over with.”
“It’s incredible to be sharing that part of the assist ladder with some players I really looked up to and tried to emulate. It’s a fantastic feeling to be in that rare air., and I owe a lot of all the teammates and coaches that helped me get there.”
The 40-year-old will see how his body reacts to the pain over the next few days to truly gauge whether he is done playing for the season.
“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I could feel great tomorrow and recovery but that is typically know about the way it went down tonight. It’s probably not something that is going to happen in the (next) two or three days, but we’ll see maybe with a bit of luck it will.”
The defensive struggles overshadowed the Lakers strong offensive output as they scored 130 points on 46 percent shooting with two 30-plus outputs from Nick Young‘s 32 points and Jodie Meeks‘ 30. Los Angeles also had six players in double figures and scored 38 fast break points for the game, but all that was put to the wayside in the loss.
They picked it up (in the second half),” Young said, who had his third 30-plus point outings this season in the defeat. “They started playing like a playoff team. We can’t look at the games because we still have a few games to play.”
Also lost in the shuffle was the return of Jordan Farmar after missing the last 10 games due to a right groin injury as he scored 15 points with 8 assists in 27 minutes played in the loss.
“I feel good, no setbacks or nothing to worry about,” Farmar said of his health following the game. “I am just disappointed in our performance but other than that physically I feel fine.”
After Los Angeles scored the first points of the game, Houston responded with a 16-4 run to lead 16-6 and held as much as a 12-point advantage in the quarter. The Rockets received double-digit outputs in the opening quarter from Jones with 12 points and Harden with 11.
In the second quarter, the Lakers closed the margin to as little as one point, due in large part to Meeks as he scored 14 of his 16 first half points. This included a dunk in transition by Meeks that moved Nash past Jackson for third all-time in assists at 2:13 mark in the quarter.
But the Rockets held on to their lead despite Los Angeles’ strong push as they shot 52 percent for the quarter that included Jones’ continued hot shooting as he scored 11 of 23 first half points.
Tuesday’s loss for the Lakers equals the franchise’s most losses (53) in a season since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. With another defeat in the final four games of the season, the Lakers will surpass the 19-53 record set in the 1957-58 season.
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