Rockets 139, Lakers 100 - Lou Williams Meh-venge Game

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Coming off one of this biggest wins of the season on Sunday, the Rockets took care of business Wednesday by handling the Los Angeles Lakers in a game that saw ex-Laker Lou Williams find a major groove. It wasn't exactly a revenge game, given how bad the Lakers are, but Lou made sure to show out against his former team.

The Rockets quickly set the tone in this game, scoring at will. James Harden, in particular, got whatever he wanted on the floor. The MVP finalist scored 12 points and dished out eight assists in the opening period. His focus was on finding his teammates (and padding his assist numbers) early on, especially with the goal of getting Clint Capela heavily involved. At the end of first, Capela was well on his way to a double-double with early contributions of nine points and four rebounds, and the Rockets held a 37-26 lead.

The second quarter belonged to Lou Williams, who faced the team that traded him for the first time since February’s trade deadline. Lou scored 17 points in the period (19 for the half) on perfect shooting from the field, including four from beyond the arc.

Similarly, Julius Randle had himself a great first half offensively for the Lakers. He was the only Laker that was causing the Rockets any real problems on the floor, scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Randle also caused the Rockets physical problems as he caught three different players – Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, and Montrezl Harrell – with errant elbows to the face. Capela was subbed out with a headache, Anderson made a trip to the locker room to stop the bleeding, and Harrell was down on the ground while the Rockets played defense a man down. This slowed Houston’s momentum considerably, but the Rockets were able to pick themselves up and maintain a 66-52 lead at halftime.

The Rockets energy – and defense – was nonexistent for the majority of the third period, which allowed the Lakers to cut the lead down to single-digits multiple times. James Harden’s assist hunting carried over from the second period and, unfortunately, so did the turnovers (he had nine by quarter’s end). After a timeout with about five minutes left, the Rockets went on a 7-0 run and righted the ship a little bit. Harden would have his 17th triple-double before the quarter ended, and, following another 7-0 run, the Rockets held a commanding 93-75 lead.

Lou Williams was relatively quiet in the third, but immediately made his presence felt with back-to-back threes to start the final period. Despite the fourth quarter largely being garbage time for the Rockets, Patrick Beverley did his best to make it interesting by drawing offensive fouls and hitting teammates for rim-rattling dunks. Houston coasted, which allowed Harden to rest for the entire period.

Julius Randle and Harden’s assist hunting were the only problems the Rockets faced in this game. Houston played down to the Lakers a little bit, and need to tighten the screws defensively going forward, but beating a team by 39 is a pretty good way to win. Statistically, the Rockets had awesome contributions from Lou Williams (30 points, seven assists), James Harden (18 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds), and Trevor Ariza (20 points), but this was a total team win – and a convincing one at that.

The Rockets look to win its third straight on Friday in New Orleans.

Game Ball

This is a segment of the game recaps that will give the proverbial game ball to a player that proved to be most valuable to the Rockets on a given night. This award won’t necessarily go to the player that puts up the best numbers, but to the player that made the greatest impact on the team – tangible or intangible.

Wednesday’s game ball goes to Lou Williams.

Another Harden triple-double, another game where someone else is actually more deserving of the game ball. That’s just how good this team is. Since making an incredible impact in his Rockets debut, Lou has been kind of ineffective from the field and hasn’t really caught a groove like he did post-trade deadline. On Wednesday, Lou caught fire and hit his first seven attempts from the field, and was instrumental in giving the Rockets a huge lead in the second period.

Houston will need both Lou and Eric Gordon to catch fire at the same time to have significant playoff success, and this was just the kind of game to get that rhythm going.

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