Lakers shoot down reeling Rockets
LOS ANGELES, USA – LeBron James scored 31 points and handed out 12 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied for a 124-115 NBA victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday, January 18 (Sunday, January 19, Philippine time).
Los Angeles outscored the Rockets, 32-17, in the 3rd quarter to turn around the game, rebounding from a Wednesday loss to the Orlando Magic that snapped the Western Conference-leading Lakers' nine-game winning streak.
"We want to continue to get better," James said. "We want to stay on an even keel throughout the season, it's an 82-game season, and we did that.
"We had a chance to reshape, refocus and start the second half of the season the right way, and we did that."
Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points, and Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in 20 points apiece for Los Angeles, the West leader with a 34-8 record.
Russell Westbrook scored 35 points and James Harden had 34 for the Rockets, who dropped their third straight for a 26-15 slate.
The Rockets looked determined to turn their fortunes around in an energetic 1st quarter, and they led 65-59 at halftime.
But the Lakers responded after the break, pushing their lead to as many as 16 early in the 4th quarter.
Raptros, Suns shine
The reigning champion Toronto Raptors edged into 3rd place in the East – 9 games adrift at 28-14 – with a 122-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves while the Boston Celtics slipped back to 4th with a 123-119 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Toronto's Fred VanVleet scored 29 points in his return from injury and Kyle Lowry added 28 points for the Raptors, who have won 3 straight.
Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins posted the first triple-double of his career with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in defeat.
Phoenix guard Devin Booker fell just shy of a triple-double with 39 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists as the Suns withstood a Celtics-record 11 three-pointers by Marcus Smart.
Deandre Ayton scored 26 points with 15 rebounds and Mikal Bridges added 26 points for the suddenly surging Suns, who have won 4 of their last 5.
Smart who made half of his 22 three-point attempts, finished with a career-high 37 points.