Many bemoaned the fact that Lakers-Rockets was one of Wednesday evening's national TV games. The best team—record-wise—in the NBA playing the Baby Lakers didn't sound like it would make compelling television.
Yet the two teams played a fantastically tight game in which Houston point guard James Harden dropped 51 points, L.A. small forward Corey Brewer—yes that Corey Brewer—dropped 21 points in 25 minutes and Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma stole the show with 38 points and 9 for 9 shooting in the first half to lead L.A. to a 122-116 win that ended Houston's 14-game winning streak.
Kuzma, who is averaging 16.6 points and scored 25 against Golden State on Dec. 18 and 20 against the Cavaliers on Dec. 14 isn't afraid of the best teams or the big moments and he proved it Wednesday with a career line of that included seven rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes of play.
He wasn't the only Laker to have a big night, as Brewer made the most out of his minutes with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting, five rebounds and a game-leading box plus/minus of 18. Lonzo Ball poured in 16 points and nine rebounds while the next most productive L.A. player was Larry Nance Jr. with 13 points and nine boards.
As for the Rockets, they needed all of Harden's 51 points to keep things close. Chris Paul had one of his worst games with the Rockets, recording eight points on 2 for 7 shooting along with five assists and three turnovers for a BPM of -16 before leaving in the fourth quarter with an adductor strain. Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza tried to pick up the slack with 21 and 18 points, respectively, but it was a night to forget for most of the Houston players, as P.J. Tucker was the only other Houston player who scored in double digits (10).
Houston was bound to drop a game after not losing since Nov. 14 and Paul isn't likely to have a game like this for awhile—depending on the severity of his injury—but L.A. (11-18) certainly showed that the Rockets (25-5) are vulnerable on the right night.