Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun led the Houston Rockets to an impressive 135-119 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. Green, a rising star since being the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, showcased his evolving skills with a remarkable 34-point performance.
Sengun, not far behind, contributed significantly with 31 points. Their combined efforts were pivotal in the Rockets' dominance throughout the game. Houston maintained a substantial lead for most of the match, at one point leading by 30 points in the second half.
However, the Lakers, displaying resilience, rallied with a 20-5 run, narrowing the gap to just ten points with four minutes remaining. The Rockets quickly responded, reasserting their control and extending their lead once again, thanks in part to Green's crucial scoring.
Green, reflecting on his performance and growth under coach Ime Udoka, remarked, “I'm building on it. That's what he wants from me. That's what I want for myself. Brick by brick, just going to keep learning and keep growing each game”.
Lakers' Comeback Efforts Fall Short
The Lakers, led by LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell, each scoring 23 points, showed glimpses of a potential comeback. This effort came on the heels of their exhilarating 145-144 double-overtime victory over Golden State on Saturday.
Despite their best efforts, the Lakers couldn't sustain their momentum against the Rockets' robust performance. Houston's Cam Whitmore and Jabari Smith Jr. also made significant contributions. Whitmore, coming off the bench, added 20 points, while Smith Jr., returning after a four-game absence due to injury, provided 18 points and nine rebounds.
The game wasn't without its contentious moments. A notable incident occurred when James was struck in the face by Brooks during a tussle for a rebound, leading to James being briefly incapacitated on the court. This play was later reviewed and classified as a flagrant 1 foul.
The Lakers' Jarred Vanderbilt was ejected in the second quarter following a heated exchange with Brooks. This altercation stemmed from an earlier incident where Vanderbilt felt he had been fouled harshly by Brooks. Reflecting on the Lakers' performance, LeBron James expressed disappointment, particularly with the closing minutes of the first quarter.
“We just didn’t get back,” he lamented. “We didn’t have a sense of care factor. We didn’t have no care factor in those last two minutes”. In the end, the Rockets' commanding lead and cohesive team play proved too much for the Lakers, showcasing Houston's potential as a formidable force in the league.