Lakers end Rockets' 14-game win streak

AFP
The Rockets dropped to 25-5 on the season and also lost for the first time with guard Chris Paul in their lineup.
AFP
Reuters

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball drives with the ball as Houston Rockets forward Ryan Anderson (left) and guard Chris Paul defend during the third quarter of their NBA game at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on December 20, 2017. The Lakers won 122-116.

Kyle Kuzma led the offensive charge as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped the red-hot Rockets' 14-game winning streak with a 122-116 upset victory in Houston on Wednesday.

Kuzma scored a NBA career-high 38 points as the Lakers dominated the Rockets early then held on through a mid-game Houston rally to claim the win and end their own three-game losing skid.

"I scored 30 in the summer league," Kuzma said. "This is a better team but the same mentality. I've got the same mentality every time I step on the court, play my hardest and just be locked in." 

The loss spoiled a 51-point scoring performance by Rockets star James Harden, who also added 9 assists.

The Rockets dropped to 25-5 on the season and also lost for the first time with guard Chris Paul in their lineup.

Paul departed early in the fourth quarter with a sore left leg and did not return after scoring 8 points in 25 minutes. 

The Lakers improved to 11-18 on the season with Kuzma scoring 24 of his 38 points in the first half on nine-of-nine shooting.

Los Angeles shot 47.1 percent overall and, after entering the game dead last in the National Basketball Association in 3-point percentage, nailed 15 of 35 attempts from beyond the arc to keep the Rockets in check.

The Lakers played without starters Brook Lopez (ankle) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (personal reasons).

Kuzma got plenty of offensive help as a half dozen Lakers finished in double-digit scoring, including reserve forward Corey Brewer who had a season-high 21 points.

Brewer was shipped by the Rockets to Los Angeles at the trading deadline last February.

Brewer sparked the decisive run with a nifty layup at the 7:04 mark of the fourth quarter to break a 100-100 tie.

The Lakers stretched that lead to 10 points before the Rockets could muster a reply that fell short.

Rookie guard Lonzo Ball added 16 points and 9 rebounds while Larry Nance and Brandon Ingram scored 13 apiece for the Lakers.

In other NBA games on Wednesday, it was: Heat 90, Celtics 89; Warriors 97, Grizzlies 84; Bulls 112, Magic 94; Spurs 93, Trail Blazers 91; Timberwolves 112, Nuggets 104; Thunder 107, Jazz 79; Raptors 129, Hornets 111; Pacers 105, Hawks 95; Kings 104, Nets 99; Mavericks 110, Pistons 93; and Clippers 108, Suns 94.

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