August 2, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Lakers game begins with shoves, ends with rout of Rockets

Houston center Christian Wood had circled Sunday on his calendar, a chance to compete against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers to see how he and his team measured up.

The truth hurts.

LeBron James saw Wood and drove through the slender, 6-foot-10 big man without a moment of hesitation, flexing his arms and beating his chest after scoring an easy two. Davis hit his first nine shots as he dominated both ends of the court. And the Lakers’ defense, which Davis called out after a loss to San Antonio, swarmed everywhere, fueling fastbreaks and leaving the Rockets frustrated in the wake.

The 120-102 win in Houston on Sunday was the Lakers at their best, forcing turnovers, dictating tempo and corralling James Harden, one of the NBA’s best scorers.

The lone hiccup came early in the first half when Markieff Morris got ejected after a scuffle with DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins, not to be outdone, got ejected minutes later after winding up and swinging down on James as he drove the lane

The Lakers had seven steals and seven blocked shots in the first quarter, turning defense into offense in “Showtime” fashion.

Davis ran the court and made the most of those opportunities, finishing with 27 points to go with three blocks. James had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Lakers bench had three players combine for 46 points, with Talen Horton-Tucker scoring 17, Montrezl Harrell finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Kyle Kuzma adding 13 points.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned to the Lakers lineup, his energy in transition setting the tone for the offense early. Wesley Matthews, who started in Caldwell-Pope’s place against the Chicago Bulls on Friday didn’t play because of a sore Achilles tendon.

The Lakers play in Houston again on Tuesday.