Lakers ground Rockets again, sixers slip past Heat in OT
January 13 2021 09:30 PM
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (right) shoots the ball against Houston Rockets guard John Wall during the second quarter of their NBA game at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, USA. (USA TODAY Sports)

AFP/Los Angeles

LeBron James scored 22 of his game-high 26 points in the first half and the Los Angeles Lakers posted their second runaway victory over the Houston Rockets in as many games, rolling to a 117-100 victory on Tuesday at Toyota Center in Houston.
The Lakers, who led by as many as 27 points in their 120-102 win on Sunday, matched that advantage on a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer at the 3:35 mark of the second quarter. 
The Lakers led wire to wire while remaining perfect on the road, combining stingy defense with blistering perimeter shooting in the first quarter to build a 35-14 lead entering the second.
James made 4 of 9 3-pointers and added eight rebounds and five assists. Five other Lakers joined James in double figures, with Anthony Davis posting 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in just 29 minutes. The starting backcourt of Dennis Schroeder and Caldwell-Pope combined for 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting with six rebounds and four steals.
Christian Wood paired 18 points with eight rebounds while James Harden added 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists for Houston. The Rockets continued their poor shooting from deep, finishing 12 of 40 on 3s while shooting just 39.2 percent overall. Harden missed 5 of 6 treys and shot 5 of 16 overall.
The Lakers turned a 12-0 run into a 28-10 advantage in the first quarter, getting 3s from Caldwell-Pope and James while recording three blocks and forcing two turnovers during the rally. The Lakers entered the second quarter with a plus-8 advantage on the glass and eight fast-break points while limiting the Rockets to 6-for-21 shooting.
The Rockets weren’t any more competitive in the second quarter and needed a Harden buzzer-beater to cut the deficit to 23 points at the intermission. The Lakers made half of their 18 3-point attempts in the first half and recorded 17 assists on their 28 baskets. Just for good measure, the Lakers totalled 19 second-chance points.
 The Lakers hit their largest lead at 95-65 on a Kyle Kuzma layup at the 2:25 mark of the third quarter.
Meanwhile Harden’s relationship with the Houston Rockets appears beyond repair after a second consecutive lopsided defeat left him venting his frustration with the team. 
The Rockets (3-6) are second from bottom of the Western Conference following loss to the Lakers. They lost to the same team 120-102 on Sunday.
Several reports in the lead-up to the season said Harden was seeking a trade from the Rockets, though the guard has batted away the speculation.
“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can,” said Harden. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
The Rockets trailed by 30 points in the third quarter on Tuesday and Harden said they were well short of the quality required to challenge the top teams.
“We’re not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there,” he told a news conference. “I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.
“We’re just not good enough – chemistry, talent-wise, just everything.”
Joel Embiid scored 35 of his 45 points in the second half and overtime to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers past the Miami Heat 137-134. Embiid was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line, including two with 8.9 seconds left in overtime, to go along with 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Danny Green tied a franchise record with nine 3-pointers on his way to 29 points, and he added 10 rebounds as the Sixers snapped a three-game losing streak.
Tyler Herro led the Heat with 34 points, Duncan Robinson added 26 and Gabe Vincent had a career-high 24. Precious Achiuwa contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Kelly Olynyk had 15 points.
Both teams were without a number of key players, including the Sixers’ Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle and the Heat’s Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn, due to health and safety protocols.

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