One would think that playing the worst team in the Western Conference would help the Los Angeles Lakers rectify their cold streak over the last several weeks.
L.A. scored enough points to stay neck and neck with the Houston Rockets in a seesaw game, but its defense was almost non-existent.
The Lakers had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but they missed all three of their shots in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Heading into overtime, it still seemed like L.A. had a real chance, but then Houston exploded from 3-point range, scoring 10 unanswered points to decide matters.
Overall, the Lakers’ Achilles heel was their lack of interior defense, as they allowed the Rockets, a team that ranks 27th in offensive rating, to score 62 points in the paint.
It seems like this Lakers team keeps hitting a new low at least once a month. With one of the NBA’s toughest schedules to close the regular season, it could get much worse.
Stanley Johnson: B
As usual, Johnson played some good, effective defense at times, which led to three steals. Offensively, he hit 2-of-3 from the field, and he made his only 3-point attempt as well.
Malik Monk: A
After a bad outing against the Spurs, Monk was hot in Houston, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from downtown to score 20 points. He also added six rebounds and two steals.
Austin Reaves: A
Reaves has been stepping up his play of late, especially offensively. He made half of his 3-pointers on Wednesday, as well as some nice defensive plays to give the Lakers a chance to win the game.
Earlier in the season, he seemed hesitant and deferential on offense, but he’s starting to assert himself more, and it also appears he’s getting more of the benefit of the doubt from the officials, as he’s getting away with more physicality on defense.
Russell Westbrook: A-
After much talk about his family receiving death threats, Westbrook had a great game on Wednesday, scoring 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds and six assists while committing just two turnovers.
However, his shooting went south a bit down the stretch,…