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Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James leads balanced effort in Houston as the Lakers use big second half to defeat the Rockets

LeBron James vs. the Rockets
(NBA Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers tipped-off the second half of their season with the five-game Grammy road trip. It wasn't going to be easy as the road trip began in Houston and the purple-and-gold were still without Anthony Davis, one half of their superstar combination.

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Nonetheless, the Lakers rode into Houston and used a big second half to hand the Rockets their third straight loss and the fourth in their last five. After trailing by as many as 11 in the first half, the Lakers flipped the game in the third quarter to eventually win convincingly by nine points.

Here are the takeaways from a game that had multiple former MVPs on the floor:

LeBron shines as Lakers show-off depth

LeBron James, the league's assist leader, dished out 12 assists while dropping 31 points (13-25 FG's). This was his eighth 30-point, 10-assist double-double this season, the most by any Laker in a season since Magic Johnson (1989-90).

Wearing his Air Jordan 5 inspired black LeBron 15s, James sparked the Lakers' second-half comeback and received the MVP chants late in the fourth quarter from the Toyota Center crowd.

Without Davis, James did a lot of the heavy lifting but he received plenty of help from his supporting cast. Other than James, there were three other 20+ point scorers for the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma (23 pts; 8-16 FG's), Danny Green (20 pts; 4-7 3Ps), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20 pts; 7-14 FG's).

Green and Caldwell-Pope did a lot more than just scoring as the duo combined for five assists and six steals.

The other key contributors for the Lakers were the big men - JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard - who contributed across the board. In 18 minutes, McGee finished with nine points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and two assists while Howard recorded six points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and two steals in 25 minutes.

3rd quarter turnaround

At halftime, the Lakers trailed by six (65-59).

Then, they turned the game around in the third quarter, outscoring the Rockets 32-17. While they shot 10-of-18 (55.6%) from the field, they restricted the Rockets to 6-of-28 (21.4%).

More importantly, the hosts struggled to knock down shots from beyond the arc, only knocking one 3-pointer in 11 attempts.

Once they took the game's lead early in the third quarter, they never looked back and then held a double-digit lead for a majority of the fourth quarter.

Rockets MVPs struggle efficiency-wise

The Rockets were led by their former MVP duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Both stuffed the stat sheet with Westbrook nearly recording a triple-double but neither had a great outing.

Harden finished with 34 points, seven assists, and six rebounds but committed five turnovers and was a -12 in his 39 minutes of action. In the Rockets' recent rough stretch, where they have gone 1-4 in their last five games, it's almost like the game's result depends on Harden's 3-point shooting.

In the Rockets four losses during the last five games, he has shot a combined 10-of-43 (23.3%) from beyond the arc, never shooting better 27% in either game. In fact, his recent struggles from long range stretch to a couple of weeks - 20-74 (27.0%).

In this one, he went 2-of-9 from long distance.

On the other hand, Westbrook began this game with a great first half - 22 points (9-12 FG's), three assists, two rebounds, two steals and a +5. However, things turned around in the second half. He finished the game with 34 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals but had committed six turnovers (four in the 2nd half) and was a -5 in his 40 minutes of game time.

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