With the Houston Rockets' trades over the past couple of days, their first contest with their super-small-ball lineup was against the Los Angeles Lakers.
And with all their starters standing at 6-foot-6 or shorter, James Harden took the opening tip.
James Harden really took the opening tip against JaVale 😂 pic.twitter.com/PqANrg7Ei0- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 7, 2020
Despite the oddity of their line-up, the Rockets competed all game and came out victorious, 121-111. Here are the biggest takeaways from the Rockets' debut of new-look small-small lineup.
Russell Westbrook's big night
Russell Westbrook finished with a game-high 41 points (17-of-28 FG), while also recording eight rebounds, five assists, finishing a +12 in his 37 minutes of action. En route those numbers, Westbrook joined the 20,000 point club, becoming just the 46th player in NBA history to reach thaat mark..
Russell Westbrook joins LeBron James and Oscar Robertson as the third player in NBA history to accumulate 20000 points, 6000 rebounds and 7000 assists in his career. pic.twitter.com/8NbvAf2nJr- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 7, 2020
He also passed Lenny Wilkins for 14th on the league's all-time assists list.
In his on-court post-game interview, he paid tribute to Laker legend Kobe Bryant.
"Every time I step on this floor it's definitely going out to him."@russwest44 talks to @ALaForce after his big game in LA to discuss how Kobe's passing impacts the rest of his career. pic.twitter.com/DFQSQJaa7u- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2020
After a rough start with the Rockets, where he was still getting accustomed to his new team, of late Westbrook has been impressive to say the least, especially over the past month.
Russell Westbrook, last 30 days:- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 7, 2020
33.4 PPG (2nd in NBA, Lillard)
52.6 FG% (2nd in NBA, Giannis)*
8.2 APG (5th in NBA) pic.twitter.com/nu6SqBVJmk
Westbrook's play helped the Rockets compete despite a rough shooting game from James Harden. The Beard finished with 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting and 1-of-6 from three, adding seven rebounds, and seven assists.
AD shines but Lakers fall to small-ball
Anthony Davis was the pick of the Lakers as he recorded 32 points on an efficient 14-of-21 shooting, adding 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals, three blocks, and zero turnovers in 40 minutes.
LeBron James nearly finished with a triple-double with 18 points, 15 assists, and nine rebounds but struggled shooting from the field.
👀 the angles from @KingJames' incredible reverse slam! #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/9UOXendava- NBA (@NBA) February 7, 2020
He had the home crowd buzzing in the third quarter with this outstanding dunk in transition, but he shot 8-of-19 from the field and 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. He wasn't the only one though. The Lakers, as a whole, only knocked down nine 3-pointers in 31 attempts.
"Our offensive rhythm was out of sync. We didn't play with a high enough motor," Lakers' head coach Frank Vogel said in the post-game press conference.
"We were terrible with forcing the ball inside."- Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 7, 2020
Frank Vogel on #Lakers turnovers disrupting their flow on offense. pic.twitter.com/ddipNEQZ8R
In the second quarter, Anthony Davis sprained his right index finger but halftime X-ray results were negative. Post-game, in the locker room, Davis said that his finger feels fine.
Rockets' small-ball shows positives, at least in Game 1
Robert Covington, who's acquisition sparked the Rockets' super small-ball line-up, had a great debut for his new team.
Robert Covington debut with the Rockets:- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 7, 2020
🚀 4/7 from three
🚀 +15 +/- (highest on team)
🚀 Late block on AD
🚀 Two clutch threes pic.twitter.com/XvAZBACFyR
Over the last 4:30 minutes of the game, with a line-up of Harden-Westbrook-Covington-Tucker-Gordon, the Rockets sealed the game with a 16-3 run.
Covington knocked down 4-of-7 three-point attempts on his way to 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks.
It's only one game but the Rockets' small-ball lineup held their own on the glass, with the Lakers only outrebounding them by one (38-37).
While the Lakers outscored them in the paint by 22 (62-40), the Rockets made that up with their shooting by knocking down 19 three-pointers while only allowing nine.
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