James Harden, Rockets Blow Up Lakers

The Lakers will not find their surprise attack misplaced on Thursday, not with LeBron James missing and the Lakers losing many keeper points.

However, the missiles rub her.

It wasn't that their defense punished the struggling offensive team, although when not involved, the Rockets made things more difficult. Instead, the Rockets poured into 3 pointers as if to demonstrate how much it could be worth when they got in.

Rockets sank 19 points 3 more than the Lakers, the second largest differential in NBA history, and dealt with the Lakers, 113-97, to move to 3-1 in the NBA replay at the Disney campus outside Orlando.

With Russell Westbrook, like James remaining off the field, James Harden scored 39 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Rockets. Ben Maclemore added 20. Mostly, even with Westbrook and Eric Gordon not available, the Rockets had more weapons than the Lakers - without James, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, and Avery Bradley.

Rockets 21 from 57 climbed from the 3-point line, calmed down in the fourth quarter, but still illustrated the enormous difference between the Lakers team which was 2 of 19 from the bottom and last time in scoring, the field goal ratio and 3. percentage points in the bubble.

Anthony Davis scored 17 points in 30 minutes to lead the Lakers and scored just four in eight minutes in the third quarter before the Lakers scored most of their start in the fourth quarter. That was when they set out to run, but the missile firepower captured again.

Harden had 25 points in the first half, and the 21st match this season had 25 points in half. But the Lakers exited the second quarter as a double team, and worked to get the ball out of his hands and seize their chances with the scorers around him with Westbrook and Gordon.

For most of the first half, rockets had things that worked as planned, other than their constant problems with excessive pollution.

They were giving up a lot of points at the edge. But even with James's exit, this was to be expected against the team that scores the no-go zone more than any other NBA team. Rockets got a lot of that by forcing sales and pushing the pace.

The Rockets had a 3-point shooting, with Jeff Green and McLemore continuing their hot re-shoot. The Lakers got nothing from the depth, and missed his six-shot attempts in the first half.

The Rockets even effectively attacked when the Lakers finally started forming a double team with Harden, with Harden reaching the edge or the Rockets moving the ball to unlock the 3s.

Late in the game, however, Harden finished a three-point game to gain 14 points and the Rockets' defense was halted poorly. The Lakers ran the floor and got into the paint quickly and easily. After scoring 43 points in the first 21 minutes of the game, the Rockets scored 13 points in the last three minutes, all in the paint or off the streak.

The Rockets still had a 65-56 lead in the second half after Macklemore knocked out his fifth 3 pointers in the half and Harden finished another push. But the Rockets also knew they had to keep a more comfortable pillow, having done so much that they argued well after their Tuesday loss, but stopped early.

The Lakers were eight points ahead when they hit the first 3 pointers of the night, two and a half minutes into the second half. But the Rockets' attack continued to murmur, with the ball's movement growing faster and more tenuous, resulting in the 3s unlock. When the Rockets reduced the Lakers' set of layups and stopped messing too much, they pushed the lead to 18 and scored 94-79 in the fourth quarter.

With Harden on the bench, the missile attack hit a wall. Rockets apprentice Michael Frazier tried with Westbrook and Gordon, but missed his three shots and a pair of free throws. Austin Rivers missed the first seven shots. Maclemore was in trouble.

The Rockets missed nine shots by three turns in seven minutes to finish the third quarter and begin the fourth. But they can still move the ball to unlock the 3s and keep shooting away.

The Lakers, or what was left of them, could not keep up.

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