The Lakers celebrated Steve Nash’s career, about all that was left to celebrate in their long, lost season. The Rockets just celebrated. Nash moved to third in NBA history for career assists. The Rockets spent nearly every minute that followed pouring it on, scoring more points than any team has in the NBA this season – and more than any team has in four quarters in the past four seasons – cruising through the fourth quarter to a 145-130 blowout. The Rockets easily surpassed the 134 points they scored in their other trip to Staples Center to play the Lakers, relentlessly driving through the injury-depleted Lakers frontcourt to score a season-high 80 points in the paint, 14 more than they had in any game. “Yeah, we had it going,” said James Harden, who had 33 points and 12 assists in 32 minutes before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. “We still gave up too many points, more than we wanted to, but offensively, we kind of got it going and made up for our lack of defense.” Terrence Jones started the assault on the rim in the opening minutes and finished with 33 points in 33 minutes. He left the game with a cramp in his left calf, though he quickly returned to the bench and was available to return to the game. “It wasn’t an injury,” Jones said. “It was just a muscle cramp real fast. I worked it out in the back before the fourth quarter even started.” Jones sat out the fourth quarter three points shy of his career high of 36, but the ease with which he scored was about more than just the Lakers’ complete lack of rim protection. In the three games since returning from the flu, he has averaged 22 points per game, making 56.5 percent of his shots. “I’m just trying to be aggressive when we have guys out,” Jones said. “With Dwight (Howard) out, I want to be the other big that’s going to be aggressive and make sure I can help pick up that slack. I just wanted to be aggressive and get fouled. That’s how this team plays – layups and 3s. If I’m not shooting a 3, I’m going to get all the way to the basket.” With Harden and Jones through early, it left the career-high portion of the evening to Isaiah Canaan who matched the 15 points he scored against the Nuggets on Sunday, and Donatas Motiejunas, who had eight fourth-quarter rebounds to finish with a career-best 15. Of greater importance, with the win, the Rockets would lock up homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs with any combination of two wins or Trail Blazers losses. With the loss, the Lakers’ 53rd, the Lakers have more losses than in any season since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. That reduced the Rockets’ games against the Lakers in Los Angeles to being about side shows besides the games themselves. In February, it was about Dwight Howard’s first game in Staples Center to play the Lakers since leaving them and how much derision fans could toss at him. On Tuesday, the first half at least was about Nash’s move up a rung in the record books.
Rockets run wild in rout of Lakers
Houston Chronicle | Apr 9