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Rockets blast Lakers as surge continues for Jalen Green, Cam Whitmore

HOUSTON — In the opener of a three-game homestand at Toyota Center, the Rockets won a potentially critical game in the Western Conference standings race with Monday’s 135-119 victory (box score) over the LeBron James- and Anthony Davis-led Los Angeles Lakers.

With the win, Houston (22-24) is currently tied in the loss column with the Lakers and Jazz, who are both 24-24. Los Angeles and Utah currently hold the No. 9 and No. 10 slots in the West standings, which will eventually represent the final spots in the conference’s play-in tournament for the 2023-24 NBA playoffs.

As things stand today, the Rockets are well positioned for a potential tiebreaker against either team. Houston split its four-game season series with the Lakers but currently holds a five-game lead in the loss column by conference record, which would be the next criteria. The Rockets have won their only game versus Utah to date.

As for Monday’s game, the Rockets led by double digits from the end of the first quarter onward, and the individual standouts included third-year prospect Jalen Green and rookie Cam Whitmore. Both talented guards have played extremely well in recent games, and neither showed any signs of slowing down versus the Lakers.

Led by Green and Alperen Sengun, the impressive totals included:

  • Green: 34 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists; 12-of-23 shooting (52.2%), 4-of-10 on 3-pointers (40.0%), 6-of-6 on free throws

  • Sengun: 31 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals; 14-of-23 shooting (60.9%)

  • Whitmore: 20 points, 6 rebounds in 18 minutes; 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%), 2-of-6 on 3-pointers (33.3%), 4-of-6 on free throws (66.7%)

  • Jabari Smith Jr.: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals in 36 minutes; 8-of-13 shooting, 2-of-5 on 3-pointers (40.0%)

  • Dillon Brooks: 17 points, 3 rebounds in 28 minutes; 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%), 2-of-4 on 3-pointers

  • Fred VanVleet: 3 points, 14 assists, 2 steals in 37 minutes; 0-of-4 on 3-pointers

Whitmore has now scored at least 19 points in three consecutive games, while Green has scored 29 or more in four straight.

Davis had 23 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes for the Lakers, shooting 10-of-20 from the field (50.0%) while making all three of his 3-pointers. James added 23 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes, shooting 9-of-15 overall (60.0%) and 2-of-5 on 3-pointers (40.0%).

Smith was returning from a four-game absence due to a sprained left ankle and looked quite fresh over his 31 minutes.

Here’s our look at Monday’s highlights and postgame interviews, along with reaction by media members and fans. As the homestand continues, bext up for the Rockets is Wednesday’s matchup versus the New Orleans Pelicans (26-20). Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. Central.

Jan. 29 Rockets-Lakers reaction

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire