The Los Angeles Lakers led the Houston Rockets by 17 points in the second quarter, held a 13-point advantage at halftime and were up 10 entering the fourth on Tuesday night. Over the next 12 minutes, they missed 12 of 19 field-goal attempts, 4 of 5 3-pointers, 6 of 13 free throws (including five by struggling target and center Dwight Howard) and turned the ball over five times.
On the other end, they were utterly unable to stop the Rockets, allowing James Harden and unheralded big man Greg Smith to march to the foul line (10 for 12 combined in the period) and reserve guard Toney Douglas (eight of his team-high 22 points in the final frame) to run amok en route to a 34-point fourth quarter. The defensive meltdown continued a worrying recent trend for L.A. — it was its second straight huge fourth-quarter collapse and came just a week after another late defensive lapse cost them a win against the Indiana Pacers — and completely changed the game, allowing Houston to score a stunning 107-105 win, dropping the scuffling Lakers to 8-10 on the season.
As Kobe Bryant's last-ditch 3-pointer and Metta World Peace's offensive putback went awry, Rockets radio play-by-play announcer Craig Ackerman used Bryant's own recent words about teammate Pau Gasol to put a perfect button on the collapse, the comeback and the Lakers' ongoing woes:
Nailed it. Laker haters are reeeeeeeeeeally enjoying this, aren't they?
Hat-tip and mil gracias, as always, to the dynamite Rockets community ClutchFans.