With the Black Mamba still rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon, the Los Angeles Lakers turned to the White Shadow — aka Steve Blake — in crunch time.
Blake hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to lift the Lakers to a 99-98 win over Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.
“This was a huge win for us,” Blake said to TNT’s Craig Sager, “considering the way we have played the last two games on the road.”
Blake was referring to the 125-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Oct. 30 and a 123-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night. Blake finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting against the Rockets, and was 4-for-6 on 3-pointers.
The Rockets (4-2) made a huge push in the second half after trailing 64-50 at halftime. James Harden scored 15 of his game-high 35 points in the second half to spearhead the run. Harden was Houston’s Mister-Do-Everything, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out four assists, snagging four steals and blocking two shots.
In his first game against his former team, Howard scored scored 15 points and had 14 rebounds and was defended pretty well by the L.A. big men.
Blake made three of four 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Steve Nash made two threes to help jumpstart the Lakers (3-3), who took a 36-19 lead after the first 12 minutes. Nash ended up with 12 points and six assists.
Blake and Nash entered the game struggling from the field. Blake was converting just 30% of his shots and Nash was making just 28.1%. The two veterans set the tone for the game.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni benched Shawne Williams and started Chris Kaman at center, moving Pau Gasol to power forward. The two 7-footers were effective in the first half, and were a huge reason L.A. was able to build an early lead. Gasol struggled offensively as he scored just two points on 1-of-10 shooting. He did grab 12 rebounds and was a factor on defense as he matched up with Howard on the defensive end.
Once again, the Lakers bench was very effective. Jodie Meeks scored a team-high 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting (5-for-7 on 3-pointers), Wesley Johnson chipped in with 16 points, four rebounds and two blocks, and Jordan Farmar added 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @djroxalot.