NBA Hoops

Kevin Porter Jr. leads Houston to fourth win in seven games

Kevin Porter Jr. leads Houston to fourth win in seven games

HOUSTON — With Kevin Porter Jr. leading the way, the young and rebuilding Rockets have suddenly won two straight games and four of their last seven, overall, following Wednesday’s 114-110 victory (box score) over the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets (17-52), who are midway through a six-game homestand at Toyota Center, have now won three of their last four at home. With the loss, Los Angeles (34-36) saw its lead for the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference playoff race — good for the final play-in tournament seed — slip to just a half-game.

Star forwards LeBron James (right foot soreness) and Anthony Davis did not play in Houston, with the latter sitting out for planned maintenance on night two of a road back-to-back. Austin Reaves led the visitors with 24 points and 7 assists in 27 minutes off the bench.

As for the home team, Porter was the star with 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on 11-of-16 shooting (68.8%), including 2-of-5 on 3-pointers. He needed two stitches at halftime to close a cut over his left eye, but that didn’t slow him down. KJ Martin added 16 points and 8 rebounds for the Rockets on efficient 7-of-11 shooting (63.6%).

Other Houston players who scored in double figures were:

  • Jabari Smith Jr.: 18 points, 6 rebounds; 6-of-17 shooting (35.3%), 2-of-7 on 3-pointers (28.6%), 4-of-8 free throws (50.0%)

  • Alperen Sengun: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks; 6-of-10 shooting (60.0%)

  • Jalen Green: 11 points, 6 rebounds; 4-of-13 shooting (30.8%), 2-of-6 on 3-pointers (33.3%)

  • Jae’Sean Tate (21 minutes off bench): 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; 6-of-7 shooting (85.7%)

  • Josh Christopher (13 minutes off bench): 12 points, 3 rebounds; 5-of-6 shooting (83.3%), 2-of-3 on 3-pointers

Sengun made a healthy return and played his usual starter’s minutes after missing Monday’s game with a minor groin injury.

The Rockets entered averaging the NBA’s most paint points over the last 10 games, and they finished with 78 against the Lakers — only four behind their season-high last week in Indiana. Houston also flexed its interior muscle by out-rebounding Los Angeles, 51-36.

Houston out-shot the Lakers from the field, 52.8% to 37.8%. But Los Angeles kept the game close by making 31-of-37 free throws (83.8%) while Houston shot 12-of-19 (63.2%). That was the largest differential in free-throw attempts by a Rockets’ opponent this season.

It was only the second time in the 2022-23 season for the Rockets to shoot 50% or…

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