#1 ome crowd. Harden had tied it up about a minute von lebaobei123 10.04.2019 04:54

HOUSTON -- Los Angeles coach Mike DAntoni paid a lot of attention to former Lakers centre Dwight Howard down the stretch. He needed to get the ball out of the hands of Houston Rockets guard James Harden and figured the best way to do that was with the "Hack-a-Howard" defence. The strategy worked perfectly with Howard missing seven late free throws to allow the Lakers to keep it close before Steve Blake hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift them to a 99-98 victory Thursday night. "I think it went real well because we took Harden out of the game," DAntoni said. Howard spurned the Lakers to sign an $88 million deal with Houston, joining Harden and a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009. A sombre Howard called his free throw shooting "terrible," but wouldnt concede that this loss was more difficult because it was against his former team. "Every loss hurts," said Howard, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds. "Nobody likes to lose. Its very upsetting that we lost the way we did." DAntonis decision to foul Howard was surprising because last season he said that the hack-a-whoever defence was bad for the game. "That doesnt mean youre not going to use it, if its out there," he said. "Im not crazy." Houston led by two points before Blake took the inbounds pass from Jodie Meeks and made the game-winning shot. The Rockets were disappointed they let Blake get free for the winning basket. "Guys just kind of messed up on the play," Howard said. "It happens." The Rockets had a chance to win it, but Patrick Beverleys 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the backboard. "I was in a rhythm and then they started fouling Dwight," said Harden, who scored 35 points. "It kind of slows us down. It slows our pace down and what we like to do. Good coaching." The Rockets took their first lead since the first quarter on a dunk by Chandler Parsons following a steal by Harden that made it 93-91 with about 4 minutes left. Parsons left his arms outstretched as he came down from the dunk to wild applause from the home crowd. Harden had tied it up about a minute earlier on a 3-pointer. The Lakers started fouling Howard every time he touched the ball after that, sending him to the line 12 times, but he made just five. Meeks, who led the Lakers with 18 points, made a 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes remaining to cut the lead to two. The Lakers struggled all last season amid reports that Howard and Kobe Bryant didnt get along, and were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Los Angeles could have offered him a 5-year contract worth $118 million, but he chose to make the move to Houston with a four-year deal. "He made his choice, which is good," DAntoni said of Howard. "Youve got to respect that. Hes fine and theyre going to have a great team. Youre just happy for everybody because we won." The Lakers extended their lead to 14 points on a jump shot by Chris Kaman with about 8 minutes left in the third quarter. Houston finally got its offence going after that, going on a 15-3 run to get within 74-72 with 3 minutes left in the quarter. A highlight in that span came when Howard bobbled a bad pass from Harden before getting a handle on it and spinning around to finish with a dunk. The Rockets got eight points from Jeremy Lin during that run and the Lakers had three turnovers. Wesley Johnson made a 3-pointer to cool off the Rockets, but a 3-pointer by Harden just near the end of the quarter cut the lead to 81-77. Houston shot just under 35 per cent and made just two of 13 3-point attempts in the first half. But the Rockets stayed in the game by making 18 of 27 free throws -- 25 in the second quarter alone -- before halftime. The Lakers didnt share in Houstons long-range shooting woes in the first half, hitting 11 of 14 3-point attempts. The Lakers led by 17 points early in the second quarter before Houston used a 13-5 spurt capped by seven points from Harden to cut the lead to 45-36 about 7 1-2 minutes before halftime. Hardens seven points came in just 35 seconds. He made the second of two free throws before hitting a 3-pointer seconds later. Howard got a rebound on the other end and Harden made a layup. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw. Harden made five more free throws in the last 1:19 of the first half, but 3-pointers by Steve Nash and Meeks extended the Lakers lead to 64-50 at halftime. NOTES: Former Rockets star Tracy McGrady and current Houston Texans J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson attended the game. ... Meeks made the first four 3-pointers he attempted to tie a career-high for most 3-pointers made without a miss. Dave Casper Jersey . - The Minnesota Vikings have ruled Christian Ponder out for Sundays game at Baltimore, because the quarterback has not yet passed all of his post-concussion tests. 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The unrestricted free agent agreed to terms with the club on Thursday on a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000.DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have signed forward Colin Campbell to a two-way, entry-level deal. The move was announced Monday. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says the 6-foot-1, 203-pound, hard-hitting Campbell will sppend the rest of this season with the American Hockey Leagues Grand Rapids Griffins.dddddddddddd Campbell had 14 goals and 29 points this season as a senior for Lake Superior State. He is from Pickering, Ontario. ' ' '

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