With Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and reserve big man Jordan Hill sidelined, Robert Sacre and Darius Morris were forced into starting roles. The piecemeal starting lineup actually started out strong, as Los Angeles jumped out to an 18-4 lead. But then Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni had to go to his bench.
With the injuries throwing the entire rotation off kilter, D'Antoni turned to rarely used guys like Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark for long stretches. Jamison played 24 minutes, the most he has played in a game since Dec. 12. Clark played 21 minutes, which is by far the most he has played all season. Jodie Meeks also saw 32 minutes of action, more than 12 minutes above his season average. The results were disastrous.
The game turned almost immediately once the Lakers' bench guys took the floor. Los Angeles allowed Carlos Delfino to get going early from long range, and he would victimize the Lakers all night, scoring 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 5-of-7 from three. Toney Douglas and Patrick Patterson also had strong games off the bench for Houston.
For the game, the Lakers' bench was outscored by the Rockets' bench, 44-30, and combined for a -47 on the night. To illustrate just how bad it was, check out the plus/minus chart from Basketball-Reference.com:
Howard, Gasol and Hill are all going to miss the Lakers' game on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs' bench is one of the best in the NBA, so things certainly will not be any easier for the embattled Lakers unit. If a better performance from that group is not turned in, Los Angeles will likely be staring at five straight losses for the first time since April 2011.