Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) The Houston Rockets reserves powered their team past the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers in a come-from-behind 107-105 victory Tuesday, helping Houston win their fifth game out of the last six.
The Rockets trailed the Lakers until the middle of the fourth quarter, with point guard Jeremy Lin playing for less than 20 minutes and remaining on the bench for the final quarter. Lin again finished with a season-low four points and three assists.
But Toney Douglas's season-high 22 points and Greg Smith's career-high 21, along with the other Rockets bench players, helped close the 10-point gap to four with 3:18 remaining.
The Rockets then kept fouling Lakers center Dwight Howard, whose season free throw percentage is lower than 50 percent. The strategy worked, as Howard made only five of 10 free throws during the remainder of the game.
Douglas made a three point jumper with 2:38 left and rallied the Rockets to a lead of 100-99. The two sides leveled at 102 each until James Harden and Smith added four more points for Houston.
Kobe Bryant, who finished with a game-high 39, shot a three point jumper to cut Houston's lead to one, but Douglas then made a free throw to seal the game.
The Lakers were 46.3 percent in Field Goal Made attempts, compared with Houston's 37.6 percent. However, the Lakers had 18 turnovers, eight more than their opponents.
"We had a lot of guys struggle, but our bench was good," Houston's assistant coach Kelvin Sampson told ESPN.
In the meantime, Lin being sidelined in the critical moments of the game again showed that Sampson does not trust him, said Taiwanese commentator Wang Cheng-wen.
Lin also sat on the bench during overtime against the Portland Trail Blazers Nov. 17.
However, Wang added that Douglas, who replaced Lin in the game and led the Rockets to victory against the Lakers, seemed to prove that Sampson made the correct decision.
"I won't be surprised if this happens again," said Wang, who added that Sampson will be more confident in Douglas.
However, Lin's situation should not be too worrisome, he went on, as players all have ups and downs. On the other hand, youth is 24-year-old Lin's advantage and this is just one of the many tests of his career.
Despite Sampson's mistrust in Lin, his starting position will not be replaced in the short term. "However, Lin's playing time might gradually decrease, while Douglas could get more court time," Wang noted.
(By Lung Po-an and Kendra Lin)