LOS ANGELES — A 32-year-old G League veteran almost beat the red-hot Rockets.
Chris Paul scored 22 points, James Harden had 21 points and 10 assists, and the Houston Rockets kept steamrolling toward the playoffs with their 31st victory in 34 games, 105-99 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Andre Ingram scored 19 points with four 3-pointers for the Lakers in the 32-year-old guard’s impressive NBA debut. Los Angeles promoted the 10-year G League veteran from its South Bay affiliate for the final two games of the regular season, and the developmental league’s career leader in 3-pointers hit a 3 on his first NBA shot.
Ingram’s fourth 3-pointer with 51 seconds left trimmed Houston’s lead to 102-99, but the Lakers couldn’t score again. Ingram finished 6 for 8 from the field and 4 for 5 on 3-pointers along with three rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
Gerald Green scored 16 points for the Rockets as Houston hung on late to avoid its first back-to-back losses since Jan. 6. But in the first half, Houston lost backup forward Luc Mbah a Moute to a dislocated right shoulder in a meaningless game.
The Rockets are locked into the top seed in the Western Conference, but coach Mike D’Antoni still kept his regular starters and rotation. Houston then took a potentially important hit when Mbah a Moute dislocated his shoulder for the second time this season while dunking in the second quarter.
Mbah a Moute averages 7.6 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing nearly 26 minutes per game as a key rotation player.
Rookie Josh Hart scored 20 points for the Lakers, who played without injured Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma in the penultimate game of their franchise-record fifth consecutive losing season.