Lakers miss chance to gain ground in loss to lowly Rockets

HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets came into Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers tied with the Detroit Pistons for fewest wins in the NBA this season with 16. They proceeded to go up by as many as 18 points in the first half en route to a 114-110 victory.

“We’ve talked about it and I’ve said it before games, after games, non-game days: energy, effort and urgency,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “And I thought coming out of the gates that kind of was nonexistent.”

The Lakers were without LeBron James (right foot), Anthony Davis (right foot) and Mo Bamba (left ankle), leaving Ham with limited options in the middle. He elected to start the 6-8 Rui Hachimura in Davis’ place.

Hachimura jumped center and didn’t win the opening tipoff against Houston’s Alperen Sengun. Things didn’t get much better from there.

The Rockets made eight of their first 11 field goal attempts, getting to the rim with ease. By the end of the night, Houston outscored L.A. 78-46 in the paint.

“It’s a product of us not being good on the ball,” Ham said. “That individual pride it takes to keep the ball in front and guys behind you knowing that the paint is the priority. This team lives in the paint. The Houston Rockets live in the paint. … And we preached that to them before the game.”

The Lakers made a push to cut it to four with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Rockets reeled off a 9-0 run in the next 1 minute, 27 seconds to blow it back open.

“We just got to play the game