James Harden scores 51, but Chris Paul leaves Rockets’ loss to Lakers with leg injury

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Rockets have ridden a simple plan to victory:

  • Excel when James Harden and Chris Paul play together
  • Play even better when Harden plays without Paul
  • Absolutely dominate when Paul plays without Harden

But, in a 122-116 loss to the Lakers tonight that snapped a 14-game win streak, Houston lost a key component of all-star-guard-all-the-time rotation.

Rockets broadcaster Craig Ackerman:

Paul missed 14 games earlier this season with a left-knee injury. It’s unclear whether this injury is to the same area of his leg.

Harden can carry the Rockets for a while if necessary, as he did earlier in the season. He scored 51 points tonight. (Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 38.)

But Houston is a title contender because of the Harden-Paul pairing. We’ll learn more about Paul’s status, but the stakes are high.