Bolstered by a nearly fully healthy roster, at long last, and fueled by an electric second quarter, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (12-9) rolled to an easier-than-expected win over the Houston Rockets, 107-97, on Saturday night at Arena.

Playing their fifth contest in eight days — the first in Los Angeles since Nov. 22 — the Lakers showed little signs of travel fatigue.

“I was more surprised with the energy level that we had coming off the road trip,” said LeBron, who often notes that the first home game after an extended excursion can cause problems.

James, matched up with Dillon Brooks, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on 7-for-17 shooting in 35 minutes. Yet, with one baseline 360 reverse layup, he found a way to lead the Lakers' robust highlight package for the night while showcasing his staggering capabilities at age 38.

“I don't know. Just trying to make plays,” LeBron said about the play. “And feel like that was kind of the best way to finish that one. Happy I was able to bring it home, that's for sure. Fans got into it. And our bench got into it. Got us a technical, but we'll take that one.”

“I've seen him do some amazing ish, and that's right up there,” said Darvin Ham.

Above the Lakers' many highlights, the game's most noteworthy moment came when LeBron and Rockets head coach Ime Udoka were assessed technical fouls for a seemingly chill exchange in the fourth quarter. It was Udoka's second T.

“We had some conversation and they don't like what they heard, the refs,” explained Udoka.

“Thanksgiving,” LeBron sarcastically recalled. “How much we enjoyed Thanksgiving.”

LeBron has been called for three techs in 2023-24 — one for hanging on a rim too long, one for allegedly flopping on a charge, and one for the low-key interaction with Udoka. It's the most technicals he has racked up in a season since 2017-18 (five).

“It's a wild season,” LeBron simply stated.

Earlier on, the Lakers took control of the game with a 35-14 second quarter, which included 15 points from Austin Reaves — his career-high mark for a quarter. Reaves is still struggling with his jumper (he did make a 3 in the second quarter; he was 1-for-4), but he compensated by pushing the pace, seeking fouls, and attacking. He finished with 18 points, and, more importantly, closely resembled his post-trade-deadline self of 2022-23.

“That's probably one of the best quarters that we've had this year, especially in the first half,” said LeBron. We just haven't been a first-half team. … It came with defending, getting out, sharing the ball, moving the ball, and AR, especially in the second.” (The Lakers have trailed by double-digits in eight first quarters).

Yes, it's just the Rockets (who are 0-8 on the road) in early December. But the Lakers, with most of the rotation pieces back in the mix, looked like the formidable, switchable contender they envisioned when training camp opened (besides the clanky 3-point shooting).

Jarred Vanderbilt looked “rusty” in his season debut, by his admission, but his sheer length, energy, and defensive instincts — in addition to versatile, active defenders like Cam Reddish, Max Christie, and Taurean Prince — gave the Rockets fits. D'Angelo Russell actually channeled Derrick White and came up with five steals. Rui Hachimura warmed up in a mask but didn't play. The “plan” is for him to be ready on Tuesday.

“The athleticism and size we have on our wings — between Taurean, Cam, Max, Vando, including Bron and AD and Rui — a plethora of really quick, larger, athletic, skilled wings,” noted Ham. “That's been the most challenging part of (the season): Not having all those guys in the lineup together. But that day will come soon, and we got a little glimpse of what that looks like tonight.”

Christie, in particular, continues to look more comfortable on both ends as he solidifies into the rotation. On Saturday, the sophomore posted 12 points and seven rebounds, nailed all three of his 3s, and led the Lakers with a +19 in 29 minutes. His cutting is a weapon.

“We got guys with heavy post-ups like LeBron and AD and they're obviously really effective in the post, so you got teams doubling and coming from the baseline. It gives me a lot of opportunity to cut,” Christie explained to ClutchPoints. “With film study, I know what cuts are gonna be there, when to cut, and whatnot. The chemistry's there just because I've been doing it pretty often with all those guys.”

In general, the Lakers were quick to turn defense into offense. They consistently generated high-quality looks thanks to their activity and ball movement. Anthony Davis led the way with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks.

The Lakers will hope to keep the good vibes rolling into their tantalizing NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinal vs. the Phoenix Suns. LeBron, however, has other things on his mind for now.

“I'm going to be honest, I'm not even looking forward to Tuesday right now. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and watching a bunch of football. My [Cleveland Browns] is in town, and I'll be there. That's what I'm looking forward to. And tonight I'm looking forward to drinking a bottle of wine. I can answer that better on Monday.”