Smith: Kevin Porter Jr. finding his shot again with Rockets

Ex-Rocket Russell Westbrook was benched late in the fourth quarter during another loss for an underachieving Los Angeles Lakers team that could soon move on from coach Frank Vogel.

Kevin Porter Jr. dribbled, bounced around and drilled a big late-game 3-pointer during a win for the rebuilding Rockets on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

How times change, especially in the ever-changing NBA.

Porter is on a four-game streak that marks his best run with the Rockets this season, who are 14-32 overall but have won three of their last four contests.

He scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with eight assists during the Rockets’ 116-111 road win over Utah. He’s averaged 18 points during the run, shooting at least 50 percent from the floor in three of the games (all wins) and being just as efficient behind the 3-point line.

Two of the victories were against bad teams (Sacramento, San Antonio). Utah played without All-Star guard and team leader Donovan Mitchell on Wednesday. And the Rockets are still the worst team in the Western Conference, while their -8 point differential is the third-worst in the NBA.

Still. Progress is progress. Consistency is consistency. And when every bit of development matters, it’s encouraging to see Porter play winning, efficient basketball — especially on the road, where the Rockets are also a Western Conference-worst 7-19.

For the season, Porter is shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor and 63.6 percent from the line, while…

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