The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 4 p.m. PT, it has been announced. The matchup will be televised by TNT and can be live streamed on TNT Overtime.
L.A. took a big step toward securing a spot in the conference finals on Tuesday, beating Houston 112-102 in a gritty Game 3 battle and taking a 2-1 lead in the series. But a victory on Thursday would heavily increase their odds of claiming a series win; only 12 teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Playoffs history.
However, the Lakers cannot get ahead of themselves as Houston have proven to be a mighty and confident opponent. Despite a loss, the Rockets came back from a 21-point deficit in Game 2 and competed neck and neck on Tuesday, before LeBron James and Rajon Rondo inspired a late run to seal the win.
James ended the game with 36 points, five assists, seven rebounds and four blocks. Meanwhile, Rondo added 21 points, nine assists and two rebounds, and Anthony Davis chipped in 26 points, shooting 9-for-13 from the field.
The Lakers stars have to stay at their best for the remainder of the series as James Harden and Co. will certainly be even more determined in Game 4 and onward.
Ahead of Tuesday’s clash, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said he could sense desperation among the Lakers due to their defensive strategy and added he was confident the series would eventually turn in his team’s favor.
Harden echoed D’Antoni’s words. “We’re excited. We’re more confident,” he said after the Game 2 loss. “Even though we lost, we’re even more confident that we have a chance, because we didn’t play well and we let some of their role players get off and make shots, get opportunities to score, which we can control. Our confidence has skyrocketed.”
It is clear Houston will not be discouraged by the Tuesday loss either, especially as they caused L.A. a fair amount of troubles before the James-Rondo fourth-quarter takeover.
James dishes on ‘Playoff Rondo’
Rondo struggled in Game 1 against Houston upon his return from thumb and back injuries. But he made a real difference off the bench in the following two showings, evoking the famous ‘Playoff Rondo’ spirit used to describe the form surge the 2008 NBA champion often happens to record in the postseason.
Following Game 3, the veteran point guard questioned the authenticity of “Playoff Rondo,” explaining he only seems to play better because he has been enjoying more minutes on the court.
And when asked about the notion, James deferred to Rondo but offered his teammate a hefty praise. “Listen, at the end of the day, whatever makes ‘Do continue to play like he’s playing, then I don’t buy into it either,” he said. “But he’s been exceptional these last two games.
“For me, being in the playoffs and on the opposing side of him for so many years, I knew what he was capable of, especially in the postseason. To now be on the same side as him, seeing it coming together for the both of us and our team, it’s perfect.”
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