The Los Angeles Lakers started Game 4 against the Houston Rockets with a smaller lineup, featuring Markieff Morris in the place of JaVale McGee, and chalked up a decisive 110-100 win to take control of the series.
But even though neither the 7-foot center nor the 6-foot-10 Dwight Howard featured on Thursday, the Lakers did not lack size and outrebounded Houston 52-26, giving up only one offensive board. In fact, L.A. were even more dominant on the glass that they had been prior to Game 4 — when they recorded 41.7 rebounds per night during the first three clashes of the series.
The average size for NBA centers is generally considered to be between 6’10 and 6’11. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis stands at 6’10, ensuring L.A. still have the size advantage when he features at 5 against the Rockets. The 6-foot-8 Jeff Green is Houston’s tallest player who plays regular minutes this postseason.
“Even if we minimize playing Dwight and JaVale, we’re still bigger than them,” head coach Frank Vogel said ahead of Game 4. “Just with Anthony Davis being out there alone. I do think we still have a size advantage there.”
And Lakers All-Star LeBron James, who is 6’9, agreed with Vogel after the win. “I don’t look at it like a small lineup,” he said while listing height measurements of his Lakers teammates.
“When you have that type of length and that type of athleticism throughout five guys, it definitely helps clean the glass, defend, be able to rotate, be able to be in communication where if something breaks down you have guys that can fly around. It’s a good lineup for us.”
Davis pointed out that playing small allows L.A. to cover the quick Rockets defenders more efficiently, which is crucial to constraining Houston’s potent offense. “We’re able to rotate faster and we can switch a lot,” Davis said.
“When we match up with those guys, we’re able to switch and keep the ball in front of us and when they do drive and get by one of us and start kicking it out for three, our guys are able to rotate and cover up our mistakes.”
Vogel sends warning to Lakers following Houston’s late Game 4 run
The Lakers led by as many as 23 points in Game 4, but provided the Rockets with an opportunity for an unlikely comeback and let Houston go onto a fierce 22-4 run in the fourth quarter.
And Vogel has warned his players they have to avoid a similar slump in the future, especially considering Houston’s firepower. “We’ve got to keep playing. It’s not a 44-minute game,” he said.
“When a team is down 20 late in the game, especially in the playoffs, they’re fighting for their lives, they’re going to play with great desperation, and we’ve just got to take care of the ball better, execute our offense, get better shots and continue to attack, not try to milk the clock too much.”
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