The Los Angeles Lakers outplayed the Houston Rockets for a strong majority of Game 4. Head coach Frank Vogel abandoned the traditional center position, with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard not seeing the floor, and the team responded with one of their best performances of the postseason thus far.
However, L.A. did get complacent in the fourth quarter after holding a double-digit lead for most of the game. The Lakers entered the fourth up by 16 and extended it to 23 with 7:21 remaining in the game.
After reaching a 101-78 blowout score, the Rockets forged an incredible comeback. A 22-4 run over the next six minutes brought Houston to within five before the Lakers clinched the game in the final minute.
Vogel certainly knows where the team can improve after seeing a meltdown nearly occur, but chalks it more up to the Rockets getting desperate. “A little bit of a lapse, but again, this is a team of runs and a team that’s got a lot of fight, spirit and firepower,” Vogel said.
“It’s a 48-minute game, we know if we get a big lead and it gets down to crunch time, they’re going to get desperate. We didn’t take care of the ball well enough and execute offensively well enough, but it’s something we can work on and improve upon. Overall, it’s a heck of a win for our group. Again, we’re not going to be comfortable playing against this team with the firepower that they have.
While the Lakers have a commanding series lead, Vogel stressed not allowing that mentality to set in. “We’re up 3-1 but we’ve got to stay the course and stay the more desperate team,” he said for Game 5.
Vogel has made great adjustments all series long, and hopefully he’ll be able to continue that trend to curb any potential problems the Rockets may throw at them in a do or die Game 5.
Vogel credits Lakers roster for role acceptance
A part of the Lakers ability to so easily adjust to the Rockets style of play has been the acceptance of any role by the entire roster. Vogel credited them for making it easy to change the game plan quickly.
“In particular in the playoffs, you get to certain series where one player’s skillset may make them more meaningful than it will in a different series,” he said. “We have the flexibility and versatility to do those types of things, adjust from one half to another, from one game to another. Our guys have been wonderful about playing their part and doing whatever is asked of them.”
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