The Los Angeles Lakers evened their second-round series against the Houston Rockets in a back and forth battle.
Anthony Davis was incredible on both ends of the floor, while role players like Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up their game to avoid a dreaded 2-0 series deficit. While the first half belonged entirely to the Lakers — who got whatever they wanted on offense and defense — the third quarter was dominated by the Rockets.
A 41-point effort gave Houston a two-point lead going into the fourth. Davis, however, wasn’t worried, as he knew L.A. simply needed to get back to their game plan to get the win.
That involved an intense focus on pushing the pace and forcing more misses. “We were thinking about what’s in front of us. Our job is to win a fourth quarter at that point,” Davis said of L.A.’s deficit as the fourth quarter began.
“We were down two, they had a huge run in the third, and we were thinking about the fourth quarter. We’re not in that situation thinking we could be down 0-2 if we lose this game. Our mindset is how do we win this game?
“We came out with a defensive mindset. Getting back to that defensive mindset we had in the first half, limit their 3 attempts and also when we get stops, run in transition. Play our style of basketball, and that’s getting up and down the floor. We were able to convert on that in the fourth quarter.”
Green echoed Davis’ sentiment, saying that forcing misses is key for the effect it has on offense. “Getting them to miss shots. If we’re able to get them to miss shots, get defensive stops or get them to turn the ball over, we’re able to get out and run,” Green explained.
“Mind you, we still should do that regardless. If they score a basket, try to get the ball out fast. But human nature is when they score, we’re trying to figure out — which we shouldn’t — where the mistakes were defensively. We try to take our time.
“We’ve got to get the ball out and running, because that’s our best offense, is transition. We got the stops we needed, rebounded and we were out and running. That’s going to be an emphasis for us throughout this series.”
L.A. had no problems executing on this plan in the first, second, and fourth quarter. If you remove the third, the Lakers outscored Houston 94-68.
When it comes to teams like the Rockets — who have decided to live and die by the three — the best teams can do defensively is pressure shooters without fouling. Withstanding hot streaks like the one the Rockets had in the third is crucial to the outcome of the series.
LeBron James feels L.A. has finally matched the Rockets speed
After the Game 1 loss, the Lakers felt that Houston’s speed was something they weren’t ready for, which caused the loss. Following Game 2, LeBron James now believes they’ve caught up to them and should be right in step the rest of the way.
“Like I said after Game 1, sometimes you need one game to be able to understand the speed that they play with,” he said.
“I think we adjusted from Game 1 to Game 2. An extremely fast team. Everyone keeps talking about the small ball, but their speed and activity offensively and defensively, it’s something that can catch you off guard.
“We got a feel for that and we understand how much scrambling, how much running, how much pace, how physical the game is going to be versus this team. They’re very good. Extremely good. No matter who’s on the floor.”
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