The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 119-117 again on Tuesday even though the visitors put a lot more pressure on L.A. than a couple of days earlier, when the back-to-back mini-series began.
The young Houston squad found a way to improve their offense significantly during the two-day break in between the games. Their field goal accuracy rose from 42.1% in the first clash to 52.7% in the second and the 3-point efficiency from 21.4% to 38.1%.
The Lakers nearly succumbed to the red-hot Rockets shooting. After reclaiming the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, L.A. allowed Jalen Green to sink two late fourth-quarter threes that brought the game back within a point with just seconds left on the clock.
“They have some guys that can make plays,” Anthony Davis said, commenting on the hectic end of the clash.
“Kevin Porter Jr., Christian Wood, Jalen Green, can all shoot the ball. Armoni Brooks played tonight, DJ Augustin. They all got hot. They made shots tonight, [they] didn’t make a lot of shots on Sunday.”
Davis said L.A. nearly fell victim to Houston’s youth energy, adding that games against young teams like the Rockets always come with a certain degree of unpredictability.
“When you have a young team like that, with no conscience, you really don’t expect to win, you just go out there and hoop,” he said.
The 28-year-old All-Star gave credit to Houston’s young stars for picking themselves up after the Sunday loss and finding their rhythm on offense, which often made the Lakers scramble on the defensive end.
“Hats off to them,’ Davis said. “They’re a young team that’s coming in that are playing with a lot of freedom.
“They have guys who can play. Sunday, they didn’t make a lot of shots, tonight they did. We just try to play as good of defense as we can. Take the ball out if they make it and run and score right back. It was just a matter of containing those guys.
“They got very comfortable to start the game. They were getting their confidence throughout the course of the game.”
Davis frustrated with late-game officiating
Besides the Rockets’ pressure, the Lakers had to cope with disadvantageous officiating late in the fourth quarter, losing a possession due to the referees’ mistakes.
The officials awarded L.A. a couple of free throws after a foul on Kent Bazemore, mistakenly thinking it was Houston’s fifth in the final period. Bazemore made both and the ball went in the Rockets’ hands. But bizarrely, the officials took away the two points a few minutes later after a review showed that the Lakers weren’t in the bonus yet.
“We didn’t take the ball out or anything,” Davis said of L.A.’s frustration with the call.
“We shot free throws, they take the points away, and now we just lose the entire possession, which could have cost us the game. They just said there is nothing they can do about it and stuff like that. So it’s a good thing it didn’t hurt us, but yeah, that was a funky situation.”
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