Things went about as bad as they could for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Houston Rockets. The team fell 112-97 in an overall sloppy, lethargic contest.
Anthony Davis was solid statistically, leading the Lakers with 25 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three steals and three blocks, but it simply wasn’t enough. Davis shot 10-of-16 from the field, but had some issues establishing deep position against the shorter, but stout Rockets defenders.
“They’re trying to switch everything,” he said. “They try to keep me away from the rim. We tried to get me off screens and things like that, but that’s their defense. Even when I’m there, they’re fronting the post and then they’ve got guys on the backside to try to cover up.
“I think if we make a couple more shots it kind of opens it up. When I catch it down there I’m getting the looks that I want. At the same time, I think we’ve got to do a better job with our spacing and cutting, so if they are fronting, flashing a guy and working on counters to make sure we make them pay for the defense they’re trying to play.”
Surprisingly the 3-point differential was not as massive as was expected heading into the series, but did likely play into the Rockets’ hands. The Lakers took 38 3-pointers on the night, making 11 compared to the Rockets knocking down 14 of their 39 attempts.
The Lakers are known for dominating the paint, but shockingly lost that battle as well with the Rockets outscoring them 42-40 inside. It would seem that the Lakers were focused too much on the 3-point line, but Davis was fine with the looks the Lakers got.
“A couple of them were tough shots but most of them I think were great looks for us. Got them in rotation and our shooters got open looks. We just didn’t make as many as we wanted. I don’t think we’re falling into their hands,” he said.
“We played our style of basketball: ball in the post and making a read from there. We’ve got guys that can shoot the ball as well. We can’t come down and shoot bad shots, we’ve got to get good shots every time, make sure we’re playing with pace and make them adjust to us.”
Whatever the case may be, the Lakers will need to make some adjustments if they plan on turning things around in the coming games. The Rockets have no one who can guard Davis, but the Lakers will have to adjust and figure out the best way to take advantage of the walking nightmare matchup they have on their side.
LeBron James believes Lakers must adjust to Rockets’ speed
The Lakers have the size advantage in their matchup with the Rockets, but Houston undoubtedly owns a speed advantage. In Game 1 it was speed that won out as the Rockets stifled the Lakers with their defense and were able to get out on the break and into the paint at will.
“You adjust to that by playing against it,” James said. “It’s kind of like in the early 2000s when the St. Louis Rams, the ‘Greatest Show on Turf,’ and people always say how you can scout them but until you got on the field and saw Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk, Az Hakim and all those guys, it was like, ‘OK, we need to play them again.’
“There’s no way you can simulate that speed, so getting out on the floor and having a Game 1 gives you a good feel for it.”
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