Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing performance in Game 1 of their series against the Houston Rockets, LeBron James spoke about the speed their opposition presents.
Comparing them to the St. Louis Rams of the early 2000s known as the ‘Greatest Show on Turf,’ James said that it’s something that you can’t prepare for simply by watching film and discussing it. James felt the Lakers essentially needed a game to witness it and make adjustments to.
They were able to do just that for the most part in Game 2 as they came away with a 117-109 victory to even the series. The Lakers’ defense was much better for most of the game and they made those adjustments that LeBron was confident they would.
“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.”
Head coach Frank Vogel spoke more of the same, noting the adjustments the Lakers had to make to combat Houston’s speed. “We adjusted. Like was talked about, we showed film and talked about their speed and gambling defense, but it took us a little while to get used to it,” Vogel added.
“The passes that we normally get in a regular season or against a traditional defense are a little bit different against a switching, gambling defense. It takes a little time to just get a feel for that. I thought we did a better job in this game than we did in Game 1.”
Many assume that because the Lakers have the size advantage they should easily be able to dominate the paint, but Houston’s defense is massively underrated. What they lack in height they make up for with strength and constantly active hands, and that caused a slew of Lakers turnovers in Game 1.
In Game 2, the Lakers were able to cut down on those by increasing movement in the halfcourt and also with their own defensive effort. Improved team defense also allowed the Lakers to create plenty of Houston turnovers, which in turn led to getting out in transition before the Rockets defense could get set.
Vogel calls LeBron ‘best leader’
While there are questions as to who is the best player on the Lakers and who needs to dominate most on the floor for the team to be successful, the team’s leader is absolutely unquestioned. James is the leader of this Lakers team both on and off the court and his fingerprints are all over this squad.
Vogel would even go further with his praise of James’ leadership. “I’ve said it since I’ve been here, he’s the best leader I’ve ever been around,” Vogel said. “He’s been real, just someone that everybody looks up to to see how they’re responding to everything.
“Obviously, where this all landed had something to do with his voice and action. More importantly, the action items that went into place for social injustice, I think his finger prints were on that as well. I continued to be impressed with him as a leader. The Lakers, Lakers Nation, we’re all lucky to have him.”