The Los Angeles Lakers moved one step closer to advancing to the Western Conference Finals after taking Game 4 against the Houston Rockets, 110-100.
Head coach Frank Vogel started the second half of Game 3 with a small-ball lineup of his own, opting for Markieff Morris in place of JaVale McGee. That unit was productive on both ends, and Vogel decided to start Game 4 with that group as well.
It seemed to work because Lakers came out sharp on defense, forcing James Harden to give up the ball and living with the rest of the Rockets making plays. They also found success in the previous games doubling Harden late in the shot clock, a tactic they effectively deployed again.
Los Angeles did a much better job of pushing the ball off Houston misses, getting easy points in transition. The Lakers dominated fastbreak points, scoring 19 to only two for the Rockets.
Anthony Davis at center has been the key adjustment in this series for the Lakers as the big man has operated much more efficiently with spacing on the floor. It was no different in Game 4 as Davis found little resistance hunting shots in the paint and clearing the glass.
The All-Star led the Lakers in scoring with 29 points while also pulling down 12 boards and dishing five assists. Davis was stellar on defense per usual, toggling between Houston’s shooters and contesting shots at the rim.
Rajon Rondo had himself another great performance, organizing the offense while LeBron James sat out and hitting timely shots to keep Houston at bay. The veteran recorded a near triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists), a sign that he is locked in when he is out on the floor.
Alex Caruso also was massive boost off the bench as his defensive energy and hustle seemed to frustrate and disrupt the Rockets offense. He also hit the biggest shot of the night, a three in the final minute that stopped what was a furious late-game Houston comeback.
With the rest of the supporting cast contributing, James was able to focus his energy on rebounding and playing defense. The King finished with a double-double of his own, scoring 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
What’s next for Lakers
Up 3-1, Los Angeles has a chance to close out the series on Saturday. On the flip side, Game 5 is do or die for Houston and they will likely come out with much more energy and focus than they did in Game 4.
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