The Los Angeles Lakers were able to build upon their impressive Game 2 performance and win Game 3 against the Houston Rockets, 112-102.
The Rockets’ defense has been stingy all series long as they have made it a point to pack the paint and prevent the Lakers from using their size and length to dominate inside. However, the first quarter was a shootout as each team was able to execute in the half court and score with almost no problem.
LeBron James was a man on a mission as the superstar was more aggressive than usual hunting his own shots. James mixed in a flurry of hard-nosed drives and tough jumpers to score 29 points in the first half.
James was also an impact defender as he rotated over for a few highlight blocks, particularly in the second half that seemed to jumpstart the rest of Los Angeles’s offense. James finished the night with 36 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks.
Anthony Davis had himself another fantastic showing, once again shooting well in the midrange area and helping quarterback the defense. The second half featured the big man at center as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel opted to go smaller to help open up driving lanes on the offensive end.
The Lakers collectively held their breath after Davis took an inadvertent elbow to the side in a collision with Robert Covington, but fortunately he was able to close out the game. He recorded another double-double (26 points, 15 rebounds) while adding six assists.
While James and Davis were the backbone for Los Angeles, Rajon Rondo once again came up huge when the game was close. Rondo had a rough outing shooting in the first half, not able to capitalize on wide open looks Houston was happy to give him.
The fourth quarter was a completely different story as Rondo nailed two big threes to extend the lead and followed it up with a steal on James Harden for a layup. The veteran point guard outscored the Rockets bench by himself, pouring in 21 points to go along with nine assists.
Going small allows Los Angeles to rotate faster to Houston’s shooters while also allowing them to get out on the break sooner. This was apparent in the second half and something the team can hang their hats on.
What’s next for Lakers
Now up 2-1 in the series, the Lakers can not afford to let their foot off the gas pedal as the Rockets did lead for most of Game 3.
The defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters was the difference in this game, and they will need that same intensity if they want to take a commanding 3-1 lead after Game 4.
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