The Los Angeles Lakers were able to close out the Houston Rockets in Game 5, dominating them in a 119-96 victory to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010.
The Lakers got off to a quick start, nailing three of their first four looks from downtown and getting out into early transition to race out to a 13-2 lead. LeBron James was aggressive offensively, overpowering defenders to get easy shots in the paint and draining a three of his own to force a second Rockets timeout.
Anthony Davis was unusually quiet from the field, not attempting a shot for a prolonged stretch, but he did a good job of getting teammates involved. Houston seemed to wake up a bit after seeing a few threes go down, but Los Angeles was up 35-20 after the first.
Unlike the opening quarter, the focus was not there for the Lakers as they allowed the Rockets to climb back into the game behind some sloppy possessions. They were able to settle back down and retake the momentum after sharpening up defensively and pushed the lead back into double digits.
Although L.A. went back to executing on both ends, Houston was able to hang around thanks to James Harden who finally got going scoring the basketball. Despite the lapses in effort, the Lakes went into halftime up 62-51.
It was a three-point shooutout to begin the third with each team exchanging shots from the outside, allowing the Lakers to keep the advantage. It was reminiscent of the first quarter Los Angeles, knocking down shots and playing hard-nosed defense to go on a 15-0 run.
The Rockets had no answers on either end for the Lakers, unable to make a real dent in the deficit. The role players for the purple and gold continued to hit from beyond the arc and they went into the final period up 95-69.
Despite having complete control of the game, L.A. refused to let up on either end and ballooned the lead to as high as 30 points. The Rockets made a small run, but the result was never in doubt as the team cruised the rest of the quarter.
Matters did get chippy as Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook exchanged words. A few minutes later, Rondo’s brother William and Westbrook began to shout at each other, resulting in the former being asked to leave the game due to violating rules that have been outlined for player guests.
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