The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to pull ahead in Game 3 after evening their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers managed to bounce back from yet another Game 1 loss by making some much-needed adjustments to secure a 117-109 win. Although they were led by the tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis combining for 62 points, 21 rebounds and 13 assists, the improved bench play and efforts on defense proved to be the deciding factor.
While head coach Frank Vogel decided to stick with the same starting lineup in Game 2, Davis may need to slide in at the five with JaVale McGee dealing with left ankle trouble. McGee is experiencing lingering soreness and considered questionable for Game 3.
Dion Waiters (sore groin) is doubtful.
Regardless, of how it unfolds at the center position, Davis has made it clear the Lakers will be looking to play at their own pace.
The Lakers also benefited from the stellar play of their bench trio in Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris. The 3-point eruption from Morris was part of efforts to make his presence felt in a series that benefits his skillset.
“I had zero stats across the board, so I felt like I had to be a little more aggressive. This is the best series for me to play a lot of minutes,” Morris said. “I fit the small-ball mold for this team. We just went out there and fought hard. Got to tip our hats to them because they fought hard back, but we stood and fought back.”
Meanwhile, the Rockets’ duo had turned into a one-man show with James Harden doing most of the heavy lifting due to Russell Westbrook’s struggles on offense. Despite his underwhelming play, head coach Mike D’Antoni has indicated that he will be relying on Westbrook to tip the scales back in their favor.
Houston saw a silver lining in their Game 2 loss that was highlighted by the 21-point deficit they erased with a productive third quarter. D’Antoni feels there is plenty for them to build off of and is optimistic about finding holes in L.A.’s “desperate” approach on defense.
“Different teams have tried it. We showed a couple things we could’ve done a little bit better. But at the same time, zones are a desperation thing that I’m not a big believer in. I think offensively we should kill it,” D’Antoni said.
Not only would a victory in Game 3 put the Lakers in the control of the series, it could also help stir up any potential doubts the Rockets may have moving forward
Lakers (1-1) vs. Rockets (1-1)
6:00 p.m. PT, Sep. 8, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris, Rajon Rondo
Projected Rockets Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: James Harden
SF: Eric Gordon
PF: Robert Covington
C: PJ Tucker
Key Reserves: Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, Danuel House Jr., Ben McLemore
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