Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Rockets – Game 4 – 9/10/2020

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(#1) Los Angeles Lakers (7-2) |  (#4) Houston Rockets (5-6)

 

For three and a half quarters the Los Angeles Lakers were grilling barbeque chicken against the Houston Rockets. The head grill masters were once again Anthony Davis and LeBron James as the Lakers defeated the Rockets 110-100.

 

The win put the Lakers up 3-1 in their Western Conference semifinals series against the Rockets.

While the Lakers dynamic duo led the team, at one point, to a 23-point lead in the third quarter, it was the Lakers bench mob who played a pivotal role in Game 4. Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker came up huge for Los Angeles. “THT” had 5 points, but they came on consecutive first-half possessions. His energy and hustle gave the Rockets problems and contributed to the Lakers 57-41 first-half lead.

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers bench scored 36 points compared to the Rockets bench, who scored 32. But the scoring wasn’t the only impact the bench had. They were the Lakers’ energy on the defensive end, for the majority of the game, and helped the Lakers get easy buckets. The biggest bucket was a Caruso three-pointer to give the Lakers a 10-point lead with 34 seconds left in the game,

 

“Overall, it’s a heck of a win for our group,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Again, we’re not going to be comfortable playing against this team with the firepower they have.”

“We know we’re in a big hole now, but the next game is the game we’ve got to win,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ll go out, and if we lay it on the line like the way we did in the fourth quarter, we’ll be fine.”

 

The Lakers’ size and athleticism once again gave the Rockets issues, outrebounding Houston by 26.

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: USA Today

Davis continued to show that he is the most dominant player on the court. He scored 29 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and had five assists. He controlled the key, was once again deadly from the mid-rage, and came up big when the Lakers needed a big bucket to seal the victory.

Davis was also not too pleased with the Lakers fourth quarter, which they allowed the Rockets to get within seven points with under 2 minutes left in the game,

“Turnovers,” Davis said. “We had too many turnovers.”

James once again almost messed around and had a triple-double. The King’s line on Thursday nights was 16 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists. He made it look easy as the Lakers were cruising most of the game.

A perfect example of this was in the third quarter. James grabbed a defensive rebound, turned, and fired a 70-foot soccer throw-in style pass to Davis, with the ball sailing over the five Rocket heads who were jogging back on defense. Davis caught the pass in stride and laid the ball in for an easy bucket. The ball never touched the ground.

But even James acknowledged that the Lakers have to do a better job closing out the Rockets. “Obviously, we’ve got to be better,” James said. “We’ve got to close out games the right way.”

 

The Rockets don’t seem to have an answer for the Lakers intensity, size or defense. The Lakers have seemed to have found a way to neutralize Harden and Westbrook.

 

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Houston did not play with the same type of aggression or passion for the first three-quarters of Game 4. Then late in the third quarter and the fourth, they turned it on.

After the game, James Harden was asked why his team was flat.

“Good question,” Harden said, later adding, “there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

Harden finished with 21 points, ten assists, and four rebounds. Westbrook, who finished with 25 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds, was once again ineffective as a shooter, with the Lakers allowing him to shoot jumpers all game.

The Lakers can’t get cocky heading into Game 6. Houston is one of the few franchises that has overcome a 3-1 series deficit. They did it against the Clippers in the second round of the 2015 playoffs. That Clippers team was led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.

 

Game 5 will be on Saturday with tipoff at 5:00 pm. You can watch the game on ESPN.

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Joe Arrigo

Twitter: JoeArrigo

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