Los Angeles Lakers once again lost the opening game of their playoff series, this time against the Houston Rockets, 112-97.
The purple and gold didn’t look good at all, and that eventually resulted in a defeat, their third consecutive against the Rockets this season.
“I don’t think we played as hard as we could and that falls on nobody’s shoulders but our own,” said Alex Caruso.
His team played below expectations, and there are two reasons for that. The first is that Caruso himself, and the rest of the supporting players failed to fulfill their role of helping Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Apart from the two superstars, Houston didn’t suffer any damage from other players on the court. And that appears to be the biggest problem for Frank Vogel and his side throughout the playoffs.
Against the Trail Blazers, who had multiple problems, that didn’t create too much trouble, but the Rockets will use this to their advantage for sure.
Turnovers were the second problem for the Lakers, who had 17 of them, with the note that the Rockets scored 27 buckets after them. It is almost one-quarter of their points in tonight’s match, which is a lot.
“It seems like they scored on every turnover we had…27 points off turnovers, which kills us.” Anthony Davis explained.
The Lakers were near Houston at the start of the final sequence, but a 16-3 run they allowed, was something that separated the two sides, handing the Rockets a valuable victory.
Anthony Davis had 25 points, 14 boards, and three steals and blocks apiece. The Eyebrow show 10-of-16 from the field. LeBron scored 20, grabbing 8 rebounds and recording seven assists.
Caruso scored 14 in 16 minutes, and Danny Green 10, which was about it with the Lakers’ double-digit scorers.
Unlike their rivals, Houston had that third piece – Eric Gordon. The 31-year old guard had 23 points, in 34 minutes, 7-of-14 from the field, and was on the mark in all his six free-throw attempts.
“I don’t get why people keep saying we are small. I don’t care if you’re 7 feet, if you don’t have heart it doesn’t matter.”
James Harden on the Rockets small-ball approach. pic.twitter.com/aCoOrgluoo
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 5, 2020
James Harden had a team-high 36 buckets, with a very good percentage from the field, 12-for-20. Russell Westbrook was 10-of-24 for 24 points, but with nine rebounds and six assists.
“We’re small out there so we’ve got to be scrappy,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got to play hard.”
Houston’s head coach Mike D’Antoni was very happy following the game, and he joked with the reporters.
“We won on the road which we didn’t do against Oklahoma City, so that’s something,” he said, thinking on the formal hosting of the event, with the Lakers having the home-court advantage.
We need to underline Houston’s excellent defensive effort. They held the Lakers to just 18 points over the final 12 minutes, which is a massive success. Over the recent few games, D’Antoni’s boys are showing great improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
“It’s our defense,” James Harden said. “That’s what’s going to get us to where we want to go. I keep preaching it. But defensively, if we’re engaged … we got something.”
Turnovers, shutting down LeBron, and more importantly, preventing the other Lakers’ players form stepping in, was today’s recipe for the win.
Game 2 is set for Sunday. The Lakers hope to see the history repeating itself and replay the series against the Trail Blazers. Meanwhile, the Rockets want to avoid that and make an upset similar to the one Miami did against the Bucks.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.