LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western semis, 110-100.
With this triumph, the Lakers are near the conference finals for the first time since 2010. Still, for Frank Vogel, nothing is sure, even though his team has a huge lead.
“We’re up 3-1, but we have to stay the course. Stay the more desperate team,” Vogel said.
His Lakers exploited the size advantage throughout the entire game, eventually picking up twice as more rebounds than the rivals. LAL had 52, while Rockets grabbed just 26. LeBron and Anthony Davis alone had more than Houston.
Still, even though they trailed 23 points midway through the final period, and were in constant deficit, the Rockets found a way to endanger the purple and gold. They would put up an 18-2 run, cutting the gap to just seven points, 103-96. From that moment on, the temperature on the floor increased until Alex Caruso made a three with 35.2 seconds to go, putting an end on this contest.
“A guy we know we can count on, (that) doesn’t make many mistakes on the floor,” said James on Caruso and his three.
Caruso ended the night with 16 points in 30 minutes, two blocks, and one steal. He was bringing extra energy to the floor, along with Rajon Rondo, whose presence since coming back following an injury is felt enormously. Rondo was near a triple-double with 11 points, 10 boards, and 8 assists.
LeBron was also near a triple-double, being shy just one dime. He had 16 buckets, 15 rebounds, and two steals. Unlike so many times this year, he played 34 minutes.
Anthony Davis was the one who hurt the Rockets the most. The Eyebrow used his size advantage to score under the rim, ending the night with 29 points, 10-for-18 from the field, adding 12 boards and five assists.
Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 10 each.
Houston’s biggest star, James Harden, had a poor night for his standards. The Beard scored 21 points, with 10 assists, but with just two hits in 11 attempts. The majority of his buckets came from the free-throw line, where he went 20 times.
“All I heard was ‘roof roof’" 😂🐶
A dog crashed AD’s postgame presser. pic.twitter.com/59kkpteLNO
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 11, 2020
Rusell Westbrook had 25 points but without a usual contribution in other aspects of the game. The former MVP had just three boards and assists. Eric Gordon added 19 buckets, Austin Rivers 14.
PJ Tucker didn’t score in 33 minutes on the court, missing all of his four shots, and grabbing just three boards. Robert Covington, on the other hand, had just three points.
”A lack of spirit. It seems like we got down& lost our way a little bit. Some guys came in, Austin Rivers came in with a lot of spark, Ben McLemore-Russell started turning up the heat big time. That’s what it’s going to take for 48 minutes,” said Mike D’Antoni.
The Rockets had just one offensive rebound in 48 minutes, and that is unacceptable. Their shooting percentage wasn’t very bad, 43.1%, but D’Antoni’s unit made only 28 hits, 14 of them three-pointers.
With their back against the wall, Houston needs to do some soul searching and stop this negative skid. Otherwise, they will leave the bubble pretty soon.
As for the Lakers, they are taking it one step at the time. With Rondo included, this team has a much deeper backup, due to his quality, and above all, experience. LAL waited to reach the West Finals 10 years, which was, by the way, the last time they won the title. Phil Jackson, Kobe, and Gasol defeated Rondo and the Celtics in the Finals back then.
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.