LA Lakers gambled with a certain win at one point, but eventually, they defeated the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference semis, 117-109.
The purple and gold had a 21-point lead during the second period while entering the final sequence with a two-point deficit. It took some grinding, but they would eventually outpower the Rockets to snatch a very important win.
“We were able to turn the ship and make the adjustments,” said LeBron James, who was superb last night.
LBJ needed just one assist to reach a triple-double, as he had 28 points and 11 boards besides nine dimes. James was 10-for-17 from the field, and a dominant force on the court, making a massive impact at the start of the fourth period. He boosted the morale of the entire team with several moves, stopping Houston’s swing.
“I started the fourth quarter, AD is on the bench. My teammates looked at me, I tried to be aggressive.. every possession dictates a different result, and I was able to capitalize on the floor.”
The Lakers started to move away during the middle of the first period, before reaching a maximum advantage 1:21 inside the second, 42-21, after LeBron’s dunk. They slowed down a little bit after that, but Frank Vogel’s side still had a nice gap at the halftime, 67-51.
Rockets came out roaring in the third, scoring 14 straight buckets, and eventually reaching the LAL. In that period alone, the result was 41-23 for Houston, and they entered the final 12 minutes with a two-point edge.
As we said, James took away their momentum, and the solid defense of his teammates picked up where he left, decreasing the shooting percentage of the rivals in that sequence to 31.6%. Houston made just two downtown hits in 12 attempts.
“They just came out and played harder than us, I feel like,” James Harden said. “In the second half, we woke up and took the lead. We’ve just got to have that intensity at the beginning of the game, and we’ll be all right.”
The Beard had 27 points and seven assists. Rockets’ entire starting lineup, apart from Russell Westbrook, played well, with the problem being in the replacements. Danuel House Jr. scored 13 points, and he was the only one who delivered buckets off the bench. Jeff Green, Ben McLemore, and Austin Rivers ended with zero points, whooting 0-for-5, zero rebounds, and three turnovers combined.
Eric Gordon hit six threes, for 24 points, PJ Tucker had a double-double with 18 points and 11 boards, Robert Covington 17.
Russell Westbrook was under the expected level of play. The former MVP scored 10 points, had 13 boards, and missed 11 of his 15 shots.
“Right now, I’m just running around,” he said. “Something is my fault, some were missed calls, but it is on me,” he added when asked about the turnovers.
Houston scored 20 threes in the first three quarters, and a radical drop in that aspect of the game during the fourth was the main reason why they haven’t won. In general, D’Antoni’s crew was 22-for-53, which wasn’t so bad, but a poor final period cost them a win, and a two-game lead.
Up next, these two sides meet on Tuesday. Houston showed that they have everything needed to take down the Lakers, who, on the other side, avoided losing their second straight match. With 0-2, it would be very hard for them to come back into the series, regardless of the way AD and James play.
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.