Lakers Push Rockets To The Brink
It might be the second round, but the Lakers are replicating the same blueprint that got them past the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
After losing Game 1 to Houston, the Lakers have now won three straight, putting the Rockets on the brink of elimination after Thursday's 110-100 victory.
Here are the key takeways from Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal:
1. Lakers depth shines through
Anthony Davis was his usual dominant-self on Thursday, posting 29 points and 12 rebounds, while LeBron James added 16 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists.
But it was the non-superstars who came up big for LA in Game 4.
Six Lakers scored in double figures, including a combined 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists from their reserve backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso.
Rookie guard Talen Horton-Tucker even got in on the action, scoring the first 5 points of his playoff career in the first half.
In addition, the Lakers have now won the bench scoring battle in all four games of the series.
2. Failure to launch
While the Lakers offense received a boost from seemingly every player who touched the court, their defense is what allowed them to push their lead north of 20 points in the third quarter.
The Rockets only managed to score 41 points in the first half, while connecting on a mere 12 field goal attempts.
James Harden, the NBA's scoring champ for the last three seasons, shot 2-for-11 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point range, finishing with 21 points, 16 of which came at the free throw line.
For the second consecutive game, the Lakers defense was able to keep the Rockets from hoisting their average of nearly 50 threes, as Houston only attempted 33 threes, three more than in Game 3.
The decrease in three-point attempts has also coincided with their decline in scoring in each game of the series. Houston put up 112 in Game 1, 109 in Game 2, 102 in Game 3, and now, 100 in Game 4.
3. Patrolling the paint
The Lakers benched starting center Javale McGee in favor of reserve forward Markieff Morris in order to "downsize" in Game 4.
However, the team still managed to play big.
The Lakers grabbed 52 rebounds, twice the amount of the Rockets' 26, which allowed them to offset the Rockets making five more three-pointers and attempting 23 more free throws.
Coming into Game 4, the Lakers were averaging 41.7 rebounds per game to the Rockets 35.3.
Game 4 was the third straight game the Lakers have won the rebounding battle, and the second consecutive game they have won it by double digits.