Rockets Implode As Lakers Move On
The Los Angeles Lakers finished off a dominant Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets with a 119-96 win in Game 5 to win the series 4-1.
The Lakers are now headed back to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2010.
Here are 3 takeaways from this Western Conference Semifinal matchup.
1. The Lakers are peaking
The Lakers arrived in Orlando with the Western Conference's top seed all but locked up but they still struggled in eight seeding games, going 3-5.
Those struggles seem like a thing of the past now.
The Lakers appear to be peaking at the right time heading into the Western Conference finals, now 8-2 in the playoffs and winning both their series against the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets in 5 games.
Their performance was so dominant against the Rockets in Game 5 that they set a franchise record for most three-pointers made in a playoff game with 19.
This comes after they had set a previous playoff record in Game 4 against the Blazers with 17.
The Lakers shot 52.7% from the field and 51.4% from three against the Rockets in Game 5.
The sign that they can continue to set new franchise highs in each passing round is a sign that the team is clicking at the perfect time as they head into the Western Conference Finals.
2. LeBron James is inevitable
It might sound like a broken record, but LeBron James is still awesome.
James came out on fire with 11 points in the first quarter and finished with a team-leading 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
For the series he averaged 25.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.8 blocks.
Now James heads to his first Conference Final out West after playing in 10 Eastern Conference Finals and it doesn't appear that he is content with this being the end of the road for himself or the Lakers this season.
3. Where does Houston go from here?
After falling short to the Golden State Warriors in four of the previous five postseasons, the Rockets made a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook last offseason as Kevin Durant departed the Warriors.
The hope was that the move would be the final move to push the Rockets over the hump and into the NBA Finals for the first time in the James Harden era.
That will not be the case, at least for this season.
The key question now becomes what will the Rockets do this offseason, having to foot the bill of a superstar tandem of Harden and Westbrook that was only able to win one game in this series.
Westbrook in particular struggled this series, averaging 19.8 points while shooting 40.7% from the field, 24.4% from three-point range, and 56.7% from the free throw line.
In Game 5 he was only able to muster 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting before getting into it with the brother of Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo late in the fourth quarter.
This continues a disturbing trend for the Rockets, who can't seem to win the big one. In their last seven elimination games, the Rockets have lost six.
Will they hold serve or look to shake up the roster again this offseason?
That is the most important question the Rockets face as their season comes to an end.