Houston Rockets took Game 1 of their series against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, 1112-97. Even though the Rockets played seven games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and had no time to recover properly, they would find a way to beat the No.1 seed in the West.
Like in the previous matches, Houston’s excellent defense was the key to win, as they limited the Lakers to just 18 points in the final period. The purple and gold couldn’t hit anything in the last 12 minutes, posting only 28.6% from the field, 6-for-21.
Harden and the crew opened the final period with a 16-3 run, which definitely dazzled the rivals, who were more or less, constantly behind throughout the entire game. After that burst, there was no way back for the LA team, who looked a bit deflated.
What was a problem for the Lakers is the fact that they didn’t have anyone apart from the LBJ-AD duo in the attack. James ended the night with 20 points, 8 boards, and seven assists, while Davis posted 25 buckets with 14 boards and three steals and assists each.
The next best thing was Alex Caruso, who scored 14 points. Danny Green had 10. For a long time, the experts claim that the Lakers need to have that third player who would be a sidekick to James and Davis, providing them some rest and freedom in certain moments. Both superstars spent 37 minutes on the floor last night, team-high.
James Harden was excellent, racking 36 points, 5 assists, shooting 12-for-20 from the field. Russell Westbrook added 24, 10-for-24, with 9 boards and six assists.
Besides the two former MVPs, Houston had Eric Gordon with 23 points. The shooting guard was carrying the team on his back in some parts of the contest, allowing Harden and Westbrook to rest for a while. Harden played 34, Westbrook 32 minutes.
Anthony Davis couldn’t make a difference against the small-ball Rockets’ lineup, and even though the 6-foot-8 Robert Covington guarded him, the Eyebrow’s advantage wasn’t exploited enough.
That fast lineup of the Rockets forced 17 turnovers from the rival’s side, which resulted in 27 points. Houston was more aggressive, attacking the basket, which is why they had more free throws, 27, compared to 19 by the Lakers.
Game 2 of this interesting series is set for this Sunday. 8:30 pm ET, in the Orlando bubble.