LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – Friday night the Houston Rockets overwhelmed the Los Angeles Lakers with their speed in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, so now is the time to see if the Lakers will attempt to accelerate and maybe go to a small formation.
Lakers big man JaVale McGee got his usual start in the middle, but only played 12 minutes in the Rockets’ 112-97 win. And backup center Dwight Howard only logged 11 minutes, which means a real center played less than half the game.
And there may still be too many central minutes in this series with the Rockets trotting PJ Tucker 6ft 5 as their five man. Lakers star Anthony Davis doesn’t like playing in the middle, but he wouldn’t face a traditional big in this match.
Davis is willing to move from power forward in this series, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“We will watch the tape and see what approach we have for Game 2 and go from there,” Lakers manager Frank Vogel said Friday night.
James Harden scored 36 points on a 12-for-20 shot and Russell Westbrook added 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists for a plus / minus 15 box.
LeBron James, who went to zero in the fourth quarter and finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, is thrilled with the speed with which the little Rockets have played and called Game 1 a contest of sensation.
“It’s like in the early 2000s when the St. Louis Rams were the biggest show on the ground,” said James. “People always said how they would explore them, explore them and explore them. Until they walked into the field and saw Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Az Hakim and all those guys. And they said to me: “We have to play them again”. Because you can’t simulate that speed in any way. Getting on the track and playing Game 1 will give you a good feeling. “
The Rockets forced 17 turnovers, scoring 27 points.
“We can’t turn the ball against this team,” said Anthony Davis after a night of 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Davis said the Lakers need to use their size as an advantage and put more emphasis on attacking the offensive glass. The forward star took down only two aces on the offensive side.
Hitting the offensive glass could prove beneficial to the Lakers, but Harden doesn’t believe the Rockets can be moved easily.
“I don’t know why people keep saying we’re small,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re 7 feet tall. If you have no heart, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t have a dog in you, it doesn’t matter. We have guys who are able to change and play different positions and protect different guys on the pitch. So it doesn’t matter how tall you are. If you have heart and are a competitor, you will be out there on the pitch. “
Danny Green continues to struggle with his shooting and find a consistent pace. He shot 4 for 12 and 2 for 7 from 3 points in Game 1. During a dead ball in the fourth quarter, Green tried to raise some shots and Westbrook didn’t make it.
“[I’m telling] them that we’re here, “Westbrook said of the message he was sending.” They weren’t [giving] no extra shots. You can fire those shots before the game tomorrow. At least to me personally, my kids know that I don’t want to give any advantage, not anything. Let him know we’re here and every time he throws the ball, we’ll be right there. “
There was no panic after the game between the Lakers, who are +310 to win everything at BetMGM. James and Davis were cold-tempered. They lost the first game of the Portland series in the opening round and then won the next four. They are confident that things can be resolved.
With only one day between games, they will have to hurry to find some solutions for Game 2.
“[One day off has] it’s been very challenging, just like everything else has been challenging here, “said James.” And it is what it is. There is no excuse. Obviously the body takes a toll, but I get straight to work right after the game. Win, lose or draw, I started the treatment already in the locker room and when I get back to the hotel I will have more. Tonight I will be up late and I hope I can rest for a while tomorrow during the day after our session. But I have just started to prepare for match 2. “