Following a discouraging Game 1 loss, the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back in Game 2 led by the efforts of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the bench.
Well, that was a pretty good win. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets on Sunday by a score of 117-109. Los Angeles moves to 39-7 when they allow 110 points or less on the season. LeBron and AD were majestic as they both looked much more aggressive on offense and punished the Rockets in the paint like this play by LeBron:
James finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists while shooting 10-17 from the field.
For his part, Anthony Davis finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 15-24 from the field. Davis was much more assertive attacking the rim as evidenced by this highlight play:
Davis punished the Rockets all night long after his passive Game 1.
The Lakers as a whole attacked the paint with much more success than the previous game. LA had 54 points in the paint in Game 2 compared to 40 in Game 1.
The purple and gold also showcased their rebounding prowess in this game finishing with 49 rebounds and limiting the Rockets to 43. That’s a 10 rebound difference for Houston compared to Game 1 (Houston finished with 53 rebounds in that game). Those are the types of details that swing games into your direction.
Another positive take away from this game was a player that I lambasted in my previous article: Rajon Rondo. Playoff Rondo arrived (at least for this game) and contributed with excellent playmaking and some defense. He finished with a game-high +28 and helped his team execute offensively. His impact was felt immensely. Here’s an interesting stat from ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry:
My apologies to Mr. Rondo. Let’s see if he can carry over his excellent play from this game for the rest of the playoffs.
Let’s move on to one of the most inconsistent aspects of this team: the supporting cast. Sure, Rondo played very well, but the rest of the team also had a great game. Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris chipped in with 13 and 16 points. Danny Green made his threes (3-5 from deep) so let’s see if this means that he’s turning a corner on his recent play.
Check this out: the Laker bench shot 17-30 from the field in Game 2, which comes at around 56.7% from the field (You can thank my good friend Beau Estes over at Turner Sports for this great stat).
Compare that to Game 1 (the Laker bench shot 33.3% from the field) and you have probably the key difference from Game 1 to Game 2: bench shooting.
Still, the Laker bench has been a little above average all season long (they ranked 11th in scoring and 11th in fg%) but in the playoffs, their scoring has gone down by 4ppg (39.3ppg in the regular season vs 35.4ppg in the playoffs) and their field goal percentage dropped to 42.3% (compared to 45.7% in the regular season).
This may be due to better competition in the playoffs, but the Laker bench needs to continue having performances like they had in Game 2 if they want to make life easier for their two superstars.
Not all was good and dandy in this game though. The Lakers entered halftime with a 67-54 lead and seemed in full control.
However, Houston punched them in the mouth in the 3rd quarter as they went on a 14-0 to open the second half. Their three-point shooting was incredible as they made 22 three-pointers compared to LA’s 12. Recently I wrote about how Houston can burn you if you allow them to make more than 15 threes.
After entering the second half with a 13 point lead, the Los Angeles Lakers went into the 4th quarter facing a 92-90 deficit. The Rockets outscored the Lakers 41-23 in the third quarter mostly due to their three-point barrage.
Houston made 9 of their 22 three-pointers in the 3rd quarter. If there is one positive takeaway from that quarter is that the purple and gold managed to withstand that heavy attack and pulled off the win in the end. LA outscored Houston 27-17 in the 4th quarter and tied the series at 1.
These are the type of performances that inspire confidence in your fanbase and showcase the true heart of a champion. Let’s see how Houston responds in Game 3. Buckle up.