The Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 112-97 on Friday night to take a 1-0 series lead. James Harden was brilliant in game 1, scoring 36 points on 12-20 shooting, to lead the Rockets to a convincing win. Russell Westbrook added 24 points and 9 rebounds, and Eric Gordon scored 23 including 3-8 from deep.
The Lakers were led by Anthony Davis, who scored a very quiet 25 points, and Lebron James, who had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. The only other Laker in double figures was Danny Green, with 10. It was another lackluster game 1 performance for the top seeded Lakers, as they suffered their second straight opening game defeat in these playoffs. Lebron James was 0-3 in the 4th quarter and did not score.
Give credit to the Houston Rockets; coming into this series it was widely assumed they would be dominated by Los Angeles in the paint and on the boards. That was far from the case Friday night as the teams tied on the boards and Houston actually outscored the Lakers in the paint 42-40. The Rockets actually used defense and a much more balanced offensive attack to win this game, taking just one more 3 pt attempt than the Lakers going 14-39. That is a far cry from the 51 attempts per game they jacked up in round one.
After the game Lebron James seemed confident that they got feel for what to expect going forward saying “there’s no way you can simulate their speed, so getting out on the floor and having a game one gives you a good feel for it.” The Lakers, it seems, couldn’t keep up in game 1.
The Rockets have taken exception to the idea that playing small ball was a disadvantage defensively and on the boards and James Harden has this to say on that subject, “It doesn’t matter how tall you are. If you have the heart and you’re a competitor you can be out there on the court.” Added Westbrook, “we’re small out there so we’ve got to be scrappy, we’ve got to play hard.” They did just that on Friday night to take the 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 is Sunday and the Lakers will look to repeat their performance from round one against the blazers where they roared back in game 2 en route to winning 4 straight after dropping game 1. The Rockets will look to continue the momentum they built on Friday night and will need to get qmore of the same from their stars if they want to take a 2-0 lead on LA.
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP
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