LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/10 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

 
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:08 pm    Post subject: LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/10 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

Rockets Unlocked?... The Lakers have methodically adjusted to dull the Rockets point of attack and expose their small ball weaknesses on defense. The game plan really came alive late in the last game and it was carried through to tonight.

They’ve doubled where needed, made sharp rotations and changed out personnel. On offense, they’ve pushed tempo, crashed the glass from the perimeter and found cutters exploiting the ballwatching.

In the first half of the game tonight, the Lakers had a 27-13 advantage on the offensive glass. They held the Rockets to 3-13 shooting from three, while making 6-16 themselves and worked up a 16-lead by halftime.

In the third quarter, they pushed the lead to 22 points, not by dominating with LeBron and AD, but by coming at the Rockets with a balanced attack. Midway through the fourth once the Lakers had the lead up to 20+ points again, they tried to coast to the finish.

The Rockets trimmed the lead down to a two possession game in the final minute, but Alex Caruso drained a big three on one end and came up with a steal on the other. He plays the same way all game. The Lakers won 110-100.

“Just playing every possession like it’s the last possession of the game,” Caruso said.

The Rockets lost the previous two games whenever Harden sat. Tonight, they adjusted by changing when Harden would sit and rotate back in. In Harden’s 39 minutes, he was a +0. When he sat, Westbrook and company could not stay afloat.

Still, they will come out playing desperate in the next one and the Lakers need to match that.

“They’re not going to go down without a fight. That’s how they play,” Caruso said.


LeBron -- -- “We had our game plan and we executed that,” LeBron said. He mentioned they want to do it the full 48. I’m glad the team wasn’t totally happy after this one. That will keep their focus a little more for trying to close out the Rockets in the next one. Last game, LeBron had a dominant first half. Tonight, just 7 points on 3-7 shooting in the first half. The cutters were fast and frequent. LeBron had 5 assists in the half as he found a few of them. In the fourth, he ran a little mid-post clearout action and looked for shooters as he drew attention. But you could see when he took his foot off the gas as did the rest of the team. We settled into that slow, half-court post heavy offense. Settled for threes. And, ultimately, lost our defensive intensity and pace. As LeBron goes, the team goes. I think we actually did work on some stuff with that post play in the fourth quarter. When the intensity picks back up (hopefully!) in the next one, we’ll have that fast break attack, but also you may see us roll into some of those clear-outs and run offense through him in that manner when we can’t get the break going. Time to go for the kill. The Stats: He scored 16 points on 7-17 shooting (0-5 from three, 2-3 from the line) to go with 15 boards, 9 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnover and 2 fouls in 34 minutes. He was a +15.

Davis -- -- He had 10 points on 2-4 shooting in the first half. He was much more active on the glass in the first half. Several Lakers were also looking to crash at times. He and Rondo teamed up for a couple of lobs again. He’d score 19 in the second half to lead the Lakers. When we were cruising, he was getting some easy scores off passes (Kuz found him for a dunk, LeBron hit him leaking out for an And-1 layup). Later in the game, he sank a big shot with under 2 minutes left in the middle of the paint. The Laker offense was coasting, scoreless for a while and he finally helped snapped that. Defensively, he’s had the Westbrook assignment as the Rockets have tried to hide Russ like a center against teams. That works fine for the Lakers as AD can camp in the paint. The two of them have been talking a little bit as Westbrook is pretty cranky. They got a double tech late in this one. The Stats: He scored 29 points on 10-18 shooting (0-2 from three, 9-9 from the line) to go with 12 boards (3 offensive), 5 assists, 2 blocks, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls in 40 minutes. He was a +7.

Green -- -- He, like a few others, have noticed how effective you can be crashing the offensive glass from the perimeter. He had several offensive boards in the last game and killed the Rockets there again tonight with 3 more. One led to a KCP three, another he tipped in, the other he hit AD cutting for a dunk. He sank a couple of threes, one on a kickout, the other in transition. Defensively, the rotations were much sharper than the last one. The Stats: He scored 10 points on 4-9 shooting (2-5 from three) to go with 4 boards (3 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 fouls in 26 minutes. He was a +10.

Morris -- -- He got the start as neither of our centers saw anytime in this one. Some good moments defensively on traps and just closing out. The Lakers use his extra speed to help contain the Rockets. We held them to 38 points in the second half of the last one and 41 points in the first half of this one. The Lakers fell apart a bit in the second half tonight as the intensity was down and they gave up 59. I don’t think it was the Rockets adjusting. They try to get the ball to middle at times against our trapping and that can cause issues. Ideally, we match up our uber small lineup to minutes when Harden is sitting. Offensively, he sank a three trailing the break. He got a layup in the low post against Harden. We put Rondo in the post and Morris slipped a screen and Rondo hit him with a nice feed for another layup. The Stats: He scored 9 points on 4-10 shooting (1-4 from three) to go with 4 boards (2 offensive), 1 turnover and 4 fouls in 23 minutes. He was a +13.

Caldwell-Pope -- -- He sank a couple of threes, one off a cross-court feed to him open in the corner. Another off an offensive board from Green. He also hit a fade in the lane flashing to the ball. I would have liked to set him up a little more for some shots. The Lakers went a bit cold from three in the second half of this one going 3-14 while the Rockets sank 11-20. The Rockets again shot 42% from three and still lost. Some screening on the weakside for our shooters to set up skip passes might get KCP a couple more good looks to keep us from clanking from three. The Stats: He scored 10 points on 4-6 shooting (2-3 from three) to go with 2 boards, 1 steal, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in 30 minutes. He was a -1.

Kuzma -- -- Very quiet game from Kuz. You’d expect with 6 guys in double figures he’d be one of them, but he only made a couple of hoops tonight. He got a dunk on the break off a rejection and outlet by AD. His other score was a quick baseline attack in early offense for a layup. No boards unlike that last game. He had a sequence where he missed LeBron wide open on a cut, then later in the possession charged. Some good passing, though, despite missing that one. He hit AD on a jump pass from the three line for an easy one. The Stats: He scored 4 points on 2-6 shooting (0-1 from three) to go with 3 assists, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in 22 minutes. He was a +0.

Caruso -- -- Huge night for AC from start to finish. Let’s start with the dagger with 34 seconds left. LeBron found him open in the corner and AC swished it. It was a 5-point lead at the time, so the pressure was on as a quick Rocket score on the other end could have made it a one possession game. But Caruso knocked down the clutch shot and broke their backs. If that wasn’t enough, he ended them with a steal under the hoop on the other end. Great, all-around game. He had 9 points in the first half to be the Lakers second leading scorer. Some excellent cuts by Caruso. One as P.J. Tucker took his eye off him and LeBron found him for a layup cutting down the middle of the lane. Another as we inbounded and he caught his man sleeping for another layup. Later, he’d cut off AD’s post, notice his man didn’t stay with him and cut back under the hoop to take the pass for a layup. Defensively, great job going vertical to help on drives as well as stripping Harden on another where he went vertical, then went for the steal. He snuffed out several plays like that tonight. The Stats: He scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting (2-5 from three, 4-4 from the line) to go with 3 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover and 4 fouls in 30 minutes. He was a +1.

Rondo -- -- A near triple-double from Playoff Rondo tonight. He was a couple assists short. He went off the backboard with a pass to LeBron in the final minute of a close game. It was already over, but that wasn’t an easy finish for LeBron. I think it just kind of showed the Lakers mode in that fourth quarter in general. We also saw a rare couple of post-ups for Rondo. On one he hit a cutting Morris for a layup. He found AD in the air for a couple more assists. The Lakers had a 17-3 advantage on second-chance points tonight. Rondo, the smallest guy on the floor, had 3 offensive boards. Definitely reminded me of young Rondo doing that. Scoring wise, he curled in the paint for a layup, attacked off the three line for another, hit a 12-foot floater against the clock, banked in a jumper and hit another open three in the fourth. The Stats: He scored 11 points on 5-8 shooting (1-2 from three) to go with 10 boards (3 offensive), 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls in 29 minutes. He was a -4.

Horton-Tucker -- -- He came in the second quarter and had the bench on their feet. If you recall, he had a pretty good game against the Rockets prior to the start of the playoffs. His length on D allowed for some moments in that game. He used it well in his 7 minutes tonight where he was a +9. Offensively, he got the Lakers on their feet. First, he sank a wing three on a swing pass. Then, he attacked from the wing, stepped around Harden and finger rolled in a layup. LeBron and the bench went nuts for him. A great moment that gave the team some unexpected spark. Defensively, he had a couple of steals, as well. Interesting play, he doubled off Rivers on Harden, who passed to Rivers. Rivers has been scared to death to take a midrange shot, so he held the dribble up while wide open in that midrange looking around to pass and THT came from behind to knock it away from him. Sometimes, just take the midrange if it’s there. THT had another steal on a dig down from behind in the middle of the paint. Just the one stint from him, but a nice confidence boost and experience for the 19-year-old. “He’s a great learner, a fast learner,” AD said. He mentioned that J.R. is always in THT’s ear, letting him know what’s going on. The Stats: He scored 5 points on 2-5 shooting (1-3 from three) to go with 2 boards, 2 steals and 2 fouls in 7 minutes. He was a +9.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: The Caruso dagger three in the final minute was big. But we were in such cruise control all fourth quarter, slowing clock, not pushing pace that this game wasn’t really won there. Let’s go with the opening rather than the closing of this game. The Lakers got out to an 11-4 lead early. They were ready to pounce in this game and you could see it. Vogel had them dialed in on the game plan with their doubles and rotations early on defense. They were dominating the boards on both ends, adjusting there and improving by the game. And, they were pushing pace whenever possible. So we knew what we wanted to do from the start, brought the right energy and had Houston on their heels. We’ve increasingly imposed our game on Houston and they’re losing more ground by the game. Don’t be fooled by the fourth quarter tonight. It wasn’t as much the Rockets increasing their intensity, changing personnel or executing a new game plan. It was the Lakers not sticking with theirs as soon as they built a 20+ point midway through the fourth. I suspect the Rockets will try to replicate that fourth quarter, but be met by renewed focus and intensity by the Lakers.

Key Substitution: Let’s go with THT. Why not? The Lakers had the energy going and we sat Rondo and brought in THT to run with Morris, LeBron, Green and AC. We’d later leave him out there while LeBron sat. Interesting to see Vogel give the rookie a look. He played well against the Rockets during our deep bench action at the end of the season. We aren’t going to leave him on an island defensively. We’ll send doubles if it’s a dangerous situation. And he’s actually good in those doubles because of that massive wingspan. THT was a +9 in his 7 minutes and it seemed to throttle up the intensity a little more as the bench was on their feet. We probably could have used him in the fourth tonight because the energy was low, but might as well keep the rookie’s confidence high after his successful stint.

Key Stat: The Lakers had a 12-1 advantage on the offensive glass. They’ve secured the defensive boards from the weakside corner crashes. Then, they’ve come at them from all points on the other end. The Lakers had a 52-26 advantage on the glass. I don’t care what your strengths are as a team, if you give up that big of a difference, you are going to lose.

Coach’s Challenge: With a minute left in the first quarter, Houston challenged a perimeter foul as Green held and bumped AD. Total waste of the challenge. It was unsuccessful. Vogel challenged a continuation on a Westbrook And-1 in the fourth quarter. It was also unsuccessful.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:09 pm    Post subject:

First!

Did not see Kuzma write up at first.

I blame the players for the fourth quarter let down not the coaching staff. As stated by DB, the players stopped following the plan in the fourth. Sloppy passing, fouling, not running them off the three point line gave the Rockets life. Can’t do that again.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:19 pm    Post subject:

THT getting minutes in the middle of a playoff game with not a huge lead and producing was hype as hell
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:27 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Feeling good about this series, and Vogel's decision making. Playoff Rondo is real, I'm starting to realize. GOOD! LBJ and AD dominant as always, good to see Green back in his game a bit this time. Big kudos to THT and AWESOME game by AC!

Keep it up Lakers!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:24 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB. Great as always. WTF was Lebron doing during the Rocket run in the 4th. He put gas on their fire.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:45 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB!

Houston - at least their fans - wanted us. Well, they got us.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:40 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Good to see substantial contributions from everybody who played (except Kuz this time). Vogel has made good adjustments the last two games and deserves credit for trusting in Rondo and giving THT a chance. I'm sure he has seen progress and effort from both Rondo and THT in their practice sessions.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:53 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB!

Lakers were dominant for 40 minutes. This team is very good.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:38 am    Post subject:

Starting Morris helped the Lakers to be more active on both ends right away.

Funny is that some that we are playing small ball we were not small at all, with Davis (6-11, 7-6 wingspan), Lebron (6-9, 250) Morris (6-8 240). That is a lot of power and size there - The Lakers are still a legit big team there that could have played that lineup 10-20 years ago as well.

It is just smaller than when you go with McGee, but it is not a huge difference, as what McGee does on offense and D, AD can do with his length and wingspan. What Morris can do on D and on offense especially, McGee can not.

It will be interesting to see if we continue with this moving forward even if we get past Houston. This series is not over by any means, and the Lakers need to focus only on Houston. But I am wondering if Frank sees the benefits longterm of keeping Morris as a starter as he has the ability to give the Lakers a lot more transition chances on offense, and also gives the Lakers much better floor spacing on offense.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:00 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB.

The Lakers are built different for real. That "small ball" starting lineup should terrify Doc Rivers. They are playing the Clippers style. Harden got his 21 points, but he shot 2-11 and a bunch of BS free throws. Bron and Kawhi will cancel each other out. What Vogel did to Harden and Dame - he can do to PG13. Harden looked like his spirit left his body by the 3rd quarter.

What made me smile is the cameras were on specifically on Dwight Howard and Javelle McGee. Probably expecting them to be sulking. I saw them laughing, joking around and supporting their teammates. That's huge. Team chemistry >>>

Our bigs will be well rested for if/when they are needed for the Clippers.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:15 am    Post subject:

Another great game summary DB.

I watched some Rockets post game interviews - not surprisingly their big mantra is "we gotta do what we did in the fourth"

They had zero answers really re what happened first 3 quarters other than citing to a "lack of spirit"
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:20 am    Post subject:

Vogel is running circles around MDA. He doesn't know how to adjust. He only knows to run and shoot 3s.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:55 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:45 am    Post subject:

wolfpaclaker wrote:
Starting Morris helped the Lakers to be more active on both ends right away.

Funny is that some that we are playing small ball we were not small at all, with Davis (6-11, 7-6 wingspan), Lebron (6-9, 250) Morris (6-8 240). That is a lot of power and size there - The Lakers are still a legit big team there that could have played that lineup 10-20 years ago as well.

It is just smaller than when you go with McGee, but it is not a huge difference, as what McGee does on offense and D, AD can do with his length and wingspan. What Morris can do on D and on offense especially, McGee can not.

It will be interesting to see if we continue with this moving forward even if we get past Houston. This series is not over by any means, and the Lakers need to focus only on Houston. But I am wondering if Frank sees the benefits longterm of keeping Morris as a starter as he has the ability to give the Lakers a lot more transition chances on offense, and also gives the Lakers much better floor spacing on offense.


Yes, our small ball is bigger than their small ball. The Rockets try to prevent dribble penetration with their small ball. Our doubles are trying to do the same with Harden.

If you don't use the height, you end up playing small. So on D with our McGee lineup, we were able to use it somewhat where we prevented some driving to the lane by Harden without doubling. Or if they tried to iso on McGee on a switch he could stick with players reasonably. But if he could not on those iso situation (or got worse with the ankle), then we start to lose some advantage there. On O, though, if you are not able to get offensive boards or set up lob plays over the top of the D, then you are playing small. And we played way too small on O. Some of that maybe that we schemed kind of poorly to take advantage of that.

But with Morris, we just made sure everyone understood the small ball rules. Who to double, who not to, where to rotate from where. Who to leave open in scramble situations and we're very good at scrambling. The Rockets tried to adjust by playing Harden against our Morris-led micro ball lineups more instead of leaving Westbrook out there to run the show and kill them. We still hurt them when he was off the court...but had we not coasted, the numbers would show we hurt them when he was on the court up until that last point. So that was key.

I think also our small ball lineups were also learning to play bigger. We crashed the boards from different positions and took advantage of that small interior to really hurt them. Rondo's been able to eek out a couple of lobs per game to AD in the half court. So we're figuring it out.

Adjustments to our "small" ball I expect: More cutting off ball from Westbrook instead of standing on the perimeter for us to recover. More trying to get the ball to the middle of the floor after a double to set up the 4-on-3 sequences. Probably more Rivers at guard since D'Antoni liked what he gave them (we need to attack him on the other end). Better rebounding if they can. They got destroyed. Maybe more full-court pressure...but I don't know if their legs can take that. But when we got lazy, they might think they exposed something there so they could go back to it...plus they played more desperate. They will try to come out with the energy they had in the fourth and we need to meet that head on and wear them down.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:50 am    Post subject:

danzag wrote:
Vogel is running circles around MDA. He doesn't know how to adjust. He only knows to run and shoot 3s.


I will say, also, his roster only gives him one style. And adding Westbrook into that style is even more problematic.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:02 pm    Post subject:

DancingBarry wrote:
danzag wrote:
Vogel is running circles around MDA. He doesn't know how to adjust. He only knows to run and shoot 3s.


I will say, also, his roster only gives him one style. And adding Westbrook into that style is even more problematic.


Even when he was with the Lakers, he only knew one style. Could not figure out how to use Pau Gasol.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:12 pm    Post subject:

Laker7 wrote:
DancingBarry wrote:
danzag wrote:
Vogel is running circles around MDA. He doesn't know how to adjust. He only knows to run and shoot 3s.


I will say, also, his roster only gives him one style. And adding Westbrook into that style is even more problematic.


Even when he was with the Lakers, he only knew one style. Could not figure out how to use Pau Gasol.


Yes, it's a match made in heaven now.

Did he checkmate Morey or did Morey checkmate him?
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