LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/12 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings
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DancingBarry
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:43 pm    Post subject: LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/12 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

The Gentleman’s Sweep ... For the second straight round, the Lakers have completed the gentlemen’s sweep, losing the first, then winning the next four. To the Rockets, we bid you farewell, kind sirs.

The Lakers increasingly dominated the opponent in both their first two series. The Rockets would trail by as many as 30 points tonight as they were thoroughly picked apart in the 119-96 Laker win.

L.A. beat the Rockets at their own game -- even from the three-point line tonight as the Lakers made 19-37 from three. That’s 6 more threes than the Rockets sank. LeBron even said the ball had energy after the game.

Certainly, our “small” ball is bigger than others, but when we went to the micro ball with Morris at the C while Harden sat on the bench, that turned the series. The Rockets were boxed into a corner with a roster that could not adjust and a coach who did very little different. Morey and D’Antoni may have checkmated themselves in this series.

We were looking for adjustments from the Rockets. We saw a little of Harden in the post (they probably should have done more of that). We saw some attempts to get the ball middle against our double teams. The Rockets mentioned they wanted to run a little more, but that never transpired.

L.A. jumped them early. The Lakers pushed out to a 13-2 lead, forcing a timeout. They stretched it to a 23-7 lead, forcing another. The lead grew to 33-11 in the first quarter as the Rockets floundered and the Laker three shooting and pace was in their favor.

And then things went south for a moment. The Lakers turned the ball over. You could see Rondo barking at Kuzma about a missed rotation on D on another play. With a 35-17 lead, the Lakers gave up a 11-0 run as they transitioned to their micro ball unit (Harden did not sit). Vogel called a timeout as the 22-point lead was cut to 7.

In the huddle, Vogel reminded them it was a 48-minute game and to keep the hustle up.

By halftime, the Lakers had a 20-4 advantage on the break and an 11-point lead. Both Harden and LeBron would finish with 19 points each at the half. AD and Westbrook each had 6. Neither would play great in this one.

In the third quarter, the Rockets trimmed the lead early in the first couple minutes, but the Lakers went on a 9-0 run to force a timeout. Just like the first half, they dominated again. The Rockets went scoreless for 5 minutes as the Lakers extended to a 22-point lead again midway through the quarter. The team has done this all season, just hold teams scoreless for long stretches. They pushed the lead to 30 in the first couple minutes of the fourth and cruised to an easy win with some garbage time included.

And with that, we’re back to the Western Conference Finals and possibly the series everyone has been waiting for this year -- Lakers vs. Clippers. The Nuggets will have a little to say about that first.


LeBron -- -- He was hyped up early. The Lakers came out of the gates strong and forced those first couple of timeouts, Bron was smelling blood in the water and encouraging his teammates. “For me mentally I come in with the same desperation as the opponent,” LeBron said of the close out games. He worked the post a little early, finding Morris for a three and scored a lefy layup on another. He was amped up after grabbing a board, pushing it out and jamming. Someone needs to cgi in a roaring Staples Center. Good perimeter shooting in this one as he sank three threes as well a s couple of long twos. Throw in some muscling around the rim for scores or FTs and he led the team in scoring. Defensively, he had some excellent rotations and there doesn’t seem to be a player on the Rockets he can’t guard, which makes him especially deadly on that end. He made a great rotation in the first half to swipe a pass in the middle of the floor. When the Rockets drew doubles on the wing, they’d try to feed middle and he read that like a safety for the interception. The Stats: He scored 29 points on 9-18 shooting (3-8 from three, 8-10 from the line) to go with 11 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers and 2 fouls in 31 minutes. He was a +19.

Davis -- -- Quiet night for AD. Just 6 points on 1-2 shooting in the first half. A bit turnover prone with either a bad pass, some offensive fouls, or getting stripped from start to finish. He’d end up with 6 turnovers. Prior to this series if you told the Rockets AD would score 13 points in a game with 6 turnovers, they’d take that. I wouldn’t have predicted that game would be a blow out, either. Defensively, he stayed with Westbrook and rotated as necessary, leaving Westbrook to flounder. A very perimeter oriented game. He had a nice putback to hustle after his own miss. He’s score a layup on a post move around Tucker. He’d hit a baseilne turnaround. Not a lot of stuff on the move toward the rim. In the next game, regardless of the opponent, look for a lot more two-man sequences and AD rolling to the hoop or playing above the rim. The Rockets play a little unconventional to take that kind of stuff away. The Stats: He scored 13 points on 4-9 shooting (5-6 from the line) to go with 11 boards (2 offensive), 4 assists, 1 block, 6 turnovers and 2 fouls in 34 minutes. He was a +29.

Green -- -- Great game from Green as he led the team with a +35. He gave the Lakers some three shooting, sinking 4-6. Just one offensive board in this game as the Rockets tried to clamp down on those Laker second chances. Late in the third, he crashed the glass, Westbrook turned to box him out and gave him a shot sending him flying (Green managed to get a hand on a ball and we regained possession). Then, he was able to crash and pull down a board on the subsequent inbounds on that possession. He pulled it to the corner and hit a three. Rockets hung their heads a little on that one as the lead was 25. Defensively, Harden went to the post a couple of times and beat us there, but we didn’t see that a lot. We mixed in doubles and some single coverages. It didn’t matter. His best game of the series. Good to see a strong two-way game from him. The Stats: He scored 14 points on 4-6 shooting from three (2-3 from the line) to go with 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 3 fouls in 25 minutes. He was a +35.

Morris -- -- Deadly tonight. He sank a corner three early on as LeBron worked the post and found him weakside. He dunked on the break when LeBron found him again. He then hit a runner attacking off the three line for his other score of the half. He’d sink a three on the first possession of the second half. Then another for our second score. He’d go 4-4 from three. For good measure, he’d find Kuz later for a three, as well. He picked up a tech as he slapped Rivers from behind on the shoulder after a foul call. Defensively, obviously, his mobility is a key. On one possession, he challenged Green’s drive, then just ate up Gordon on his attempt to create in the lane to get the stop. Give some credit to Pelinka, this was a key pick up during the season and it came to factor in big time in this series. The Stats: He scored 16 points on 6-7 shooting (4-4 from three) to go with 3 boards, 3 assists, 2 turnovers and 5 fouls in 24 minutes. He was a +17.

Caldwell-Pope -- -- He led the team with a +22 at the half as he and Green made 4-7 from three. KCP got us off to a strong start as he swished a wing three for the Lakers first score. He sank another off a handoff from Kuz. He’d also get a layup off a feed from AD as we had the D scrambling and he went to the hoop. Only one other bucket in the second half, but that start was huge. We were throwing punches early and had the Rockets in pain. KCP’s other score in the second half was when he got a steal, pushed it out, double dribbled and scored a layup. Defensively, he ahd a close out on Gordon that might have intimidated him into an airball. The Lakers as a team did a great job not allowing easy looks. (Gordon finish with just 5 in this one as we didn’t leave him open much to snipe away...Morris did once for a three, but that was it.) In the next game, we might see the Lakers go back to their playbook a bit more and get KCP some of those strong handoff sequences. The Stats: He scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting (2-3 from three) to go with 1 board, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 28 minutes. He was a +32.

Kuzma -- -- Love the efficiency by some guys tonight. Kuz had 17 points on 9 attempts to quietly be the Lakers second scorer. He knocked down a three on his first attempt. He’d get another bucket in the first half off a cut across the lane as he absorbed contact and finished. He sank a couple of corner threes on kickouts in the seconds half. A couple of his misses were chucks he had to get up with a man on to try to beat the shotclock, but he still had the efficient outing. He doesn’t get the ball or a lot of usage, but made the most of it. Defensively, regardless of the opponent Kuzma’s D will be in the spotlight in the next one. We will let guys try to handle themselves on iso. He may be key depending on whom we play. The Stats: He scored 17 points on 5-9s hooting (3-6 from three, 4-4 from the line) to go with 4 boards, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in 27 minutes. He was a -3.

Caruso -- -- Well, Rocket fans can rejoice that they held Caruso to 5 points in this one. AC will still have one of the highlight reels moments with a track down block from behind Harden in transition. (Of course, that was off a turnover by Caruso, as he missed LeBron cutting and then threw it away trying to hit someone else.) But we’ll see that soaring bald eagle play over and over. Perhaps, Houstong fans will, too. AC had another block in thos one later to end the third. He closed out to McLemore as he flew by on a challenge, then quickly bounced back up to block the three from behind and control it. He introduced himself to the Portland and Houston fan bases quite well in these series. Scoring in this one, he had an easy layup on a cut and sank a three in the second half. The Stats: He scored 5 points on 2-6 shooting (1-4 from three) to go with 2 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 24 minutes. He was a -4.

Rondo -- -- We saw three Playoff Rondo’s and two Regular Season Rondo’s. Tonight was more the regular Rondo. Huge difference. Really quiet first half from him. The most noise happened in the fourth. He and Westbrook got into some yapping as Rondo was covering him. LeBron eventually told Rondo to go cover someone else and was laughing as he took on Westbrook. Rondo sat for the game shortly later but ended up picking up a tech from the bench. A fan started yapping at Westbrook and waving goodbye apparently and was ejected from the game. That fan? Rondo’s brother. Then Rondo had a few more words with Westbrook later. Some of that swag that Vogel says is important to this team. He doesn’t back away from anyone. We need Playoff Rondo in the next series. Tonight, he did a good job finding guys (5 assists, 2 turnovers), but really wasn’t playing the impact ball that we got in the other wins. It doesn’t surprise me, though, in a blowout win. The Stats: He scored 3 points on 1-4 shooting (1-1 from three) to go with 5 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers and 4 fouls in 21 minutes. He was a +6.

Horton-Tucker -- -- He came in for Rondo after the Rockets made a run in the second quarter. He attacked from the wing and hit a floater for a score. The bench, again, going crazy for him. Then he attacked, spun and missed a layup, but the dribble penetration allowed AD to get fouled on the board. We didn’t have a lot of that dribble penetration for our bigs in those kinds of situations in this series. That’s really where they feast. Next season if he’s in the rotation and can provide that with some frequency we need it. Later in this one, we had some garbage time and he swished a corner three to force a timeout. He scored a layup, attacking middle and spinning to lose his man. He turned the corner in early offense and scored a layup on another for his points. The Stats: He scored 9 points on 4-7 shooting (1-2 from three) to go with 3 boards and 2 fouls in 10 minutes. He was a -4.

Smith -- -- He came in with just under 4 minutes left, chucked a shot, missed. Grabbed a board. That was it. The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-1 shooting from three to go with 1 board and no fouls in 4 minutes. He was a -3.

McGee -- -- Again, Morris started. McGee helped lead that bench cheering squad. He came in with a couple minutes left to run with Dwight. He managed to block a three on a close out hustle and then missed a three himself on the other end. The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-1 shooting from three to go with 3 boards, 1 block and no fouls in 3 minutes. He was a +1.

Howard -- -- In for some garbage time run. Good to get him some minutes to help him get a running start into the next series. Really proud of Dwight (and JaVale), but Dwight especially with how he handled the early benching in this series. He was a great teammate from the bench, always cheering and never pouting. He’s come a long way from the Dwight that was always thinking about Dwight first. He was an All Star and Defensive Player of the Year candidate for most his career after entering the league. This season, he’s had to embrace and entirely different role and view of himself and he’s been superb with that. I assume he’ll go back to that designated hitter role, setting hard screens and crashing the glass in the next one. We need that double-double Dwight off the bench. The Stats: He scored 3 points on 3-6 shooting from the line to go with 2 boards, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in 5 minutes. He was a -6. The Action: Drew a couple FTs battling for a loose ball. He was held on a rim run for more FTs.

Dudley -- -- He came in for LeBron with 6 minutes left. He missed a three and didn’t do much else. Good job by Vogel, though, pulling LeBron with a decent amount of time left. The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-1 from three in 6 minutes. He was a -4.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: Let’s go with that opening stretch of this one. The Lakers pounced early and never gave up the lead. The Rockets had a couple little runs to get the lead into single digits twice, but the Lakers were relentless. The key moment might actually have come two days ago -- that fourth quarter of the last game. We took our foot off the gas and let the Rockets back in. Vogel was able to keep that front and center with the team after the last game and before this one. They came out and brought it from the start. We didn’t look past this game. Great job by Vogel and the staff to completely unlock the Rockets game in the last one, carry that domination through to this one and never let up. Love the 30-point leads. No stress.

Key Substitution: Dudley for LeBron with under 6 minutes left. Garbage time. Love it.

Key Stat: No question, the three shooting. The Lakers went 19-37 (51.4%). The Rockets shot 13-49 (26%). The Rockets have been putting together games with 40%+ shooting nights and still losing. Lakers beat the Rockets at their own game tonight. We shoot like that in any game...you lose.

Coach’s Challenge: He used it early as Davis picked up his second foul on a drive. Challenge unsuccessful. Stress-free game, so these didn’t really matter.


Last edited by DancingBarry on Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:09 am; edited 2 times in total
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angrypuppy
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:59 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:00 pm    Post subject:

Am I 1st. / second...


Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:21 pm    Post subject:

Thanks. Good analysis. THT will breakout next season.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:29 pm    Post subject:

Coach should seriously consider keeping this starting lineup. Morris has been huge upgrade both ends.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:33 pm    Post subject:

Had to come back to my roots at LG to rejoice.

Great to see DBs write ups especially this one.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:48 pm    Post subject:

Great game report/analysis.

Great win!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:28 pm    Post subject:

I’d be surprised if MDA is back after this series. He got worked over by the Laker adjustments and the counters were weak and inconsistent. We made Harden and Westbrook look bad at times...can’t imagine they’d be happy in private about this. Morey probably sells MDA out as cover.

Although China is upset with Morey, so he’s in a hot seat too.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:04 am    Post subject:

Great write up (as always).

One of the NBA processes that always annoys me is how little respect the LA Lakers coaches receive from the media. Looking at the list of NBA Coach of the Year Award winners (link), since 1962-63 through 2019-2020 (58 seasons), Laker coaches have won it three times (Bill Sharman in 71-72, Pat Riley in 89-90 and Del Harris in 94-95). Popavich has won it three times and D'Antoni twice by themselves. Toronto has won it three times in the last fifteen seasons. This year, Vogel guided a team that did not make the playoffs last year to the best record in the Western Conference. He got the team to buy into his brand of defense and offense. In the playoffs--which is all about coaches making adjustments and getting teams to buy into the changes--the top three vote receivers (Nurse, Budenholzer & Donovan) failed to get their teams to make the proper adjustments and their teams have now been eliminated in the first two rounds. I am not saying that Vogel should have won the CYA Award, but he deserved many more votes than he received. Perhaps the CYA Award should be voted on after the playoffs so everybody can see who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:06 am    Post subject:

Great write up DB

Excellent all around game. Once the Lakers figured the Rockets out on D, they finally got over the hump with this team, and every game thereafter they just got better and better. Thought the Rockets would have more fight tonight, but glad they just kinda ran out of gas.

The real challenge comes the next series. I have very little doubt it will be the Clippers. I'm not entirely certain running a small ball lineup vs them for a length of time is best way, especially if Dwight or Javale are causing issues for the Clippers. With that said, it is great to see the Lakers have some valid lineup options to try if things arent working.

THT was fun to watcch, hopefully a sign of things to come.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:11 am    Post subject:

DancingBarry wrote:
I’d be surprised if MDA is back after this series. He got worked over by the Laker adjustments and the counters were weak and inconsistent. We made Harden and Westbrook look bad at times...can’t imagine they’d be happy in private about this. Morey probably sells MDA out as cover.

Although China is upset with Morey, so he’s in a hot seat too.


The problem I saw in this series with the Rockets is their "all in" approach to small ball 3 gave them very little lineup options. While they could make some strategical play changes, disregarding size entirely seemed a bit naive to many in the league and I think it showed here when a team not really known for small ball (the Lakers), who are more known for having size (Dwight, Javale, AD), beat the Rockets at their own game with just a slightly bigger "small" ball - more like medium ball - team.

I think trying to just copy the Warriors "death lineup" - which is what Dantoni's vision was all about - was misguided as GS did not even run that all the time. They had size for battles where that could help with their championship runs - eg Bogut, Javale, and KD's height/length was huge when he was there. Just going straight "hey everyone about 6'7 or below" is a bit one dimensional in the long run.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:55 am    Post subject:

Losing to OKC would've been all-time comedy but it's still satisfying to see our team make an example out of them.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:13 am    Post subject:

DB,

Great write-up as usual.

Lakers are just warming up and have a daunting task beating the Clippers- but if they continue to play stellar defense and get contributions from others outside of AD and LeBron, they should be fine. Hopefully the rest of the team steps up collectively. I hope they set the tone in this series with the Clippers and win the first game because they beat them the last two games they played them in the regular season.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:47 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Excellent T&R as always!

Lakers are in the Conference Championship series now. One step closer.

Keep it up Lakers!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:59 am    Post subject:

Lakers have a balanced attack.
We can run. We defend. We rebound. We have isolation stars. All elite.

We shoot 3s decently.

Houston, under MDA. They shoot 3s and isolate at an elite level. But their defense, rebounding, all very skeptical. They had no transition game, but I credit our D on that.

We thoroughly kicked their asses and proved that balance will always beat gimmick basketball. I get that MDA has schemes that the entire league has picked up on and utilized. However the teams that win rings don't forget about the rebounding, defense, or completely ignore the post/midrange. Golden Statw had an elite midrange game with Durant. They had elite defense. They almost always started someone like Bogut or McGee, then went smaller with Dray.

Seeing someone like Vogel beat down MDA was just so sweet. I won't lie it felt great. That said, MDA deserves props for the job he did with Harden. Incredible.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:16 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB!

You had me scratching my head trying to figure out how Morris got his points!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:05 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB!

What a ride it's been. Houston simply had no answer.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:18 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB.

Caruso is really making a name for himself around the league.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:35 am    Post subject:

Savage

Caruso -- -- Well, Rocket fans can rejoice that they held Carus to 5 points in this one.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:38 am    Post subject:

WCF, how I missed you.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:45 am    Post subject:

Excellent write up DB.

Got to give lots of props to Vogel for this series. He made significant adjustments both at the half and prior to games that really exploited the Rockets weaknesses. He (and LeBron) kept the players motivated whether they were playing or not. All while guys were without their families for almost two months. Speaking as a retired US Army soldier I can tell you it is not easy to keep guys motivated and focused after being away from their family for extended periods.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:45 am    Post subject:

WooHOOOOOOO 💃🏾💃🏾💃🏾

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:07 am    Post subject:

akgolf wrote:
Thanks DB!

You had me scratching my head trying to figure out how Morris got his points!


Oops, typos fixed. Hard to listen to the postgame interviews while typing something else sometimes.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:05 pm    Post subject:

Nobody things these Lakers are for real so it's very satisfying to watch them win. Let's keep it up and go all the way.

Thanks for the writeup DB!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:11 pm    Post subject:

Laker4lifer4real wrote:
Thanks. Good analysis. THT will breakout next season.
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