LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/8 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:12 pm    Post subject: LAKERS -vs- ROCKETS - 9/8 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

Rondo vs. Westbrook... This series may come down to those two.

In the first half of this game, it was Westbrook. By the fourth quarter, it was Playoff Rondo who dominated.

The Rockets came into this game confident and they played confident early.

The Lakers struggled to get stops in the first half. The Rockets weren’t doing much better, either. The Rockets had a 10-3 turnover advantage in the first half, which meant the Lakers were not turning stops into breakaway scores. In fact, they lost the break 6-2 in the first (and it was a 12-0 advantage on points off turnovers).

LeBron kept them in it with 29 points in the half, sinking 4-5 from three, but they still trailed by 3 despite his heroics. They let Westbrook get 17 by getting to the rim or working on that midrange bank shot. The Lakers weren’t trapping aggressively like we’ve seen and had very little of that 3-2 zone.

“We allowed them to get into the lane without contests,” LeBron said. “We allowed them to hit some three’s without contests. Our rotations were slow. So we went to the locker room and watched some film and we had a conversation right away.”

They went small in the second half and sat McGee. Despite that, neither team was able to find separation in the third. Then Harden sat.

And here we come to our best minutes of the last game, and once again some of our best in this one. It was Rondo vs. Westbrook and Playoff Rondo stepped up.

The first defensive stand of the fourth, Rondo and AC forced Westbrook to turn it over and we were off to the races. Later, Westbrook hit a three, Rondo found LeBron for a score, then hit a three of his own.

Up 4, Harden came back in, but the Laker small ball held strong, Westbrook iso’d and missed. Rondo hit another three. Then Rondo swiped the ball from Harden and took it for a layup and it was a 10-0 Laker run. Rondo would finish with 12 points in the fourth.

We doubled Harden heavily. Forced him to give the ball up and he didn’t get it back. What’s interesting is in that first half, the Lakers didn’t help off guys like Gordon and Tucker (giving up just 7 combined points to those two). We chilled them early and then they got hungry late. Once Harden made a pass, he didn’t see it again. The rotations were sharp and other Rockets who lived off wide open shots now didn’t have them.

Harden didn’t do much of anything in that fourth. The Lakers held the Rockets to 38 points in the second half and won 112-102. Great job in those first few minutes of the fourth once again. The game has been won here twice.


LeBron -- -- All-time leader in playoff wins with this game (162). We had to win this game with how he was playing. The Lakers could not waste this one. He had 29 points on 10-14 shooting (4-5 from three) in the first half and we still trailed. He had his shot going as that stepback was money. Threes and midrange to go along with a few moments getting to the rim. In the second half, he was patrolling the paint and protecting the rim. How good is he as his age right now. It’s seriously insane. The offense slowed a bit in the second half as his perimeter shot faded a bit. What I want to see in those situations is more of him in the post. He had a cut to the post to seal his man under the hoop for an easy layup. He’s too big for guys and these weak-to-strong opportunities or rim-run seal type of plays are there for him (and AD). LeBron had one of those rim-run post-ups, as well. Defensively, when he got locked in he was sensational. “We allowed too many straight line drives, too many threes,” he said of the first half. He had 4 blocks in that third quarter making sure there were no easy hoops. He said when we get stops, we can run. The Stats: He scored 36 points on 13-23 shooting (4-9 from three, 6-10 from the line) to go with 7 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers and 1 foul in 38 minutes. He was a +8.

Davis -- -- This was a steady performance. He had 14 points on 5-7 shooting in the first half, but also 3 turnovers. Similar scoring and rebounding in the second half. Some good moments when he came when LeBron sat in that fourth. He had a weakside steal on a pass, then swished a face-up wing jumper off the jab step on the other end. We struggled in those moments previously, but the Lakers extended their lead during this stretch. Just huge, especially with Harden returning to the floor. A sketchy moment in the fourth, when he went down after he got run into by Covington off a loose ball scramble. Both guys stayed down for a while RoCo was bleeding. AD took an elbow to the side in that collision. “I’m fine,” he said afterward. It felt like he was around the rim a little more in this one. We had some of those spin moves for lobs (he and Rondo have that down). Some putbacks as well. It feels like our guys are making more of an effort to crash the glass with movement. Defensively, they are constantly trying to pull him from the rim and attack when he is. Good job on the glass. Tucker had no offensive boards in this game and we had a +13 advantage on the glass. The Stats: He scored 26 points on 9-13 shooting (8-11 from the line) to go with 15 boards (4 offensive), 6 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers and 4 foul sin 39 minutes. He was a +6.

Green -- -- Frustrating with some of his lack of focus on defense. We had the clock low and he sagged off Gordon one pass away from Harden to give up an open three in the third. LeBron snapped at him for that one. He and Morris teamed up for a slow-moving soft double that Harden just hit a three on and Vogel called a timeout. The team leadership was having none of that in the third quarter. Offensively, a great job crashing the glass or following his bricks. I mean if you can recover your own brick, I’ll give you a pass for missing them. The Stats: He scored 2 points on 1-5 shooting (0-3 from three) to go with 6 boards (3 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 foul in 22 minutes. He was a +2.

McGee -- -- He was questionable for this game after the ankle twist in the last one. Not a lot of action in his one stint. He denied a Westbrook drive. He was also called for an illegal screen. In the last game, both teams couldn’t score to start the game. In this one, both teams were scoring at will. I think I prefer the last one where our D is actually causing problems. Again, Dwight didn’t see any time in this game as we went with the more mobile Morris. The Stats: He had 1 turnover and 1 foul in 7 minutes. He was a +7.

Caldwell-Pope -- -- He swishd a couple of corner threes in the first half for his only points. He fouled Harden’s elbow with his face on a challenge in the third quarter. Ouch. There was a small play lat ein the game that I’d like to see more of. AD drew a double in the post and KCP flashed from the corner to the open elbow. He missed (Kuzma score crashing), but normally, he’s money on those shots. We had a few guys going to the freethrow line as a pressure release. Hope we see more of that as it can cause a lot of problems for the D or even set up high-lows depending on the sequence. The Stats: He scored 6 points on 2-8 shooting (2-6 from tree) to go with 4 boards, 2 assists and 3 fouls in 30 minutes. He was a +2.

Kuzma -- -- Nice game from Kuz. A lot of off-ball movement on offense. He scored a floater cutting off Rondo’s dribble penetration. He came weak to strong and LeBron found him for a layup. He had another cut off a Rondo drive for a layup. That movement is vital with all the ball watching the Rockets are prone to do with their helping. He also had a great putback off a KCP miss with 2 minutes left, crashing the glass. Throw end some transition scores and a turnaround jumper against the shotclock and you had an excellent, super low usage offensive game. Defensively, he was dialed in. He hustled into the backcourt to save a loose ball to gain us a possession. Great job not giving up. He had a huge stop on a drive of Green in crunch time. If you ask him, that one might have been his favorite play of the game. The Stats: He scored 14 points on 7-10 shooting (0-2 fro, three) to go with 3 boards, 1 steal, 1 block and 2 fouls in 24 minutes. He was a +7.

Caruso -- -- He buried a huge three in the fourth during the stretch where LeBron was sitting. Rondo found him open on the wing and he knocked it down. His other score was catching a bullet feed from LeBron for a layup. One of the ways you can limit Houston from sagging off him and Rondo is by having them hover around the basket. We’ve seen AC with a couple of scores this way. No steals in this game, but he knocked a couple of balls loose. A couple of turnovers, one getting stripped on a swing through. The other throwing a pass into LeBron’s shins as they ran the two-man game. The Stats: He scored 5 points on 2-2 shooting (1-1 from three) to go with 2 boards, 1 block, 2 turnover and 1 foul in 25 minutes. He was a +7.

Rondo -- -- Playoff Rondo for the second game in a row. LeBron had the big numbers tonight, AD did his thing, but it was Rondo that put them over the top. He went 3-5 from three and those threes were overhand rights to the Rockets that helped the Lakers stagger them late in the game. He’s got them thinking now after this one. Those threes stung. Harden mentioned they need to close out on him and not give him those open shots. So now the drive might be opening up for him because he’s in their heads. In any event, it’s not just the open threes. It’s a variety big plays. He was making passes to AD and LeBron for scores. (Love the lobs to AD when he spins...we’ve missed that chemsitry.) Our stars need someone else setting them up from time to time to give us a different look. He also had one of those steals on Harden again that he was able to take for a layup in the fourth. He was a problem for the Rockets. And once Westbrook became a problem for the Rockets, this one was over. Whatever rust he had in that first game, he shook that off quickly. He said he was critical of himself for the turnovers in the first game even though he was coming back after not playing since March. Perhaps, all those minutes Vogel gave him in that loss paid off. Rondo had 9 assists with just 3 turnovers tonight. The three by AC in the fourth was Rondo’s 1,000th career playoff assist. We struggled with the pace early in this game, but once we locked in the second half we finally broke them. His other scores in this game were layups. He scooped one in over Harden in transition. He attacked with the clock low for another. He scored another layup in early offense, practically getting tackled with no call. He also had another tracking down a long outlet from AD for a breakaway layup. The Stats: He scored 21 points on 8-11 shooting (3-5 from three, 2-2 from the line) to gow tih 2 boards, 9 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers and 1 foul in 30 minutes. He was a +7.

Morris -- -- The Lakers small ball unit has worked exceptionally well in those moments when Harden sits. Both stretches of that in the last game and once again tonight in the fourth. So three out of the four times in those stretches going again Westbrook. That combined with Playoff Rondo has made the difference. You knew we weren’t going to get that same three shooting like we saw with our small ball unit in the last one. We got, in fact, just one layup on a drive and dish from LeBron for his only score. Defenders stayed closer to him and he missed all four of his threes. The key is just rotations on D. Get out on those shooters, stay in front of Westbrook when he tries to iso. Don’t do anything stupid (like leaving the strongside three shooter in the corner in the last game). Just do your best Robert Horry impersonation out there. The Stats: He scored 2 points on 1-6 shooting (0-4 from three) to go with 4 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 23 minutes. He was a +10.

Smith -- -- Kuzma picked up a foul in our super small lineup and sat for J.R. Smith gave up FTs to Gordon and a layup to Harden and Vogel called a timeout. That was that. The Stats: He didn’t shoot or score. He had 1 foul in 3 minutes. He was a +0.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: The score was tied 82-82 heading into the fourth. We started Morris, LeBron, Kuzma, AC and Rondo. Harden was out. This is when we have to make some gains. The Lakers opened the quarter with a little 7-3 push that forced a timeout and force Harden to return. Rondo hit another three and the lead went to 7. Then we brought in AD for LeBron. Like those moments when Harden is out and Westbrook is the man, these are the moments for the Rockets that they have to make ground on. The Laker D tighted up further. They doubled Harden, stole passes, hit more big shots and they had a 12-point lead by the time LeBron returned to close. Extending the lead well LeBron sat...just huge.

Key Substitution: The most obvious move to mention might be sitting McGee in the second half. We were a +1 with McGee in the first half and we played even again with the Rockets in the third quarter without him. So that didn’t really turn things. Rondo off the bench with 21 points and 9 assists, that was the difference in this one. When it became a Rondo vs. Westbrook battle to start the fourth, Rondo won. Westbrook likes to scream and make noise after shots. Rondo was just a quiet assassin and took them apart. Westbrook, despite scoring 30 points on 13-24 shooting, was a team-low -14. Rondo was a +7 with his 21 points. Those minutes when Harden sits, we must win. The Rockets will really try to focus on those minutes as we’ve used them to get off to great starts of the fourth quarter in the last two.

Key Stat: 38 points in the second half for the Rockets. The rotations were sharper, LeBron was nuts with his shotblocks. When there was a mental breakdown LeBron and Vogel were on top of it. The Rockets made 12-30 threes (the Lakers 10-30). I will take that every game.
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Dr. Laker
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:33 pm    Post subject:

First!

Thanks, DB!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:59 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Yes! Excellent T&R and another win. Good to see the defense shutting Harden and Westbrook up. Keep it up Lakers!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:05 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:33 pm    Post subject:

That 2nd half was a defensive tour de force. Just completely imposed their will and made everything hard for HOU.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:01 am    Post subject:

Playoff Rondo.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:31 am    Post subject:

A key (negative) point in the first quarter was when we had two fast breaks early, each with a clear advantage, and each time we coughed the ball up and the Rockets turned them into quick scores. 8 big points right there. If we convert in those breaks, we mights have jumped off to a quick lead rather than been tied throughout the first quarter, and may have gotten more momentum early.

Turned out fine in any case, but that was frustrating to watch. Glad it didn’t come back to bite us.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:41 am    Post subject:

Our defense is great.

10 wins to go.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:47 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:10 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:38 am    Post subject:

Their defense was exceptional in the 2nd half.

Some really good change ups by Vogel in this series so far.

I am wondering if he is doing it by design/strategy. Seems like he wants the Rockets to keep guessing what the defense will be. They really had no answer to our 2nd half defensive adjustments.

I call this very good coaching if it is true that he he is doing it by design. And the faith all season in Rondo, man, it certainly seems like he knew what he was doing with that one too.

Still got a ways to go, 2 wins into the semis. But I like the way we are playing, vs 2-3 weeks ago. This is the sort of team we were before the pandemic stopped the season.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:05 am    Post subject:

Danny Green is a guy that has really been subpar for his contract. He feasted off the Raptors title win in terms of salary. I do think he has value that goes beyond his numbers and his championship + system (Spurs in particular) makes him more valuable than the numbers. However he is shooting 35% for the playoffs and 34% from 3. He is getting open looks. In this series he has really frustrated me, in that he can not even defend well. I had read about Green's numbers dipping each postseason the last few years. But this is a bit too drastic. Need better from him. At his salary to get this kind of production and defense is unacceptable.

Perhaps Vogel should call a few plays for Green early on in a game to get him going. Because we can not keep moving forward with Green playing like this. The Lakers are an uber talented team, and Green's role on offense is knock down open shots. Which he is not doing.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:45 am    Post subject:

LeBron was playing out of his mind, especially the blocks when we had no one else detouring their drives to the basket. And Rondo was better than I could of hoped for. He even hit his free throws.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:11 am    Post subject:

markjay wrote:
A key (negative) point in the first quarter was when we had two fast breaks early, each with a clear advantage, and each time we coughed the ball up and the Rockets turned them into quick scores. 8 big points right there. If we convert in those breaks, we mights have jumped off to a quick lead rather than been tied throughout the first quarter, and may have gotten more momentum early.

Turned out fine in any case, but that was frustrating to watch. Glad it didn’t come back to bite us.


Yeah, I had a couple sentences on that in my opening paragraphs but trimmed it out because it was getting a little long.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:13 am    Post subject:

wolfpaclaker wrote:
Danny Green is a guy that has really been subpar for his contract. He feasted off the Raptors title win in terms of salary. I do think he has value that goes beyond his numbers and his championship + system (Spurs in particular) makes him more valuable than the numbers. However he is shooting 35% for the playoffs and 34% from 3. He is getting open looks. In this series he has really frustrated me, in that he can not even defend well. I had read about Green's numbers dipping each postseason the last few years. But this is a bit too drastic. Need better from him. At his salary to get this kind of production and defense is unacceptable.

Perhaps Vogel should call a few plays for Green early on in a game to get him going. Because we can not keep moving forward with Green playing like this. The Lakers are an uber talented team, and Green's role on offense is knock down open shots. Which he is not doing.


I'm constantly wondering why I see Green as the guy missing a rotation or making a mental mistake on D. It doesn't make sense to me. That's the stuff that should be in his wheelhouse.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:27 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! I would agree that Vogel was proved right about playing Rondo that first game. Very good last two games from Playoff Rondo. We sure need him backing up Bron at PG.

Our weird starting lineup has IMO, Bron at PG, KCP at SG, DG at SF, AD at PF and McGee at C. Definitely not our best lineup but maybe there's a reason for starting with this lineup. Specifically, trying to get KCP, DG and McGee productive and confident right away. And if not productive, they play few minutes (hopefully). I trust Rondo, AC, Kuz, Kieff, and Dwight off the bench more than KCP, DG, and McGee. However, if Vogel shortened his playoff rotation to 7 I would be in favor of benching those 3 starters.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:24 pm    Post subject:

biggest game of the lebron era. we should be winning these by 40 if not for refs. harden is just elbowing people out of the way on every drive. but what else is new.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:31 am    Post subject:

Biggest thing I see as basketball coach is that A) adjustments aren't being made by Vogel and staff on the offensive side, or B) players are just doing what they want, which also isn't good coaching. One thing I see after watching the games and then breaking down a bit of film after is the main Houston Defensive tactic is to pack the lane with 4-5 guys depending on what angles the dribbler is attacking or where the post up is coming, and daring the Lakers to shoot outside. The Lakers for most part of this series are obliging this to Houston.

By game 3 even SVG was asking why there weren't cuts and motion happening on offense... It has been for the most part, a lot of dribbling with maybe one PnR up top or a post player or guard holding the ball at the end of the shot clock and forcing a much harder shot. Finally in the 4th Q of Game 3, Kuz and other starters started cutting and moving, and that was killing the Rockets. Any motion you can create on offense, off the ball especially, will force the defense to move and be uncomfortable, especially one that is in some form of a match-up zone which the Rockets are playing. For most of the 3 games, we've let them stay comfortable by doing the opposite.

The fact that a number of coaches can see this and not Vogel and staff, is mind-numbing. I was sure after halftime of Game 1 I was going to see some adjustments, but that never came. So in my opinion, our lack of adjustments to Houston's defensive tactics has made this series harder than it's needed to be.
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