Orlando—Anthony Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers dominated the Houston Rockets 110-100 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their NBA Western Conference series on Thursday.
The Rockets were no match for the Lakers’ intensity and skill as Los Angeles outscored them 62-24 in the paint and 19-2 in fast break points in the quarantine bubble at the Disney resort in Orlando, Florida.
“We played defence. We did a good job of defending the three,” said Davis. “For the most part we executed our game plan.”
The Lakers didn’t need a big offensive night from LeBron James in their wire-to-wire victory. James finished with just 16 points, but grabbed 14 defensive rebounds and had nine assists for the Lakers, who are trying to reach their first Western Conference finals since the 2009-10 season when they were led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
“We had our game plan and we executed it. If you are going to execute your game plan for that long you are going to come out victorious,” said James.
James Harden had an uninspiring performance with 21 points and Russell Westbrook finished with 25 for the Rockets in the loss. Harden went two-of-11 from beyond the arc and committed three fouls.
“Just a lack of spirit,” said Houston coach Mike D’Antoni. “We got down and lost our way a little bit.”
Los Angeles dominated in almost every aspect of offence and defence and look poised to advance to the NBA final four if they can win in game five on Saturday.
“Elimination games are always the toughest. We got to come out with a killer mindset,” said Davis.
The Lakers capped their win in style as James had a Showtime dunk and guard Alex Caruso nailed a three-point dagger on their final two possessions of the contest.
Harden hit two free throws with 58 seconds left to get the Rockets within five at 105-100, but Caruso drilled a three-pointer with 34 seconds left. Caruso came off the bench to score 16 points.
Rajon Rondo and James combined on the dunk with Rondo driving to the basket, and then bouncing the ball off the backboard to a soaring James for the rim-rattling slam. AFP
After winning the first game of the series 112-97, Houston has now lost three straight, the last two by 10 points.
Houston clawed their way into game seven against Oklahoma City to win by just two points, but they have showed only small bursts of that scrappiness in this series.
They outscored the Lakers 18-2 at one stage in the fourth but they still lost by double digits.
The Lakers’ defence has taken away the Rockets three-point play and on offence they exploited Houston’s porous defence.
Harden looked especially disinterested on defence at times, watching his teammates battle for loose balls around the rim and taking a step back instead of challenging when James made a drive to the basket for an easy layup.
“There is nothing we can do about it now,” said Harden. “We just got to get ready for game five.”
The Rockets played their second consecutive game without reserve forward Danuel House, who is under investigation by the league for a possible breach quarantine protocol.
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