The final score of 110-100 for Game 4 of the Conference Semifinals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets doesn't necessarily tell the whole story of the game.
The Lakers dominated this game, leading by as many as 23 - the largest lead of the series. This game had no lead changes - the first such occurrence in this series - and that really emphasized the commanding position the Lakers held for a majority of this game.
A late 18-2 fourth-quarter run by the Rockets made things interesting and brought the lead down to seven with 2:09 minutes left but the Lakers held on to take a 3-1 series lead.
Caruso for 👌 to close out Game 4! pic.twitter.com/R3iJsqMWrZ- NBA (@NBA) September 11, 2020
"Just a lack of spirit," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said post-game. "Just seems like we got down, lost our way a little bit."
"Whether we make mistakes or not, it doesn't really matter. It's how hard you play."
In multiple key areas, Houston was just outplayed. In fastbreak points, they were outscored by 17 (19-2) and in the paint, they were outscored 62-24 while getting outrebounded 52-26. In the second-chance points category, they were outscored 17-3.
Nearly all of Anthony Davis' 13 points in the third quarter came in these critical areas.
AD (23 PTS) drops 13 in the 3rd on TNT! 💪 pic.twitter.com/EAJE5gubmZ- NBA (@NBA) September 11, 2020
In the blowout game, James Harden was the Rockets' biggest contributor with 21 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. However, 16 of those points came from the free-throw line as he shot a dismal 2-of-11 from the field, 1-of-6 from beyond the arc, and turned the ball over five times.
"That's a good question," Harden said postgame when asked why the Rockets seemed flat in a game with so much at stake.
To put it simply: the Rockets didn't play Rockets ball in this game. After averaging 51.6 3-point attempts in the first 17 games in the bubble, where they went 9-8, Houston is only averaging 31.5 attempts in Games 3 & 4 against the Lakers.
Can the Rockets become the first team in NBA history to register three 3-1 comebacks? Maybe or maybe not, but it all starts with Game 5 on Saturday, September 12th at 8:00 p.m. ET
"Have the same energy we had in the 4th Quarter," Harden said postgame on what they need to do to avoid 'being flat' in Game 5.
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