The Los Angeles Lakers will be trying to take a 2-1 series lead tonight against the Houston Rockets after evening the series in Game 2. The Lakers made some adjustments between Game 1 and 2, including Dwight Howard not playing at all in Game 2, Anthony Davis making his initial moves quicker to catch P.J. Tucker and the Rockets defense off-guard, and Rajon Rondo adjusted to playing well instead of playing terribly. It’s crazy what small adjustments can do to your basketball team.
In addition to making adjustments to help their offense that only scored 92 points in Game 1, the Lakers wanted to throw some wrinkles into their defense as well. To do so, they deployed a 3-2 zone at times that seemed to affect the Rockets. Houston was still able to find some threes here and there, but most of the threes they attempted were on cross-court passes to the wings or corner where a Rockets player was stationed. Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and the other athletic Lakers bigs were still able to cover the amount of court needed to make a semi-decent contest, resulting in plenty of misses from the Rockets.
James Harden and Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni were asked about the zone defense implemented by Frank Vogel and company, and they did not sound too impressed. Here’s Harden’s full quote followed by D’Antoni’s (reported by Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation):
“We’re so good that teams have to thrown in traps and zones. We just got to do what we do. A zone or trap, it kind of gets us more excited because guys around me and Russ are going to have more shot opportunities and opportunities to get going offensively.”
Mike D'Antoni on Lakers playing a 3-2 zone: "Different teams have tried it. We showed a couple things we could've done a little bit better. But at the same time, zones are a desperation thing that I'm not a big believer in. I think offensively we should kill it."
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) September 7, 2020
I’ll tell you what, that sounds like two guys who could care less that Vogel is throwing a zone defense at them. We’ll see if Vogel continues to use it and if Harden and Westbrook seem “excited” to see it. Westbrook will be excited to get anything going on the offensive end after only scoring 10 points on 15 field-goal attempts in Game 2.