The Los Angeles Lakers now have a commanding 3-1 lead on the Houston Rockets after last night’s 110-100 win. The Lakers have now limited the Rockets to 109 points or less in the team’s three straight wins against them, a feat that is not easy when you’re facing a team with the shooters that the Rockets have. Combine those shooters with MVP winners Russell Westbrook and James Harden and you have the recipe for a potent offense. LeBron James and the Lakers recognize this, essentially breaking down and re-building their defense to match the Rockets.
It’s especially hard to defend Harden, as he uses some of the most efficient (and yet unorthodox) moves on the court to try and get himself or his teammates the best shot. LeBron gave Harden his flowers after last night’s game, giving him one of the best compliments The King can give a player (reported by Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll):
“James is probably one of the best offensive players that we’ve ever seen in this league. He had 20 free throw attempts, and we’re trying not to put him to the free-throw line… The guy is just so clever he still gets 20 attempts… He’s very tricky with his moves in the paint… We can’t take away everything because of how great he is offensively.”
Harden had a very poor shooting night, only making two of his 11 attempted field-goals on the night. Harden has developed a reputation for postseason shooting duds like that, but he still had a +/- of +0 while all other starters on the Rockets had -10 or more. He eventually ended with 21 points due to what LeBron mentioned, 20 free-throw attempts. Harden is arguably the best at drawing fouls out of anyone in the NBA, so even if he isn’t making baskets he will still end with 15-20 points because of those free-throw attempts.
LeBron James and the Lakers will try to close out James Harden and the Rockets on Saturday in Game 5.