What I am Listening to: USA TODAY Sports activities’ Mark Medina discusses how psychological well being and the stresses of being within the NBA bubble has grow to be a subject matter avid gamers are speaking about because the playoffs press on.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Los Angeles Lakers determined to head small towards the small-ball darling Houston Rockets.

However the issue is, the Lakers’ small-ball lineup is not just larger than Houston’s, it’s higher. This can be a aggregate that has Houston at the fringe of removing.

With their dimension and flexibility, the Lakers pounded the Rockets and took a controlling Three-1 lead within the Western Convention semifinals with a 110-100 victory over Houston in Sport four on Thursday.

The Lakers sputtered down the stretch slightly — some degree LeBron James lamented after the sport — however they clobbered the Rockets on ignored pictures, outrebounding the Rockets 52-36, together with 12-1 at the offensive forums, and the Lakers became the ones offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance issues.

“Offensively, we’re seeking to play a bit bit the best way Houston does from the viewpoint of crashing from the nook,” Lakers trainer Frank Vogel stated. “Danny Inexperienced and (Rajon) Rondo had some giant additional ownership performs for us. And clearly, there’s the dimensions issue, too. That every one performs into the rebounding.”

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Los Angeles additionally accrued defensive rebounds and turnovers and became them into 19 fast-break issues and outscored Houston 62-24 on issues within the paint.

“Rebounding isn’t at all times about dimension,” Vogel stated. “That’s what we need to perceive. I love the truth that we dedicated to box-outs — we held them to at least one offensive rebound. That is one thing they do smartly. They crash from the fringe, from the nook. It’s a singular defensive rebounding project, so I used to be pleased with our dedication more than happy now we have a dimension merit over those guys.”

The Lakers began James and Anthony Davis at ahead, Markieff Morris at heart and Danny Inexperienced and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at guard.

“I don’t have a look at it as a small lineup,” stated James, who 16 issues, 15 rebounds and 9 assists.

Then James rattled off heights. He’s 6-Nine, Davis is 6-11, Morris is 6-10, Inexperienced is 6-7 and Caldwell-Pope is 6-6.

“All of us have this wingspan,” James stated, extending every arm out. “And we play arduous. When you’ve got that form of period, you probably have that form of athleticism all the way through 5 guys, it certainly is helping blank the glass, shield, be capable of rotate, in a position to be in conversation the place if one thing breaks down you’ve gotten guys who can fly round and lend a hand as smartly. It’s just right lineup for us.”

The Lakers didn’t play facilities Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, and each lineup the Lakers used used to be necessarily a large small-ball lineup.

Possibly it used to be Rondo, who had 11 issues, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, and Alex Caruso, who had 16 issues, at the court docket with a mix of James and Davis, who scored a game-high 29 issues and picked up 12 rebounds.

It is probably not a conventional small lineup however the Lakers to find simply sufficient Three-point capturing from Inexperienced, Caldwell-Pope, Caruso and Rondo to lend a hand James and Davis.

If the time is available in every other sequence, the Lakers can move giant. That talent to evolve is really helpful within the playoffs.

There may be versatility to the Lakers with their period. Take a look at what they did to All-Superstar James Harden, who had 21 issues. he Harden scored 16 from the foul line. Harden used to be 2-of-11 from the sphere, together with 1-of-6 on Three-pointers, his distinctiveness. He didn’t take an authentic shot try within the fourth quarter.

The Rockets made simply 14 Three-pointers, they usually’re no longer going to overcome the Lakers by way of making that many 3s. That’s no longer their taste. They wish to make 20 3s, and the Lakers have averted them from doing that on this sequence.

Houston went all in on small-ball on the industry closing date. Basic supervisor Daryl Morey believes this is a technique to win a name.

However right here the Rockets are, within the convention semifinals, getting beat at their very own sport.

Observe Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.


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