What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina discusses how mental health and the stresses of being inside the NBA bubble has become an issue players are talking about as the playoffs press on.
Lakers bully Rockets in Game 4 to take commanding 3-1 series lead
The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t play centers Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee in Game 4 against the Houston Rockets and still had a size advantage.
“We’re still bigger even if we minimize playing Dwight and JaVale,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the game. “We’re still bigger than them just with Anthony Davis being out there alone. We’re just playing one big, not two, for a lot of these situations. I do think we still have a size advantage there.”
That size advantage overwhelmed the Rockets for much of Game 4 as the Lakers seized control of the series with a 110-100 victory on Thursday, taking a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Game 5 is Saturday, and with one more victory, Los Angeles will advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2010 — the last time the Lakers won a championship.
Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists and Rajon Rondo had another solid performance off the bench with 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Los Angeles outrebounded Houston 52-26, including 12-1 on the offensive boards, and the Lakers turned those offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points. They also collected defensive rebounds and turnovers and turned them into 19 fast-break points and outscored Houston 62-24 on points in the paint.
Even as 3-pointers started to fall in the second half — they made 11-for-20 3s in the final two quarters — the Rockets had trouble getting into the Lakers’ double-digit lead until late in the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Lakers got lackadaisical. They had a 99-76 lead with 7:53 left in the fourth, and the Rockets trimmed it to 105-100 with 58.7 seconds left. Alex Caruso’s 3-pointer followed by James’ dunk ended Houston’s comeback attempt.
Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 25 points, and James Harden had 21 points, but he was just 2-for-11 from the field and didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
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