The Los Angeles Lakers, who hold a 3-1 series lead, look to close out the Western Conference Semifinals in Game 5 against the undersized Houston Rockets. The Rockets, who will be without Danuel House for the remainder of the series due to violations of Coronavirus protocols, will look to get a spark from their entire team in order to have a chance against these Los Angeles Lakers who play like they are on a mission. LeBron James is 36-10 in his career in series closing games, so the majority of statistics fall in favor of LA.
The Lakers seemed to smell blood early in the contest as the 8:55 mark in the first period saw the Lakers balloon to a 13-2 lead thanks to three pointers from Markieff Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Danny Green. LeBron James was also fantastic, to say the least. With six minutes remaining in the first quarter, The King posted 9 points on 4-4 shooting from the field. Three pointers continued to pour in for the Lakers as Kyle Kuzma joined the fun with four minutes left in the quarter to help the lead bounce to 31-11. The most glaring statistic from the quarter was that Anthony Davis contributed 0 points to the Lakers commanding start to the game. The Lakers went on to net seven three’s en route to a 35-20 first quarter thrashing. Credit to Houston for closing out the quarter on a 9-2 run (since the largest lead was 22) but just two points from Russell Westbrook just won’t get it done.
A Ben Maclemore three pointer and Harden converting from the field helped propel the Rockets to a serious run to open the second quarter. Within a blink of an eye, a 22 point lead was cut down to just 7 as the Lakers were on their heels. Los Angeles would need to re-establish themselves and break away from the 17-2 run the Rockets layed down on them. LeBron James was able to break the Rockets run with a corner three, but James Harden continued to apply pressure by answering with his own three. Anthony Davis attempted his first shot of the game at the 6:49 mark of the second quarter, but he was fouled and sent to the line to convert two free throws. As astonishing as that is, the Lakers seemed to be outplaying the Rockets at their own game as they went back up by 11 points. Talen Horton-Tucker was another addition to the Lakers squad as the rookie was in his second playoff game and didn’t waste time to record his first field goal. As expected, the Lakers bench erupted with praise for the 19-year old as he was able to create his own shot and finish in the paint. The Lakers were able to settle down the Rockets for the remainder of the half as they ended off the half with a 62-51 advantage.
PJ Tucker got the second half going in favor of the Rockets thanks to back-to-back three pointers to bring Houston within six points of the Lakers. But every time the Rockets would mount some sort of comeback, the Lakers would sucker punch Houston in the jaw. With just over seven minutes left in the third quarter, the Lakers pushed forward and established a 77-61 lead to regain control of Game 5. The remainder of the quarter was just not fair to the Rockets as they fell back down to a 95-69 deficit at the end of the third quarter as Houston was incapable of settling down any of the Lakers shooting from the field and fastbreak points. The Lakers were 15-27 from downtown entering the fourth quarter, so it was clear that the Rockets were being outplayed by their own game.
There really isn’t much else to report on when it comes to basketball action in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers were able to cement their grandiose win over the Houston Rockets to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010 when the Lakers went on to win the championship over the Boston Celtics in seven games. LeBron James ended the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists as the Lakers posted a franchise-record 19 three pointers in a playoff game. The Lakers now await the winner of the Clippers and Nuggets series to see who their opponent will be in the Western Conference Finals.