LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (AP) – The Los Angeles Lakers were on a wild ride at Disney.
A big lead in the first half had turned into a two-point deficit after three quarters. If they didn't turn things around, seeds # 1 would have fallen 2-0, though Anthony Davis said they wouldn't think about it.
"Our mindset was, 'How do we win this game? ", He said.
Letting LeBron James take over is usually enough.
James had 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, Davis added 34 points and 10 rebounds and the Lakers equalized the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Houston Rockets 117-109 on Sunday night.
Markieff Morris scored 16 points for the Lakers. They opened a 21 point lead in the first half, gave up 41 points in the third quarter to fall back, and then regrouped behind some high-flying James games to pull back.
"We're at our best when he's in attack mode," said Lakers coach Frank Vogel.
James made only 15 shots in Game 1 and was goalless in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 112-97 loss. Afterward, he said that the Lakers would have to experience a game to understand how fast the Rockets are playing with small balls.
"I think we adjusted from Game 1 to Game 2," said James.
And as the missiles adjusted from the first to the second half, James was dominant on both ends in the closing stages. He had eight points in the quarter and a powerful shot at Russell Westbrook, who went way beyond the limits.
James Harden scored 27 points and Eric Gordon made six 3 points and added 24 for the Rockets who made 22 3 points. P.J. Tucker had 18 points and Robert Covington 17, but Westbrook only finished 4 for 15, scoring 10 points and taking 13 rebounds.
"They just came out and played harder than us," said Harden. “In the second half we woke up and took the lead. We have to have that intensity early in the game and we'll be fine. "
Game 3 is Tuesday evening.
The Lakers also dropped their opener against Portland in the first round, but comfortably won the second game en route to four straight wins.
This one it seemed easy, then it seemed that it wasn't going to come at all.
But James had a dunk to open fourth and tie the game and another dunk on a lob during an 8-0 run that finally gave them the lead. They put it down with a 9-0 breakout later in the period, with two baskets from Davis to make it 113-101.
Morris sparked a big end to the first quarter. He had a 3-hand with 1:11 left, then reconnected after 52 seconds and a third time with 31 seconds left, which pushed the lead to 33-17. Rajon Rondo did one more on the summer to give the Lakers a 36-20 pillow.
"From the middle of the first to the end of the first, they just punched us in the mouth," said Houston coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni. "We didn't play with enough intensity to match their passion. We adjusted in the second half so that we played harder."
James scored six quick points per second to make it 42-21. Houston had a good stretch to cut it to nine, with just under 5 minutes in the half, but the Lakers quickly ran a 10 straight to push the lead back to 61-42 and it was 67-51 at break.
Gordon made two 3s in a row and Tucker hit one to open the third, forcing the Lakers to take a short break and knock out the center JaVale McGee so they could be a better match. But that didn't slow the Rockets at all. Gordon got a layup and Harden got another 3 for a 14-0 start that took it to 67-65.
Houston stumbled ten times in a row later during that period, with Covington converting a four-point game followed by a three-pointer to start it and give the Rockets the lead. They were between 92 and 90 and went to the fourth.
Rockets: Houston are 7-1 straight under D’Antoni when they won Game 1. The only loss was to San Antonio in the semifinals of the 2017 Western Conference.… Danuel House Jr. scored 13 points.
Lakers: The Lakers outscored the Rockets by 28 points when Rondo was in play. "He's such an influence," said Vogel. "His influence on our team is measured in loot." … James passed Ray Allen, 385, and finished second on the postseason list for 3-pointers. Stephen Curry is the leader at 470.
NOT THE UNUSUAL
Despite the focus on the Rockets style, D & # 39; Antoni said the Rockets aren't that different from other NBA teams. “I just saw Miami, for example. (Bam) Adebayo is the only one who got taller than us and I don't know which two inches taller? He's about 6-8 or 6-9, I don't think 7 feet or 7-2, "said D & # 39; Antoni." So it's like I'm watching and saying, "Why don't they say that is a little ball? "Because it is."
DOC IN THE HOUSE
Clippers coach Doc Rivers sat in their seats to watch the family and possibly the enemy. His son Austin plays for the Rockets. The Clippers would play the series winner if they beat Denver in the other west semifinals.
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