The Los Angeles Lakers hit back in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semi-final series, squaring things up at 1-1 after a 117-109 win over the Houston Rockets.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 62 points on the night, while the Rockets were led by 27 points from James Harden and 24 from Eric Gordon.
Here are the key takeaways from the Lakers' win:
LeBron and AD take charge
The dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis proved too much for the Rockets in Game 2, combining for 62 points, 21 rebounds, and 13 assists in the win.
Davis was aggressive from the outset and finished with 34 points on 15-of-24 shooting, adding 10 rebounds, while James recorded 28 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists - including the dagger down the stretch, burying the fadeaway jumper to ice the game.
LBJ and the @Lakers close out Game 2!- NBA (@NBA) September 7, 2020
Game 3 ⏩ Tue. (9/8) 9pm/et on TNT pic.twitter.com/WkAlzmZswe
The Lakers are now 16-1 (including the playoffs) when James and Davis combine for 60+ points, per Elias Sports.
James added to his already stellar list of playoff accolades, tying Derek Fisher for the most wins in NBA postseason history (161) and passing Ray Allen for second on the all-time 3-pointers made in the playoffs.
With a win tonight, LeBron James tied Derek Fisher for the most wins by a player in NBA postseason history (161). He also passed Ray Allen for the 2nd most 3-Pt FG in the playoffs pic.twitter.com/ci0cQC4YlG- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 7, 2020
Playoff Rondo is back
Rajon Rondo returned to the Lakers lineup in Game 1 after an extended absence due to a thumb injury. He struggled to make an impact in his first game of the post-season, but Game 2 was a different story!
In 29 minutes, Rondo recorded 10 points, nine assists, three rebounds and five steals, finishing the game with a +28, the highest +/- of any Lakers player.
"I think he was extremely aggressive not only offensively, but defensively, taking on the challenge on James [Harden], taking the challenge on whoever he was guarding and just trying to lead," LeBron james said of rondo post-game.
"That's what 'Do [Rondo] is, he's a leader and for us to have him back in the post-season, its a key for our team.
"He comes in, he pushes the tempo, he gets guys involved and that doesn't always show up in the stat sheet with 'Do, the intangibles that he does offensively and defensively. His nose is always around the ball and he makes plays for us and tonight was another example of that."
The Lakers received some much-needed help from their second unit, with Markieff Morris knocking down 4-of-5 from the 3-point line for his 16 points, while Kyle Kuzma added 13 points and six rebounds.
Rockets' historic night from beyond the arc not enough
The Rockets have been hoisting 3-pointers at a historic rate through the post-season and tonight was no different.
After trailing 67-51 at half-time, the Rockets roared back into the game with a lights out third-quarter performance, burying nine 3-pointers, with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker all cashing in.
They turned a 16-point half-time deficit into a two-point lead (92-20) heading into the fourth as they outscored the Lakers 41-23 in the quarter.
The 6'7" or Less Rockets are shooting threes at a historical clip this playoffs.- StatMuse (@statmuse) September 7, 2020
Most 3PA in a playoff game:
58 - Rockets vs OKC G4
56 - Rockets vs OKC G2
53 - Rockets vs Lakers G2
52 - Rockets vs OKC G1
52 - Rockets in 2018 pic.twitter.com/kJwKzne7SX
They connected on 22-of-53 from beyond the arc, managing just two in the final frame as the Lakers turned up the heat on defence to hold off the Rockets' late rally.
Westbrook goes cold
After scoring 24 points in their Game 1 win, Russell Westbrook struggled to keep the momentum going in Game 2, shooting just 4-of-15 from the field for his 10 points.
As the Lakers sent more aggressive traps and double teams in Harden's direction, Westbrook got plenty of good looks but was unable to capitalise, especially from deep, shooting just 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.
"Right now, I'm just running around," said Westbrook, who has played five games after missing several weeks with a right quad injury. "I've got to look at film and figure out how to be effective."
"Right now I'm just running around. I gotta look at film and figure out how to be effective."- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 7, 2020
- Russ on his struggles in Game 2 pic.twitter.com/G4KrcAexA3
Westbrook also had a game-high seven of the Rockets' 17 turnovers.
"Some of it is my fault, some of it is missed calls. But it's on me. I don't point fingers at anybody else … I own my mistakes. I own what I do, and that's that," he said post-game.
Despite his tough night in Game 2, Westbrook grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, with Harden showing plenty of confidence in his backcourt mate's ability to impact the game and bounce back as the series progresses.
"Russ will be fine. Russell is great," Harden said post-game.
"The great thing about Russ, he does more to affect the game than just score the basketball. He's so athletic, he's so great that he can affect it with his defence. He can be a playmaker. We're not worried about it."
These two teams will face off again in less than 24 hours with Game 3 set to tip off Wednesday, September 9 at 6:30 a.m. IST.
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