LeBron disappears and Harden walks before the worst Lakers

The Lakers were the whole game behind and were left without answers against the Rockets. LeBron, 0 points in the fourth quarter.


One thing is for sure: Well, the Lakers are not going to win the ring. Nor are they going to beat some Rockets who have things much clearer than them. It is what it has looked like in the opening duel of the second semifinals of the West, the last in the entire NBA to get going and the third in which the visiting team takes the victory. Apparently, since there is no field advantage or anything like it. Something that does not change things for Houston, that if he dies it will be with his boots on and with the certainty that they took his shameless style beyond the extreme in which they already have it. The Texans dominated the Lakers, they were the whole game ahead, they were not intimidated by the difference of centimeters and defended brutally while attacking as they know how to do, with a capital importance of the triple and a cult of personality represented by a Harden who, with 36 points, was the leader of his team in a qualifying debut that leaves doubts.

The main one, if LeBron is going to continue his streak or is going to fall in the semifinals for the first time since 2010, when he was a member of the Cavs and the Celtics brought him down from the dream of a ring, something that was the preview of The Decision and the start of the second part of one of the most spectacular stories that the best league in the world has ever seen. El Rey will also have to change a lot if he wants his fourth ring and his definitive link in history. If the series against the Blazers ended with good feelings for him, the development of the first game has shown radically different things. Just 20 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists (a bad game for him), but 4 losses (15 total for the team), -15 with him on the track and 0 points in the last quarter, something that has penalized the Lakers in Too much and that has led the Rockets to sentence and go from having a 6-point lead with which the fourth period began, to causing the Angelenos to lower their arms and consider impossible a comeback that no one expected.

Another one who will have to make him look will be Frank Vogel, without answers to the D'Antoni system. Lost in the pairings, unable to find answers in attack beyond a few triples that, again, have not entered (11 of 38, a drama) and without knowing whether to put an accumulation of centimeters or give in to the opponent's small ball. Vogel has overused a Rondo who returned after six months injured and who on his return has played almost 25 minutes (8 + 3 + 4), he has not managed to close the corners in defense, with Tucker and Gordon always ready and their defenders Arriving late. And the combination of quintets has choked him off against rivals who express his style and do not shy away from the post despite being smaller. And not even there, being Davis (25 + 14) far superior to his pairing, have some Lakers insisted that they lowered their arms very early and hope not to reach the tie too late. The example of the Bucks is instructive to know what does not have to happen.

And the Rockets are comfortable. Within the game, they knew how to handle the advantage they took in the last quarter (18-27 of partial), they did what they wanted and had Harden in a state of grace (and with many fouls in favor) and the iron defense and very involved in every moment. They shot 27 free throws, eight more than the Lakers, they had 23 points from Gordon and 24 + 9 + 6 from a Westbrook accelerated at times and who did not have his best night, but is still the only one that breaks with a scheme in which has become comfortable. A triple of his at the end certified the almost definitive advantage of the Texans, who knew how to manage their possessions and catch up to 41 rebounds, the same as their rival, who only had 4 offensive at halftime and only 4 more points in the zone. Bad news that shows how D'Antoni has taken them to his land and has managed the situation so that they are the ones who adapt to it and not the other way around. And we already know what the Angels have to adapt to, and it is nothing less than a team that shot 357 times out of three in the first round against the Thunder. Almost nothing.

Little more to add. The Lakers need to get their free shots in, Kuzma to make a less damaging mess than tonight and in the second unit someone step up. They also need Davis to have something other than frost in his veins and not step back from smaller, less talented defenders. And LeBron, especially LeBron. His 0 points in the last period and his total disconnection from the game weighed like a slab on the team's spirits and his minutes on the court with Rondo are still effective as a resource and not as a system, especially when none of them knows how to play the ball . The Lakers have to get better, reunite and put the opening game behind them just like they did in the first round against the Blazers. And they have to do it soon if they want to continue dreaming about the ring. And they know better than anyone that they need LeBron for this. They know it, the Rockets and the entire NBA that does not wait for anyone or will wait for the King. However long its legend is.

Photos from as.com
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