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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets lose Game 2 to Lakers, 117-109
Posted: September 6, 2020 -- 11:45 p.m. CT
ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- The Houston Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-109, Sunday night, in Game 2 of their second-round NBA playoffs matchup. The series is tied, 1-1.
The Lakers were much more aggressive in the first quarter Sunday night. Lakers' big man Anthony Davis didn't settle for post ups against Houston's P.J. Tucker. AD utilized his height advantage and scored 11 points in the opening quarter on 5 for 7 field goal shooting.
However, Lakers' forward Markieff Morris came off the bench and knocked down 4 three-point shots in the final 3 minutes, 35 seconds of the quarter to help the Lakers lead the Rockets 36-20 after 12 minutes.
In the first quarter, the Lakers made 15 of 24 field goal attempts with 10 assists. Houston, on the other hand, made just six of 19 field goal tries. Danuel House Jr. score a team-high 9 points to lead the Rockets.
"We just didn't play with enough intensity to match their fire," Mike D'Antoni, Rockets Head Coach, said after the game.
The Rockets trailed by as much as 21 points in the second quarter; however, 21-9 run trimmed Houston's deficit to 9 with 4:47 remaining in the opening half. The Lakers answered with a 10-0 run to lead by 19.
Houston trailed 67-51 at halftime. Houston made 11 of 28 three-point attempts in the opening half; but, they committed 8 turnovers which the Lakers converted into 17 points.
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Eric Gordon nailed a deep three-pointer from 29 feet to start the third quarter. Gordon knocked another deep three; then, P.J. Tucker swished a corner 3. Houston had sliced a 16 point halftime deficit to 7 in 91 seconds to start the third quarter.
Gordon scored a driving layup before James Harden swished a step back three-point shot to pull Houston within 2 points (67-65) with 9:19 remaining in the quarter.
The Rockets used less than 3 minutes to go on a 14-0 run. Houston knocked down 6 consecutive three-point shots to in the third quarter.
The Lakers were reeling. Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma's driving dunk put the Lakers up 80-75 with 5:27 left in the third. The Rockets responded with 10-0 to lead 85-80 with 3:25 remaining in the quarter.
Do the math. After trailing 62-41 in the second quarter, Houston outscored the Lakers 44-18 to lead by 5.
The Rockets made 9 of 13 three-point attempts (69.2%) in the third quarter and outscored the Lakers 41-23 in the period.
Houston led 92-90 at the end of the third quarter.
LeBron James went to work in to start the fourth quarter. LeBron tied the game at 92 with a driving dunk.
Russell Westbrook scored a driving layup for a 94-92 Rockets' lead. Markieff Morris scored a layup to tie the game at 94.
Westbrook missed a pullup 3-point shot attempt; Rajon Rondo swished an 18-foot jumper.
LeBron stole the ball then flew down the court and threw down a one-hand jam from a high alley-oop pass from Alex Caruso. Next, LeBron swatted Westbrook's layup attempt into the next county.
After Danuel House Jr missed a layup; LeBron grabbed the rebound then dished to Caruso for a layup for a 100-94 Lakers lead with 9:18 on the clock.
LeBron produced 2 vicious dunks; 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in less than 3 minutes.
P.J. Tucker scored 5 straight points to bring the Rockets within 104-101. The Lakers went on a 9-0 run to lead 113-101 before Harden made another step back three-point shot. The Lakers kept the Rockets at arms' length down the stretch.
After making 9 of 13 threes in the third quarter, Houston regressed to the mean and made 2 of 12 threes in the fourth quarter. Houston shot 33.3% (6 for 18) in the fourth quarter compared to 63.2% (12 for 19) by the Lakers.
The Rockets were outscored the Lakers 54-26 in the paint and 20-6 in fast break points. Houston finished the game with 17 turnovers. Harden had 5 turnovers. Westbrook had 7 turnovers.
"It's on me," Westbrook remarked after the game. "I don't fingers at nobody. I own my mistakes."
The Lakers scored 27 points off the turnovers. The Rockets scored 18 points off of 16 Lakers' turnovers.
All five Houston starters scored in double digits. James Harden led the Rockets with 27 points. Eric Gordon was next with 24 points. P.J. Tucker scored 18 and pulled down 11 boards. Robert Covington scored 17; Danuel House chipped in 13 off the bench; and Russ finished the game with 10 points on 4 for 15 field goal shooting./p>
Anthony Davis scored a game-high 34 points for the Lakers. He added 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 blocked shot.
LeBron finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocked shots, and 7 turnovers.
"We weren't aggressive enough; and, we didn't attack their zone enough," James Harden said.
Game 3 versus the LA Lakers will be Tuesday, September 8. Tip is set for 8 p.m. on TNT.
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