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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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Playoff Rondo scores 21 for Lakers in Rockets' 112-102 Game 3 loss
Posted: September 9, 2020 -- 12:51 a.m. CT
ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- The Houston Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-102, in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals NBA playoffs matchup. With the win, the Lakers lead the series, 2-1.
LeBron James scored 36 points and Anthony Davis added 26 points; but, Rajon Rondo was a key factor in the Lakers' win. "Playoff Rondo" scored 21 points and added 9 assists in 30 minutes off the bench. Rondo made 3 of his 5 three-point attempts; and, he was 8 for 11 from the floor overall.
The Rockets sagged off of Rondo and dared him to beat them from the perimeter. He did exactly that Tuesday night.
The Lakers went on a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter. Rondo scored 8 of the 10 points. He knocked down two 3-point shots; and, Rondo stole the ball from James Harden and scored a layup.
"Rondo made some shots," Harden said of the 10-0 run. "Simple. We turned the ball over. He made a couple of threes. That was it."
Harden added, "I feel like we got to contest his (Rondo) shots. Obviously, we'd rather Rondo shoot the shots than LeBron and AD; but, I feel like we got to make a conscience effort to contest his shots and not just allow him to shoot in open space."
Harden and LeBron lit up the scoreboard in the first half. Harden scored 21 points in the opening half on 8 for 16 field goal shooting and perfect 3 for 3 from the foul line. LeBron scored 29 points in the first half on 10 for 14 field goals including 4 for 5 from three-point range.
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Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in the first half. Robert Covington scored 10; Jeff Green added 9 points in the half.
Houston led 64-61 at the half. The Rockets shot 56.8% (25 for 44) from the floor in the first half while the Lakers shot a blistering 62.2% (23 for 37) from the floor in the half.
The hot shooting cooled considerably in the third quarter while the defense heated up. LeBron James was a one-man shot blocking machine with 4 blocked shots in the quarter.
Houston made only 6 of 20 field goal tries in the third period. The Lakers made 8 of 21 field goal attempts in the third including a frigid 1 for 10 from long range.
LeBron scored 2 points in the third quarter. His hot three-point shooting in the first half chilled to 0 for 3 from three in the third.
The score was tied at 82 at the end of the third quarter.
After Kyle Kuzma scored a finger roll layup, Westbrook knocked down his second three-pointer in the game for an 85-84 Rockets lead.
LeBron scored a layup to put the Lakers up 86-85. Next, after Eric Gordon missed a 3, Rondo a three-point shot to put the Lakers up 89-85. After Westbrook missed a 10-foot turnaround shot off the backboard, Rondo swished a 29-footer. Then, Rondo stole the ball from Harden and scored layup for a 94-85 lead with 8:22 remaining in the ball game.
The Lakers led by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Rockets did not get closer than 8 points in the final moments of the ball game.
The Lakers outscored the Rockets 30-20 in the fourth quarter.
"We had some key turnovers in the fourth," Westbrook said after the game. "But, for the most part, we can find some good things out of this game. Unfortunately, we didn't win."
The Lakers also had the edge in points in the paint (56-46); 15-7 2nd chance points; 10-8 fast break points; and 12-8 points off turnovers.
Game 4 versus the LA Lakers will be Thursday, September 10. Tip is set for 6 p.m. on TNT.
The Rockets' Danuel House Jr and veteran center Tyson Chandler did not play in Game 3 due to personal reasons.
With 4:37 left in the fourth quarter, Robert Covington collided with Anthony Davis. Covington's face hit AD's shoulder while Covington's elbow hit AD in the side. Both players stayed on the floor for awhile. Covington was helped to his feet and walked to the medical area with a towel covering an apparent bloody nose.
In the Rockets' win in Game 1 of the series, the Lakers shot 42.2 fg%. In Houston's 2 losses, the Lakers shot 56.6 fg% in Game 2 and 55.1 fg% in Game 3.
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