THE BEARD GOES TO WORK
After struggling offensively in Game 7 of the previous round against the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets star James Harden came out looking like his usual dominant self on the offensive side of the ball. Harden went on to score 36 points and was a headache for the Lakers defense throughout the entire night. Harden would finish the game 12 of 20 from the field (60%).
LAKERS STRUGGLE WITH SMALL BALL
This was an interesting topic heading into Game 1 and it's all of a sudden become an interesting storyline moving forward. Earlier in the NBA season when the Rockets traded big man Clint Capela, it was clear that Houston was going all-in on their small ball experience. After that moment, the Rockets enjoyed some immediate success, and the rest of the NBA was trying to figure out how to counter the Rockets. Unfortunately for the Lakers, this Rockets small ball team creates some immediate mismatches. A number of Lakers rotational pieces, such as JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, are simply unable to become much of a factor for LA against the Rockets small lineups.
HOUSTON OPENS IT UP IN THE 4TH
A big performance from the Rockets in the 4th quarter of this one, in which Houston would outscore the Lakers 27 to 18. Houston got big performances from both of their offensive stars in James Harden (36 points) and Russell Westbrook (24 points, 9 rebounds). Eric Gordon also got out of his shooting slump from the opening round, finishing this one with 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting (50%).
Houston has the right recipe to give the Lakers some potential problems in this series. It's only one game and expect a good response from Los Angeles in Game 2.