ON THE EDGE

The Rockets are now on the brink of elimination after falling to the Lakers, 110-100

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Rockets fell to the Lakers 110-100 on Thursday night giving the Lakers a 3-1 series lead. Houston struggled for three quarters with points in the paint and defending the fast break. James Harden also shot 2 of 11 from the field and only had 21 points, that came mostly from the free throw line. The Rockets also struggled in the rebounding category, which the Lakers led 52-26, with Houston only recording one offensive rebound.

The Rockets allowed the Lakers to disrupt the interior of their defense by giving up 62 points inside the paint. Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 29 points by going 10 of 18 from the field. Even though Davis was not effective from the perimeter, as he is usually, 11 of his points were inside the paint and lived on the free throw line Thursday night. Davis also collected 12 rebounds versus the Rockets, which three of the rebounds came offensively.

Besides Davis having a great night, the Rockets allowed way too many open looks inside the paint. The communication looked completely absent for the Rockets defense, which made it much easier for Rajon Rondo and LeBron James to create for their teammates, as both combined for 17 assists. As Rondo and LeBron created, teammates like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso flourished. LeBron even found Caruso in the corner for a three-point shot, which closed the game out.

The Lakers dominated the Rockets in fast break points, 19-2, but 17 of those points were scored off turnovers. The last time the Rockets turned the ball over like this was Game 2 when they lost 117-109 with 17 turnovers. Harden led the Rockets in turnovers with five, which was another problem for him, despite the double teams.

Mike D'Antoni was asked about double teams Harden constantly sees every game.

"They're double teaming every time. Those are stats that really don't mean anything, just as long as somebody scores," said D'Antoni.

Harden constantly tells his teammates to come to the middle of the court when the Lakers trap him in their 3-2 defensive set. When Harden is doubled, the middle of the paint becomes wide open for teammates to cut and find open shooters. The Lakers defense made it completely hard on Harden, which is probably the main reason why he did not take as many shots. LeBron made it completely known during his press conference after the game.

"James is probably one of the best offensive players we've ever seen in this league," LeBron emphasized after a win on Thursday night. "We're trying to not put him on the free throw line, and he's so clever that he still was able to get 20 free throw attempts. We're just trying to eliminate anything we can from him. Because he gets into the paint with his runners/floaters, he has his step-backs and threes in transition. He has his catch and shoot threes when off the ball. He's very tricky with his moves in the paint."

The only bright spots from the loss to the Lakers were the performances from Russell Westbrook, Ben McLemore, and Austin Rivers. Westbrook had 25 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including going 3 of 6 from three. McLemore had a perfect night by shooting 3 of 3 from the perimeter in 15 minutes of play. Rivers who had 14 points in 28 minutes, was the main anchor on the Rockets 17-2 run in the 4th quarter. Even though these guys played well, it was still not enough against the Lakers.

Despite LeBron only scoring 16 points, the Lakers still dominated the Rockets. Hopefully, the Rockets make the right adjustments and bounce back for game 5.


Follow me on Twitter @RenzoTheDon and Instagram @RenzoTheDon for updates on the Rockets.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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