USATSI

Since dropping Game 1, the Lakers have been looking strong against the Rockets. Game 3 was the latest example of that, as L.A. took control of the semifinal matchup with a 112-102 win for a 2-1 series lead. LeBron James’ 29 first-half points and Rajon Rondo’s 21 points and nine assists were enough to propel the Lakers over the Rockets on Tuesday, and it doesn’t look like Houston has an answer to Los Angeles’ stars. 

Despite both James Harden and Russell Westbrook playing well in Game 3, it wasn’t enough to slow down LeBron and Co., and now the Rockets will have to go back to the drawing board to try and even up this series on Thursday. Here’s everything you need to know for Game 4 of the Lakers-Rockets series.

Viewing information

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 10 | 7 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: TNT
  • Odds: Lakers -5 | Over/Under: 220.5

Storylines

Lakers: Playoff Rondo was in full effect in Game 3, and his performance down he stretch proved to be the deciding factor in the Lakers win. While many questioned his fit on this roster this season, Rondo quieted all the naysayers with his vintage performance, looking like the ultimate floor general we haven’t seen him be since his days in Boston. This game is the exact reason why he’s on this team. As much of a pedestrian player as he was during the regular season, the postseason is where he shines, and he proved that in this game. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come, instead of just a fleeting moment. 

Rockets: Houston is going to need significantly more help out of its players not named Harden and Westbrook to grab another win in this series. While the two stars combined for 63 points, the rest of the roster didn’t contribute much outside of a 16-point performance out of Jeff Green. The Rockets won Game 1 in part because they used their small-ball strategy against the length of the Lakers, but it was also because Eric Gordon contributed 23 points in the win. Houston will need Gordon to replicate that performance in Game 4, otherwise the Rockets will find themselves on the brink of elimination.  

Prediction

Similar to the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers dropped the first game only to dominate the rest of the series. While Houston looked like it would put up a fight against the Lakers in this matchup, L.A. just has too much firepower to work with against this team. LeBron continues to play like he’s a spry 25 year old — not 35 — on the floor, and Anthony Davis is getting it done on both ends of the floor. When the Lakers play like this, they’re incredibly difficult to beat. Pick: Lakers -5 

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