How the Lakers Took Game 3
The Los Angeles Lakers were without their starting point guard, on the road and were getting hammered in what has become a very physical series.
So how on earth did they win Game Three of the Western Conference Semi-finals against the Houston Rockets?
I could point to three factors that led to their 108-94 win:
- Defense, finally – The Lakers, not really known to be a highly defensive team, played spirited defense with consistency in the game and it showed in the stats: The Lakers had a total of eleven steals against the Rockets’ two, and nine blocks (with a couple coming from Kobe Bryant rejecting Yao Ming’s two shots). I think the game was won in the third quarter when the Lakers held the Rockets to 14 points.
- Hot 3-point shooting – In my opinion, the Lakers are one of the most dangerous teams once their long-range bombs are finding the bottom of the net. Poor 3-point shooting hurt the Lakers in Game 1, but thanks to a 55% shooting clip from beyond the arc in Game Three, the Lakers pressured the Rockets into playing a more offensive-oriented game. Ironically, the Lakers were without Derek Fisher, one of their 3-point specialists.
- The Killer Instinct surfacing? – Kobe set the tone early on first quarter, where he finished with 11 points and making five out of his six shots in the quarter. His tenacity and will to win seemed to be infectious to his team mates, as the killed instinct that most people did not find in the Lakers suddenly surfacing with every hard-fought game. The ultimate dagger came at the end of the third quarter when Kobe made a 30-foot three point shot with two Rockets draped all over him. The Houston crowd was silenced by that shot.