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Thursday's NBA playoffs: Davis, Lakers run past Rockets for 3-1 West semifinals lead

Associated Press

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Anthony Davis was the biggest player on the floor, and the Houston Rockets had no answers.

Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James finished one assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Rockets 110-100 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) defends against Houston Rockets' James Harden during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

James had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Rockets 52-26. Alex Caruso scored 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, who held on after frittering away most of a big second-half lead.

“Turnovers,” Davis said. “We had too many turnovers.”

That was one of the few complaints the Lakers could make after Game 4.

Russell Westbrook had 25 points and James Harden had 21 – on 2-for-11 shooting – for the Rockets, who got 19 from Eric Gordon and 14 from Austin Rivers.

The scoring margins were massive: Houston got outscored 62-24 in points in the paint, 17-3 on second-chance points, 19-2 on fast-break points.

“We know we’re in a big hole now, but the next game is the game we’ve got to win,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ll go out and if we lay it on the line like the way we did in the fourth quarter, we’ll be fine.”

The Lakers were up by 23 midway through the fourth, well on their way to a blowout win. That’s when Houston’s offense woke up.

Westbrook made a corner 3 with 3:01 left, Harden got a steal and a pair of free throws on the next possession, and the Rockets put together a 18-2 run to get within 103-96. The Lakers turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions during that stretch, giving Houston life.

“I think we did a good job getting more aggressive, and that led to a lot more opportunities offensively,” Harden said.

Harden was then asked why the Rockets were flat through three quarters.

“Good question,” Harden said, later adding, “there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

The Lakers, on their biggest possession of the night, went to Davis – who was guarded by Gordon, who stands about half-a-foot shorter than Davis. It led to an easy score for Davis with 1:47 left, and the Lakers had a bit of breathing room.

Caruso’s 3-pointer off a pass from James with 34.6 seconds left made it 108-100, sealing the win.

“Obviously, we’ve got to be better,” James said. “We’ve got to close out games the right way.”

This is how easy things were for the Lakers: In the third quarter, James grabbed a defensive rebound, turned and fired a 70-foot pass – soccer throw-in style – to Davis, the ball sailing over the five Rockets who were jogging back on defense. Davis caught the pass in stride and laid it in for a score, the ball never touching the ground.

And this is how difficult things were for the Rockets: They went 4 for 20 from the field over a 16-minute stretch spanning from late in the first quarter to early in the third, getting outscored 41-23 and seeing their deficit growing from three to 21.

The Lakers won Game 3 by holding Houston to 38 points in the second half – and clamped down again in the first half of Game 4. It was 57-41 Lakers at the break, meaning Houston had scored 79 points in its last 48 minutes of basketball.

For context: The Rockets had 79 points in a two-quarter span on five different occasions this season. The stretch in the fourth made it interesting, but the Lakers never lost the lead.

“Overall, it’s a heck of a win for our group,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Again, we’re not going to be comfortable playing against this team with the firepower they have.”

Eastern Conference 

Miami 4, Milwaukee 1

Monday, Aug. 31: Miami 115, Milwaukee 104

Wednesday, Sept. 2: Miami 116, Milwaukee 114

Friday, Sept. 4: Miami 115, Milwaukee 100

Sunday, Sept. 6: Milwaukee 118, Miami 115, OT

Tuesday, Sept. 8: Miami 103, Milwaukee 94

Boston 3, Toronto 3

Sunday, Aug. 30: Boston 112, Toronto 94

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Boston 102, Toronto 99

Thursday, Sept. 3: Toronto 104, Boston 103

Saturday, Sept. 5: Toronto 100, Boston 93

Monday, Sept. 7: Boston 111, Toronto 89

Wednesday, Sept. 9: Toronto 125, Boston 122, 2OT

Friday, Sept. 11: Boston vs. Toronto, 9 p.m.

Western Conference 

L.A. Lakers 3, Houston 1

Friday, Sept. 4: Houston 112, L.A. Lakers 97

Sunday, Sept. 6: L.A. Lakers 117, Houston 109

Tuesday, Sept. 8: L.A. Lakers 112, Houston 102

Thursday, Sept. 10: L.A. Lakers 110, Houston 100

Saturday, Sept. 12: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, 8 p.m.

x-Monday, Sept. 14: L.A. Lakers vs. Houston, 9 p.m.

x-Wednesday, Sept. 16: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

L.A. Clippers 3, Denver 1

Thursday, Sept. 3: L.A. Clippers 120, Denver 97

Saturday, Sept. 5: Denver 110, L.A. Clippers 101

Monday, Sept. 7: L.A. Clippers 113, Denver 107

Wednesday, Sept. 9: L.A. Clippers 96, Denver 85

Friday, Sept. 11: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, 6:30 p.m.

x-Sunday, Sept. 13: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 1 p.m.

x-Tuesday, Sept. 15: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD