NBA: After near-collapse in Game 4, Lakers vow to stay aggressive start to finish

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2020 02:08 AM

The Lakers are coming off a 110-100 victory on Thursday (US time) -- one in which their lead ballooned to as big as 23 points, saw it dwindle to 5, and relied on an Alex Caruso triple to stop the Rockets' run late. Kevin C. Cox, Pool Photo via AP

One game is the only thing standing in the way of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers returning to a conference finals. 

With a 3-1 series lead in their West semifinals, they can accomplish that with a victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday (US time).

The Lakers are coming off a 110-100 victory, one in which their lead ballooned to as big as 23 points, saw it dwindle to 5, and relied on an Alex Caruso triple to stop the Rockets' run late.

"Obviously, we've got to be better. We got to close out games the right way," James said. 

"We get a big lead. We got to be able to continue to defend and to continue to put the pressure on their defense and not allow them to get back in the game like we did."

If they beat Houston, James and the Lakers would be back in familiar territory.

James made 8 straight Eastern finals with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but in his first year donning the Purple and Gold he missed the playoffs entirely. 

The Lakers, winners of 16 NBA championships, haven't reached the NBA's last 4 since 2010, the year Kobe Bryant and co. beat the Boston Celtics for the title. 

Thinking past the Rockets, though, would be a mistake. And Lakers head coach Frank Vogel knows this. 

"Again, we're not going to be comfortable playing against this team with the firepower that they have," he said. 

"We're up 3-1 but we're going to stay the course and stay the more desperate team."

While the East finals cast is complete -- the Celtics will face the Heat -- the West hasn't been decided yet, although it looks like it'll be a battle between the two Los Angeles teams. 

The Clippers are ahead 3-2 over the Denver Nuggets in the other semis.