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Lakers work on fundamentals while awaiting next opponent

Guard Danny Green says whoever the Lakers face in the second round will have plenty of weapons to bring to the series.
(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

The Lakers went about their practice routine Wednesday afternoon unsure of their opponent for the Western Conference second-round series that starts Friday, so they concentrated on how to improve as a group.

The Lakers will meet the Houston Rockets after the Rockets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-102 on Wednesday.

The Lakers have not played a game since Saturday, when they won the first-round series over Portland four games to one.

During his Zoom session with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said their practice was “all about the Lakers, the things we do, executing our offensive sets, defensive coverages, habits like transition defense and box-out habits.”

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Vogel added, “It’s really about our execution … and then obviously tomorrow we dive into whoever our opponent is.”

The Rockets present different challenges for the Lakers.

Pizza is a rare luxury inside the NBA’s bubble, so the Lakers took Sunday night to treat their traveling party to some.

The Rockets have two of the very best guards in the NBA in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. They play small-ball like no other team in the league, with no starter over 6-foot-7.

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Harden is third in the league in scoring in the playoffs at 31.8 points per game. The Rockets are first in the playoffs in three-point attempts (51.3 per game) and makes (18.5 per game), but are 11th in three-point accuracy (36%).

The Thunder are led by a three-guard lineup with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and sixth-man Dennis Schroder. The Thunder, led by 6-11 center Steven Adams, are first in the league in rebounding in the playoffs (50.5 per game).

“They are both teams with a lot of weapons,” Lakers guard Danny Green said during his videoconference call with reporters Wednesday. “So basically, we focus on ourselves. We’ve got to continue to just get better, be a better self. … It doesn’t matter who we match up with, we feel like we can come out on top. But we find ways to look at their offenses and try to slow those teams down.”

On the injury front, Vogel said backup point guard Rajon Rondo practiced Monday and Wednesday, and “looks really good.”

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Rondo had hoped to play in Game 4 of the Lakers’ first-round series against Portland after recovering from surgery on his right thumb, but back spasms kept him out of the series’ last two games.

“We’re hopeful to have him in uniform and in the rotation on Friday” for Game 1, Vogel said.


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