Lakers aren’t afraid of change: Takeaways from Game 4 win over Rockets

Lakers forward Anthony Davis defends against Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, defends against Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the second half of the Lakers’ 110-100 win in Game 4 on Thursday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers dominated for almost 48 minutes and the “almost” almost cost the Lakers late in Game 4. Still, they held on and the good was way better than the bad in a 110-100 win.

Here are five observations:

1. The Lakers are still learning things

It’s pretty surprising to see a team be up 2-1 and unleash a drastic change, but here the Lakers were, inserting Markieff Morris, sitting JaVale McGee and trying out rookie Talen Horton-Tucker.

While Morris is a vet, and simply by making shots, he looked good, the Horton-Tucker minutes were more promising. A position-less player (or “tweener” if you’re an old-school pessimist), Horton-Tucker looked like someone who could just make winning plays.


That’s more than what you can expect when you take someone No. 46 overall, and you certainly don’t expect it in a playoff debut.

The Lakers are adding dimensions, and by doing it now, it’ll make them even better.

With the Lakers and Clippers each a win away from squaring off in the NBA playoffs, it’s time to embrace the impending showdown between the peaking rivals.

2. Anthony Davis’s quiet dominance

You can really feel when LeBron James takes over because he plays with so much force and power. Anthony Davis operates a little differently. His 29 on Thursday hit mostly with a whisper, silently being in the right spot – with a few exceptions when he loudly caught Rajon Rondo lobs.

Here’s the thing — his 10-for-18 night on Thursday was his worst shooting night since Game 1 against Portland.

3. Alex Caruso’s emergence

Caruso scored 16 – a playoff high, but more importantly, Vogel trusted him to play 30 minutes, his most this postseason. He’s been the Lakers’ most consistent defender on the perimeter, and he’s earning the Lakers’ trust.

The fact that LeBron James trusted Caruso in the right corner with the Lakers on the ropes late – you can sense that he’s earned the right to close games.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 110-100 win over the Rockets in Game 4.

4. Frank Vogel was the right guy

Remember when the Lakers were going to hire a different coach? Much like Pete Carroll at USC, the first choice isn’t always the best choice.

Vogel was great on Thursday night, the right lineup changes, the right game-plan implementation, the right tone. He’s not flashy, but he’s a really good coach.

5. The Lakers aren’t doing it quietly

There was a ton of trash-talking tonight from the Lakers, and a lot of it was aimed at Austin Rivers. Alex Caruso got into it with him which led the Lakers bench to get it into it which led to one assistant declaring on his way out “there’s no way that (guy) could even guard me.”

Holding onto a 23-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Lakers struggle down the stretch before taking a 110-100 win and a 3-1 series lead.