The key to success for the Lakers: Solving P.J. Tucker
- Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
- Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
- Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 117-109 in Sunday’s Game 2 to even their series at 1-1. But have they solved their P.J. Tucker problem?
Particularly in wake of Houston’s easy victory in Game 1 of this series, there’s been plenty of discussion of the challenges the Rockets present for the Western Conference’s top seed. I think it’s more accurate to say Tucker presents those issues. It’s his unique ability to defend Anthony Davis 1-on-1 while giving up five inches of height that enables the Rockets to get away with a small lineup that causes the Lakers problems at the other end of the court.
From that standpoint, the most important thing that happened Sunday was Tucker picking up two fouls in the game’s first seven minutes and a third midway through the second quarter. With Tucker on the bench, the Rockets were outscored by 20 points in nearly 12 first half minutes, enabling the Lakers to build a lead that allowed them to survive Houston’s hot third quarter.
How have the Lakers adjusted to Tucker and the Rockets, and how might that play out moving forward in the series? Let’s break it down.
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