The Lakers kept their cool this time.
When the Houston Rockets showed off their dizzying speed and offensive prowess, outscoring the Lakers 41-23 in the third quarter to turn a once 21-point deficit into a five-point lead, the Lakers didn't get discombobulated or out of sorts.
Instead they regrouped.
LeBron James used his brute force to penetrate, opening the fourth quarter with a driving dunk followed by a running alley-oop jam off of a pass from Alex Caruso a couple minutes later. And the Lakers used their smothering defense to outscore the Rockets, 27-17.
The Lakers went on to win Game 2, 117-109, tying their second-round playoff series at 1-1.
After the third quarter, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he wanted to make sure his players didn't get discouraged.
He wanted them to return to Laker basketball.
"We understand that this team has the ability to make five, six, seven 3s in a row and go on big runs like they did in the third quarter," Vogel said. "To not overreact to that. To stay the course with what was working for us in the first half. We did that. And we were able to get our defense set and under control in the fourth."
James, who finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, took over.
He drove. He dished the ball. He energized the team.
"AD [Anthony Davis] is on the bench and my teammates looked to me to try to be aggressive, either getting myself shots or getting my teammates shots," James said. "And I got an opportunity to see a couple seams. I was able to attack the rim and also find a couple guys as well. So, like I said, every possession dictates different results and I was able to capitalize on a few of them."
Davis finished with 34 points and 10 rebounds.
And the Lakers got a few nice boosts off the bench.
Markieff Morris had 12 points on four-for-four shooting in under four minutes in the first quarter, leading Vogel to make a last-minute lineup change.
"Sometimes you gotta ride that hot hand or the hot lineup," Vogel said of Morris, who finished with 16 points. "The plan was to play JaVale [McGee] and Dwight [Howard], but we obviously audibled at that point." .
Rajon Rondo added 10 points and nine assists, finishing with the highest plus-minus rating (28) of any player in his second game after missing nearly eight weeks because of a fractured right thumb and back spasms.
"For us to have him back in the postseason, it’s a key for our team," James said. "He comes in, he pushes the tempo, he gets guys involved and that doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet with ‘Do. The intangibles that he does both offensively and defensively. His nose is always around the ball and he just makes plays for us and tonight was another example of that."
After the Lakers' 112-97 loss in Game 1, James said the team was taken aback by the Rockets' speed.
This time, they were prepared.
Instead of getting flustered, they fought back.
"Sometimes you need one game to be able to understand the speed that they play with," James said. "I think we adjusted from Game 1 to Game 2."
Now the Lakers know what they're dealing with.
"We understand how hard and how much every possession [counts] and how much scrambling and how much running and how much pace and how physical the game is gonna be versus this team," James said.