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Lakers Can Eliminate Houston, Advance to Western Conference Finals

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Lakers could actually learn a lesson from one of their rivals.

The Clippers had a chance to eliminate the Denver Nuggets Friday night but failed despite a 16-point lead in their Western Conference semifinal. Their Game 6 is Sunday with new life for Denver in the best-of-seven series.

What You Need To Know

  • Lakers defeated the Rockets 110-100 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal round Thursday
  • The two teams face off in Game 5 Saturday
  • L.A. leads the series 3-1 in games
  • Lakers may face off against one of their rivals, the Clippers, in the Western Conference finals

The Clippers got very one-dimensional Friday — only three of their players scored in the fourth quarter. Their season-long reputation as hard-nosed defenders also dissipated amid a 38-point fourth quarter for Denver.

The Lakers don’t want any part of that template when they play the Houston Rockets Saturday night in Game 5 of their West semifinals.

The Lakers took a strong 3-1 lead by dominating at the basket Thursday. They obliterated the smaller Rockets in the paint and outscored them down low, 62-24.

All looked good for the Lakers until the fourth quarter, where they got sloppy with five turnovers. They didn’t attack the basket as much, resulting in zero free throws as a one-time, 23-point lead dropped all the way to five.

Alex Caruso’s big three-pointer helped establish the Lakers’ momentum, but they’ll want to get out to another big lead today and hold on to it this time.

It would be fun to see the Lakers and Clippers face each other in the playoffs for the first time ever — but the Lakers need to get there first. Today could mark the final step toward that.

Mike Bresnahan is the Lakers analyst for Spectrum SportsNet.

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