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Lakers’ LeBron James downplays Rockets’ unique small-ball approach

LeBron James, Lakers, Rockets

LeBron James and the Lakers know that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey decided to shake things up at the deadline, trading starting center Clint Capela in order to acquire forward Robert Covington as part of a three-team deal prior to the February deadline.

The idea was to add another wing defender and capable shooter to the rotation. In other words, the Rockets would spread the floor and play five-out, their style against the Los Angeles Lakers and any other opponent.

Houston’s small-ball look has garnered plenty of attention since February, but Lakers star LeBron James said it still comes down to execution:

“It’s five guys vs. five guys,” James said, via Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet. “It’s basketball. It’s not the first time I’ve went against five guys that shoot threes in my basketball life.”

James appears undaunted by the small-ball approach, though the Rockets have had success against the Lakers using this style.

The Rockets beat the Lakers 121-111 on Feb. 6, their first game with Covington in the fold. Los Angeles outrebounded Houston by just one board despite the size advantage, and the Rockets made 19 of 42 3-point attempts.

Houston got the better of the Lakers on Aug. 6 in Orlando, though neither James nor Russell Westbrook played.

However, the playoffs are practically a new season. The Lakers are feeling rested after dispatching the Blazers in five games, while the Rockets are coming off a hard-fought, seven-game series against the Thunder.

Houston will hope to spread the floor and capitalize on its opportunities from the perimeter, but the Lakers might counter with an inside attack centered around Anthony Davis, who dominated Portland.

Regardless, James is hardly awestruck by the small-ball lineup.

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