Rockets, Lakers have a bunch of similarities
Posted: Saturday May 08, 1999 10:52 PM
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- Mirror, anyone?
The Lakers are seeded fourth in the Western Conference and have homecourt advantage in the best-of-5 series by virtue of a 2-1 record against fifth-seeded Houston, but the Rockets don't seem worried.
"The pressure's on them, the pressure's always on the home team," Charles Barkley said.
"We should be able to come away with at least a split in their building," Scottie Pippen said, referring to Game 1 on Sunday afternoon and Game 2 on Tuesday night.
"I think we removed all the hype the way we played early on," Lakers forward Rick Fox said.
"We've definitely turned some things around, our attitude is very positive," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "I'm sure LA feels the same way."
Said Fox: "I expect if we continue to play the way we've been playing, the bandwagon will get heavy again."
"It's going to be a very tough first round," Olajuwon said. "If we can beat them, it will boost our confidence for the rest of the playoffs."
Pippen and Rice might be the keys.
Both expressed frustration with the way they've been used at the offensive end, and understandably so.
Pippen has had to adjust to usually being the third option after being No. 2 behind Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, and Rice had to make the same adjustment after almost always being the top option with the Charlotte Hornets.
Pippen played one of his best games as a Rocket on April 26 in a 102-80 victory over the Lakers, scoring 26 points and sparkling on defense with six steals.
After scoring a total of 14 points in two games, Rice scored 62 in the next two capped by a 40-point explosion in Wednesday night's 119-91 victory over Portland in the regular-season finale.
Should Rice continue what he started against Portland, he and O'Neal would provide the Lakers a deadly inside-outside game.
"It's important not to let [Rice] get the hot hand going like [against Portland]," Pippen said. "You have to deny him the ball and make him catch the ball in uncomfortable spots. He's a pure shooter."
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