The Houston Rockets did a terrific job beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 when everybody thought the Lakers were going to win, or at least have a higher level than they showed. The small-ball lineup keeps doing good things for the Rockets, who look very confident now. The series has just started but the picture looks good for Houston if the Lakers don’t make the right adjustments.
PJ Tucker was one of the main figures of the night, stopping the purple and gold on the paint, going against big men and making their life hard. He was the primary defender of Anthony Davis and it’s fair to say he did a great job. In 26 possessions, AD went scoreless against PJ Tucker, attempting only one shot and committing two turnovers. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon broke down the good night Tucker had against Davis, revealing he has been the best defender against AD this season.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, PJ Tucker was primary defender on Anthony Davis on 26 halfcourt possessions in Game 1. Davis didn’t score on Tucker, attempting only 1 shot and committing 2 turnovers. “That’s all you can do, is fight,” Tucker said. “We’re fighters.” https://t.co/C0JpFuTh00
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 5, 2020
Davis finished with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, but none of his buckets came against Tucker. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, Davis was 0-of-1 from the field and committed two turnovers in 26 possessions in which Tucker was the primary defender on him.
For all the jokes on social media about the perceived mismatch, Tucker has had success defending the 6-foot-10 Davis all season. According to Second Spectrum data, Davis has averaged only 10.2 shot attempts and commits 9.1 turnovers per 100 possessions when being defended by Tucker in the half court. Nobody who has defended Davis for more than 30 possessions had forced a higher turnover rate or held him to fewer shot attempts per possession.
PJ Tucker with the superb lockdown defense on Anthony Davis pic.twitter.com/okikCT8Wtd
— ContentNBA (@ContentNBA) September 5, 2020
lol Anthony Davis' best defender, at least statistically, this season is literally PJ Tucker
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) September 3, 2020
AD has a huge rival in Tucker. As James Harden said, the Rockets have a lot of heart and passion and PJ has proven that over and over again. The Lakers know that height difference couldn’t be a big factor after all. The Rockets are ready to compete and they already demonstrated they can make life hard for anybody.