Following a six-day layoff after the Los Angeles Lakers made quick work of their first-round opponent, LeBron James said the Houston Rockets’ speed caught his team flat-footed in Friday’s 112-97 Game 1 loss to open up the Western Conference semifinals.

“I think it’s the speed,” James said. “They play with a lot of speed both offensively and defensively. And you can watch it on film and you can see it on film; until you get out there and get a feel for it [you cannot comprehend it]. That’s what we did tonight. We got a feel for their speed, and we should be fully aware of that going into Game 2.”

The Rockets’ rapid movement made the biggest dent in the transition game Friday. Houston helped force 17 L.A. turnovers, resulting in 27 points on the other end. The Rockets are now 11-0 this season when they score 25 points or more off turnovers, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“How do you adjust to a team’s speed? You understand that it’s not just about the legs moving; it’s about the hands moving, as well,” said James, who had 20 points but went scoreless in the fourth quarter. “They’re great with their hands. You understand that if you have the turnover, you can’t really react; you have to get back, quick twitch. Quick-twitch plays, because they’re very, extremely fast.”

James compared the Rockets’ roster, headlined by former MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden, to the NFL’s St. Louis Rams of the early 2000s, when Kurt Warner would sling the ball to Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Az-Zahir Hakim, and they would race to the end zone.

“You adjust to that by playing against it,” James said. “It was, ‘OK, we need to play them again.’ There’s no way you can simulate that speed.”

While it was only the opening game of the series, there now has been a pattern of the Rockets disrupting the Lakers’ rhythm: Three of L.A.’s four games this season with their lowest percentage of passes completed, including during the regular season, have come against Houston, according to Second Spectrum data.

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