Game Preview & Chat: Rockets at Lakers

Kurt —  October 30, 2007

Records: Lakers 0-0; Rockets 0-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers NA; Rockets NA
Defensive ratings: Lakers NA; Rockets NA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Ronny Turiaf, Kwame Brown;
Rockets: Rafer Alston, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, Chuck Hayes and Yao Ming.
Lakers Notes: Finally, we can talk a little basketball and not soap opera. Well, one last note on the soap opera: There has been a lot of talk about Phil Jackson saying Kobe doesn’t have his heart in the preseason. People, this is what Phil does — over the last 18 years, how many times has Phil tweaked a player through the media to get said player to do what Phil wants? 100? 200? That is what we are talking about here, Phil was trying to make sure Kobe’s head was where it needed to be, nothing more. (UPDATE: For more insight on the Kobe/Phil relationship and more with the team, check out the latest from Roland Lazenby.)

Now to the real news. Yes, Kobe was put on the morning “inactive” roster for tonight’s game (with Odom and Chris Mihm) but the official Lakers site says he is expected to play tonight. Remember, that inactive list can be changed up to tip-off, basically. I think we can count on Kobe playing.

In other news, Coby Karl has made the team in the 15th roster spot, although I’d expect him to see a lot of D-League time this year (if everyone is healthy Crittenton may get time there as well).

But the Lakers are not healthy right now — no Lamar Odom tonight — and health is a key to this team. They also come in off a preseason where the starters were none-to impressive, but the reserves were. If the starters struggle again on offense, look for the Kobe we all know to take over more. And look for the second until to have a good night again.

The Rockets Coming In: First and foremost, this is a talented team that won 52 games last year and got better in the off-season. They should be good — but will they be good at the start of the season is another question.

After years of the stagnant Jeff Van Gundy offense, the Rockets struggled to adjust to the motion offense of Rick Adelman in the preseason (according to both reports out of Houston and commenter/Rockets fan Stephen). For example, Yao does not feel comfortable operating out of the high post (something he is asked to do about 1/3 of the time). Rick Adelman said that if the offense doesn’t flow tonight, he will fall back more on low-post plays and pick-and-rolls that he knows will get the team points.

In one way this Rockets squad reminds me of the championship Rockets of the 1990s — team makeup. There is the powerful inside game (Hakeem Olajuwon/Yao Ming), a slasher to the hoop (Clyde Drexler/Tracy McGrady) and a bunch of guys who can drain the three. In the preseason, Battier shot 50% from three, Luther Head 40%, Mike James was 50%, Aaron Brooks was at 41.7% and Bonzi Wells was a perfect 3 for 3.

All that means is that the Lakers need to close well on three-point shooters tonight. No uncontested looks allowed.

Notes That Would Interest Only Peter King: According to the LA Times, Kobe Bryant’s Halloween costume is Lord Voldemort from the “Harry Potter” series.

Just a couple of links: Nate Jones said it well — Shawn Marion is no James Worthy.

Have seen the new official Lakers blog over on the team’s site. There’s lots of great info from practice and behind the scenes stuff, plus links to other stories and more. Combine that with all the great video no being posted on the Lakers site and you have to say the team has really made a leap forward with its Web site this year. We as fans have a lot more unfiltered access, and that is good.

Keys To The Game: The big key to this game will be turnovers — both teams were turnover machines in the preseason (the Lakers averaged 20.1 per game, the Rockets 18.3). Whichever team can limit theirs — and by extension limit the easy baskets at the other end for their opponents — will have a huge advantage in this contest.

While the Rockets may be struggling to adjust to a new offense, they still have some weapons the Lakers need to neutralize. Such as Kwame slowing Yao on the low block, and Kobe (and others) staying with McGrady. I expect if the Rockets need a bucket the ball will go to Yao on the block, so this is a big night for Kwame.

Battier will be on Kobe and usually does a pretty good job on him, so without Odom other Lakers are going to have to step up and pick up some scoring slack.

Thoughts/Prediction: Predicting the first game of the season between two teams that looked awkward in the preseason is next to impossible. I feel safe in predicting some ugly basketball at times. If I have to choose, I think the Rocket staring five is better than the Lakers starting five (sans Odom) and they play better defense, so the Rockets hold on for a close win. Rockets 97-95.

Where you can watch my prediction go up in flames: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) but as this is a TNT game the under/over on it starting on time is 15 minutes late. While we’re at it, what’s the under/over on Saving Grace promos? Take the over. No local broadcast in LA, but the good news is we get Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins, we don’t have to suffer Reggie Miller the “analyst.” To watch the game online check out the ESPN gamecast.

Kurt

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52 responses to Game Preview & Chat: Rockets at Lakers

  1. I agree I think a lot of the game is going to be sloppy. I THink the Key will be Kwame/Bynum vs Yao and how quickly Turiaf gets into foul trouble. There really isn’t a back up for Turiaf is there unless Mihm plays a little PF. Cook couldn’t guard a chair. I wouldn’t want to see him try to guard Scola, who is great moving without the ball and Yao is a good passer and should be able to find him.

  2. I think the Lakers win tonight and Kobe has a monster game just to piss everyone off and keep the debate going. He wants to keep saying he wants to leave while making those who hate him and want him gone get even more frustrated because of how well he plays. Kobe gets off on messing with people via his performance on the court. Its all about him. Like ARod, he is that special talent that people hate but want on their team. He knows he can control any trade so will act in a way that pleases him for the moment. Its going to be a fun year even if the results are the same as the past two years.

  3. Bold prediction Kurt, but there are points I’d like to raise up before I agree or disagree…

    1 – Kobe will be the biggest question mark. He could always sit this one out since he has that wrist as an alibi and have an excuse for not playing. If so, we will see how our 2nd unit become the first unit since they actually play with more desire and passion.

    2 – Bynum will be tested well tonight though it has been reported that its Kwame that is starting. I agree. Bynum’s confidence might be better if he is eager to go and perhaps he goes in the moment Yao rests so that he could get easy baskets to light the fire. Kwame matches up well with Yao defensively but if we are without Kobe, no one will be able to score the basket on that new 1st unit. Fish / Sasha / Luke / Turiaf / Kwame.

    3 – If we play without Kobe, media will have a field day of writing about a million assumptions – wilder than mine.

    So there you are. Its all about Kobe. If he plays, I think he will play hard enough. If he feels lackluster, might as well not play and give the young guns a crack at the spotlight.

    Therefore, with Kobe: W 96-90

    Without Kobe: L 88-100

  4. I am looking forward to the TNT broadcast because while I usually don’t like what Charles Barkley has to say, tonight is going to be very interesting, and entertaining, no doubt. We’ve all been seeing that Charles went public recently blasting Kobe for his own recent public displays, and personaly, I think this time, Sir Chas is probably right, (won’t really know until I hear what he has to say), but this whole media circus we’ve been living since the start of the summer, well, it started because #24 went public, at the start of the summer, so this brings us back to the beginning. I expect Charles to say if Kobe had kept his mouth shut, or out of the public/media, none, I mean NONE of this BS we’ve been going through would have come up.
    I for one, and really tired of all the media, trade, speculation, etc etc etc…
    let’s just play some ball.
    winning makes suffering all the more bearable, so let’s hope for some winning.

  5. Nice pregame write up. I don’t think it is going to be that close primarily because of poor Lakers defense, turnovers, and lack of big-man depth when battling foul trouble. I expect the Rockets to win by at least 10.

    I was at the game last year in Houston when the Lakers got DESTROYED sans Odom. The Houston crowd was so insane K.B. went to the Locker room with 5 minutes to play. Not a fun time for a Lakers fan sitting courtside.

    I see your point re the phil comment. My point is this: P.J. knows K.B. wants out, indeed everyone knows, and is being shopped as per his wishes. Because K.B. wants out it necessarily follows that his heart is not going to be into this. He’ll do alright, but he wont be all-world. Therefore, Phil calling K.B. out publicly is just counterproductive unless he actually thinks by making some challenging statements all the sudden K.B. is going to take his demands off the table and want to stay, which is just silly. No point rocking the boat. Shop K.B., let him do his PR interviews about “being ready to go” and go from there. So, unless there is more going on here than the obvious, I’m sticking by my guns and saying P.J. is an idiot on this one.

  6. Good analysis on the front page Kurt. There are certain battles I look forward to:

    Bynum vs Yao and Mutombo – Bynum went up against smaller centers. Bynum pushed them around. Yao and DM won’t let that happen. So how will Bynum match up?

    Kobe vs. Battier – Which, Kobe shows up? Pre-season or Olympic trials Kobe?

    Luke v T-Mac – Can Luke contain T-Mac? Can T-Mac stop Luke from being the excellent facilitator?

    Rick Adelman vs. himself – Will he turn the Rockets excellent defense from last season against itself? He stresses defense less than Nellie. See the Kings a few years ago. Will the Houston players figure out the Houston offense? Brad Miller could hit the jumper from 15-20 feet? Can Yao? Do the Rockets have a facilitator to operate the offense in Houston?

    The Moving Triangle – Will the Lakers use this tempo with their starters and the bench? Or will they stand around when Kwame and Kobe have the ball?

    These are some of the questions I will see answered tonight.

  7. Peace out Kurt and FB&G regulars.

    Kurt censors the comments like a drunk dictatror with an ax to grind. If you make a thoughtful post on a Lakers topic that he deems not newsworthy BAM it is deleted. I also keep getting told to slow down cowboy even though I post at most twice a day (usually several hours apart), which is terribly annoying. To each his own, but I’ll no longer be readiing or participating on this blog due to overly-aggressive censorship.

    Irony – this post will probably be deleted shortly….or when I hit “submit comment” it is going to tell me to slow down cowboy. Either way, I doubt the dictator will allow anyone to read this.

  8. 7. Jim– in order to have your posts stay up, you have to type a whole bunch of nonsense, refer to the players by ridiculous nicknames, speculate about all things under then sun, and then wrap it up by asking everyone else to slow down and just wait for the season to begin.

  9. Yao can hit the jumper, I think the biggest thing for him to work out is when to take that shot, and when to not for sake of the offense. But, for a big man, Yao is pure when it comes to stroking it.

    I’m interested to see what pace the Lakers play with, I’d like to see them run it on Houston that would prefer to play a half court game. Especially if our second unit is out there a lot, they showed they could play the running game. I am intrigued to see if Phil will allow the Lakers to run. Plus, Bynum would likely have an easier time getting his offense going if he doesn’t have to set up down low after the shot clock winds down, and bang against the likes of Yao and Dikembe.

  10. Mike in the Mountain West October 30, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I’m really curious to see the Turiaf/Hayes matchup. Our starting line-up is pretty weak offensively without Odom. Turiaf is going to have to pick up some that slack. Hayes is an excellent defender and will make a good test for Ronnie in his first start at PF.

  11. Great preview! If kobe doesn’t play, this will actually be the best part of the game…

  12. Kurt,

    I like the fact that you sensor the comments and keep it relatively on topic. If anything I think you should make a more restrictive and regulate all trade talk to a dedicated post. Other forums like Lakersground and Clublakers have so much nonsense that it is impossible to find a decent post.

    I love this site and would like you to keep it how it is. Sorry for the off-topic.

  13. Totally agreed. I trust Kurt’s judgment and feel like it’s the only thing keeping nut-jobs who just want to see their names on the board out.

    Solid preview btw. I’m excited to see how Bynum deals with Mutombo now that Drew’s faster and stronger.

  14. Kurt, i’m impressed. you should be a coach. what are you doing keeping a blog?

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing Farmar show us what he’s got. I think the pg position tonight will be key. Sadly I’m expecting the lakers to go 5-5 in the first 10 games, anything better than .500 will really make me happy. Once Odom comes back it will definitely be better and I will look forward to seeing the lakers go 12-8 in the first 20, not great, but not too bad either. From there I think it will keep a steady pace, maybe finishing 24-17 around all-star break. I would be very happy with that.

  15. Jim – You seem to have an unhealthy sense of entitlement. This is Kurt’s house and he can chose to run it as he deems. If you don’t like it, then might I suggest you wander over to Blogger or TypePad and start your own blog. Personally, I feel like this site is an oasis amidst the lunacy. Kudos Kurt!

  16. I just joined and wanted to say hi to everyone. Also, I noticed that the forum runs off my screen.

    Anyone else notice that?

    melanie

  17. I’ve always enjoyed Roland’s articles. If it’s true, as many accounts, not only Lazenby’s, have indicated, that Jim Buss is in way over his head running the Lakers, then how is it that Jerry Buss doesn’t realize this? Is it a case of fatherly blindness? Is his desire to see his son follow in his footsteps greater then his desire to see the Lakers succeed?

  18. It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiiiime, of the year.

    Halloween, Simpsons Halloween special, AND NBA opening night? I honestly love the end of October more than the end of December.

    What I’d like to see tonight, and this was is Bynum lay Yao out on the floor early, setting the tone for the game and the season. “I’m not a kid anymore. You can’t push me around. Your house is my house now.” Think about it, we’d be talking about it for weeks, and smiling whenever we did. (inspired by the YouTube post of Bynum and Shaq in an earlier comment – apologies for not remembering who posted the link)

    I love this game, so looking forward to tonight. Go Lakers!

    (another highlight of the season starting: sports writers have to talk about games now, instead of speculating and making stuff up about Kobe)

  19. 19. That is one of my favorite clips of all-time. Bynum dunks on Shaq. That is the mental toughness and fire that the coaching staff are looking for.

    The question is, can Yao and Mutombo ignite the spark to cause that fire? Stay tuned at 7:30 PM pacific tonight.

  20. Let’s go Lakers, I hope that Turiaf doesn’t get into quick foul trouble, and Bynum gives us productive minutes. I would also love to see the first team execute the triangle.

  21. Bynum tends to rise up to the challenge in big games (then throw out a clunker against a Charlotte). I think we’ll see a good game from him tonight.

  22. I thought this day would never come…

  23. @gatinho, I think everyone here agrees with you. It’s been a long summer. At least there’ll be basketball to watch to go along with the daily media sensationalism.

  24. Seriously! Who’s gonna start by watching the Spurs game?

    Oh … I’ll take credit for the Bynum-Shaq dunk….

    It was…. SICCCCCCK!

  25. Yahoo Fantasy Ball has Bynum ranked right around 90th, high than all Lakers other than Kobe and Lamar. This doesn’t really mean anything except peoples expectations that he might make some noise this year. I would like to see those expectations come true. Hopefully Phil will rely upon him to be the backup to Kwame for now and give him some real minutes. He always had a thing for Mihm, but maybe he could use Mihm as the backup 4 and keep Cook on the bench.

  26. My first screw up in the preview — forget Saving Grace promos, it was Frank TV I should have used. How could I forget after all those promos during the baseball playoffs?

  27. Alright boys, here we go! Get ready for one of the most suspenseful and dramatic seasons in Lakers history. We thought we knew drama before with all the Kobe/Shaq stuff, but this is going to be a crazy year.

    Right now everything is a mess and nobody is happy. As Phil has been saying throughout the last couple of months, “we still plan to win with Kobe”. I think winning is the ONLY thing that can pull this team together. If the Lakers somehow come out and win, lets say, 5 out of the first 6 games, the attention will stray away from trade speculation for a little bit.

    I think this team can surprise a lot of people. Our biggest problem down the stretch last season was that outside of Kobe, Lamar, Luke and Turiaf nobody was contributing. Now we can (hopefully) rely on something out of Fish, Bynum and probably Farmar. A little something from Mr.Mo and VladRad and you never know. I think we are better than last season.

    I hope the Lakers use this adversity to pull together and shock the world and make it back to where they belong… the Finals! I know I probably sound delusional right now but we as Laker fans have no other choice but to remain optimistic and hope that winning solves all of our problems.

  28. This has been bugging me for years, but does anyone know who that guy is that sits courtside next to the Laker bench and bangs a rolled up magazine on his hand?

  29. Has anyone been watching the Spurs game? Portland looks pretty good, a lot of hustle. A bit of flow.

    I hope our boys show some minerals tonight, and throughout the season.

  30. Glad to see Turiaf not commit a foul yet – and a nice and-1.

  31. Kobe is not running the offense, and I’m not cool with that.

  32. Not enough Farmar and not enough Bynum.

  33. Why can’t the Lakers play with the same intensity on defense the whole game…they started good, then looked very lackadaisical – obviously its tiring playing with the same intensity….but……………………….

  34. Not a bad prediction Kurtis, not bad.

  35. The comeback fell short, but it was a nice, defensive-fueled (based on the steals, it looks like) comeback. I didn’t see the game, but it looked defensive-fueled anyway.

    JONESONTHENBA,
    I know there was a stretch where Kobe shot the ball a lot of times, but after that, I saw (seemingly) a lot of points and assists from Farmar, Fisher, Walton, and Turiaf. What was Kobe doing then?

  36. I don’t care how many points Kobe had – he didn’t help the Lakers tonite. He would not run the offense all night and he was missing every other freethrow. He looked like someone who had not participated in preseason ball.

  37. 35. Yeah. I thought the whole new predicting the score feature here was kinda silly, but right now Kurt appears to be like a basketball Nostradamus.

    God that was painful. Good to be back.

  38. Kurt, you nailed the prediction.

    JONESONTHENBA, I also would have liked to see more Bynum, if anything I’d hope the ownership gets on PJ for allowing Bynum to play through some of his lapses. The more he plays, the better it will be for us.

    Thank God Fisher is back. From the TV view, I could’ve sworn he was set for a 3. Damn!

    Free Throws!!!

    Walton is a stud!

    I can’t remember who said it a bit back, but the point about losing with honor as a team could be better than winning at detriment to the team. Well, after the effort displayed, I hope the Lakers take some good things from this game, and I think they will. Amidst all this junk flying around the media, after tonight, I’m proud to be a Laker fan.

  39. Fanerman: That didn’t come until late in the fourth when they made their comeback. When he was in the game with Bynum in the second half, he didn’t look for him inside one time. The ball just got passed around the three point line and then Kobe would try and drive against three defenders and throw up some wild shot and look at the refs when he didn’t get the foul. Magic, Kenny, and Charles just said the same thing. The Lakers aren’t going to win with Kobe taking the entire team and trying to make impossible shots over three guys. Yes he can make them at times, but he’s gotta get the other guys going. Kobe is my favorite player in the league, yet I still will call him out when I think he’s doing something wrong. I realize that if Kobe would have made his free throws the Lakers would have won the game. But even if they would have won I would be saying the same things. They can’s sustain winning for an entire season with a 2007 version of Kobe v. World. Just won’t happen.

    On another note, I really think they have to play more Farmar and Bynum. The team plays much better with those guys on the court.

    I missed the first half. Did Vlad even play?

  40. I have to agree Jones. That is too much of a Kobe game, and not a Laker game. If you counted the number of times he was fouled, he basically took half of the teams shots.

    We need more ball movement, more Bynum, and a little bit of Critt.

    I can’t stand Kobe ball. I love his skills, but I’m tired of his one dimensional play.

  41. Kobe scores 45 pts. Who cares. He put up a lot of bad shots. Most of the time he didn’t run the offense. He just wanted a pick so he could drive to the hoop.
    Playing like that isn’t going to make anyone around him any better. And frankly, I don’t think he cares about doing that. I think he wants his and if they win… great.

    my prediction? 4-12 in the first 16 games.

  42. Pretty exciting for an opener.

    It is great to see Fisher back in gold. I don’t have much expectations for him for the first 47 minutes, but when it counts the man rises to the occasion.

    Kobe’s missed FT was done about as perfectly as you could hope for. I really really despise Battier.

    Odom can’t come back soon enough.

    And am I the only one outraged that Coby Karl has a roster spot? Seeing him on the bench just doesn’t feel right. There really wasn’t any scrub out there that was more worthy? How much does it suck to be Sasha Vujacic when he’s getting time ahead of you.

  43. This was our first chance at a real game–and with Houston, one of the best teams in the NBA at that. We were rusty, and the pieces didn’t always work together, but considering the drama leading up to the game, and the absence of Lamar, we were much better than I expected. I was especially surprized by our defense. It will be interesting when we play them again.

    Some thoughts compared to last year:

    1. Starting Ronny is a big plus.

    2. Having Derek Fisher instead of Smush Parker to end a game is a BIG plus. When Derek took those outside shots at the end of the game, you knew that they were going in. The last time I felt that way was, hmm, I guess it was when we had Derek Fisher!

    3. Splitting playing time between Fish and Farmar is about what I expected. Bringing in Farmar at the end with Fish to try to make a miracle happen was what I hoped.

    3. Big surprise. Who backs up Ronny at power forward, Cook or Radman? Answer–Chris Mihm! Good decision–even if it takes awhile to fully come together.

    4. Kwame is quicker and comes out better than last year. He switches better. His already excellent big man defense has improved. He’s still noticeably better than Bynum on defense–you could see the loss of defense in the second quarter when Kwame sat down.

    5. Bynum HAS improved on defense, but it is his offense that is capturing attention. He also seems quicker. He’s playing about the right number of minutes.

    The guys who made the rotation: Kobe B, Kwame, Andrew, Chris, Luke, Derek, Ronny, Jordan, and Mo.

    the guys who didn’t: Sasha, Javaris, Brian, Radman, Kobe K,

    When Lamar returns, I’d expect him added to make the rotation 10 strong.

    I like the decisions.

    I like this team.

  44. I actually wasn’t too upset with Kobe’s offensive production…most of his shots were going towards the basket and he didn’t rely too much on the 3 ball or fadeaway which sometimes becomes a tendency for him (unforunately bad freethrow shooting night or else this one would have been in the bag – wrist bothering him?). I also like that he takes the challenge guarding the other team’s best player (T-Mac), while T-Mac hardly guarded Kobe on the other end.

    However, Kobe’s aggressive defense got the Lakers in a lot of trouble. He seemed to go for way too many steals on the ball and allowed T-Mac to penetrate at will (either a dish or easy lay-up). I like that he played aggressively (unlike most of the time last year where he’d sag 5 feet off his man) but he got blown by way too many times, especially down the stretch.

    All-in-all not a horrible start to the season, Kobe makes his usual 88% of his freethrows and the game is over (and no own baskets from Kwame/Luke).

  45. Most interesting-and telling-stat of night:
    Both teams had 75 FGA. Rockets had 4 players w/10 or more shots,Lakers 1.

    Free advice for Rockets-get a vet PG who can run an offence! I’ve been whining for one for going on 3 yrs. Somebody who can settle the team down when the other team makes a run.

    Free advice for Lakers-get a playmaker who can create shots for others. Somebody who can get past his man on the perimeter and kick out to open Laker shooters.

    Free advice for Rick-Princeton,Schminceton,You’ve got an overpowing center.Park his butt in the low post where it belongs.

    Free advice for Phil-you have 2 strengths-Kobe and your kids’ energy. Turn the kids loose and give them extended floor time. Sure they’ll do spectacularly stupid things,but they will also hustle themselves into some unexpected wins.(Besides,the kids may be all you’ll have next yr. Let them get their growing pains out of the way this yr.)

    As always,free advice is worth just that,
    Stephen

  46. The Lakers missed 18 free throws (Kobe led that category with 9) played without their second best player and lost at the buzzer to a team that’s everybody’s dark horse to go far into the playoffs. I thought there is room for optimism, as long as Phil handles the whole Kobe drama and Kwame, Bynum and Mihm give us more than 11 points and 14 boards COMBINED. On the other hand we won’t have to see Yao every night and I thought the defensive effort against a potentially prolific team was above average, while I really liked what I saw from Fish.

  47. Kobe used 43% of Lakers possessions. That number is high, even for him. I’d say around 35% is a decent cap for him to stay efficient enough to make it worthwhile.

    I love athletes who “tough it out”, but why on a night when the wrist is obviously hurting bad would Kobe keep forcing crazy jumpers? Oh well, this is the flip side of being such a competitor. Many times that attitude will make me jump out of my seat. Tonight…not so much.

    Jordan and Andrew got about 20 minutes playing time apiece. Not too shabby for Game One in my opinion. As long as Phil keeps working them along during the season it should be good. You can pretty much bet those minutes will only go up week to week.

    Oh, it was nice of Mr. Bull to remind us he coached in Chicago so many times. I almost forgot he had for a minute during the game.

  48. It was frustrating to watch Kobe each time he refused to throw the entry pass into Bynum when they were faced up in the triangle. Bynum is a decent interior passer and it would have made a lot more sense for Kobe to feed and cut, drawing Yao to the ball. Kobe has to trust that he will get the ball back near the basket… and without the biggest man in the NBA at the rim to force a circus shot.

    Walton played a great game and made some really nice feeds. Fisher was awesome. They missed Odem’s offense a lot more than his defense tonight which is a really good sign (offense isn’t usually their problem). I agree with those who see the wisdom in using Lamar more on the wing and letting Turiaf handle the beatings. There were certain plays where you could just feel how Lamar’s presence might have changed the outcome of the game.

    One last note: yes free throws and too many “acrobryants” killed us. But, given that the Lakers only lost by 2 points, it must be noted that Walton’s freak deflection into the Rockets’ hoop was a factor too. Since we we won’t likely see a play like that again for the rest of the year (and possibly, the rest of our lives), I like our chances next time we play Houston.

  49. Doesn’t matter if Bynum plays 20 minutes if when he’s in there Kobe doesn’t look for him!

  50. Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio said this morning that Kobe was at the game 3 hours before tipoff shooting around and the Buss’ savior, Andrew Bynum, showed up late for the game.

    Good Job Dr. Buss in deciding to build your team around Bynum.

  51. In fairness, a refusal to trade an up-and-coming young player is not the same as “building a team” around him. There is a reason that other teams want Bynum: the NBA has a dearth of talent at the Center position and Bynum has the chance to be a really good post player.

    And, yes, Bynum was late. That sucks. But for all of Kobe’s pregame warming up, let’s not forget the distractions he has put his teammates through over the years. I’ll take being 20 minutes late over a highly publicized trade demand or a Colorado rape case or a war with Shaq or a youtube video ripping apart a 19 year old’s game. Nobody questions Kobe’s work ethic, but for all the great things he has accomplished for this organization, he has done nearly as much to damage it.