Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

Kurt —  January 13, 2009
Sports News - November 10, 2008

Records: Lakers 30-6 (1st in West) Rockets 24-15 (7th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.1 (2nd in league) Rockets 106.7 (KROQ)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (5th in league) Rockets 103.4 (4th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Rockets Rafer Alston, Von Wafer, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Yao Ming

About The West: Sure, the Lakers have looked like the best team in the West so far this season, but if you think it’s going to be easy getting out of the Western Conference you are in for a shock. It’s early, but if the playoffs started today Utah would be the eight seed. San Antonio as the two seed would get Houston. That’s tough.

Paging Hawkeye and Trapper John: This is the Lakers M*A*S*H* unit update.

Lamar Odom has said he’s not quite ready to play, although Phil says he feels a lot better. It should be noted here that coaches are really poor sources of information about how a player is recovering, they are always the last to know and find out from the trainer not the player. Odom played full-speed 3 on 3 in practice yesterday but may or may not go tonight. With Odom it is a matter of pain management, there is nothing structurally wrong it’s just the pain issue. He could be back tomorrow, or it could be a few more days.

Sasha Vujacic has back spasms, and the only thing that could make those hurt more is sitting on a plane. So, he’s sitting at home in the last report anyone has. Again, it is possible he could play tomorrow, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He likely will not be pissing of Houston fans tonight.

Luke Walton is still wearing a boot because, as Phil Jackson said, apparently bad feet run in his family. He’s not on the trip and may not play until next week or later.

Jordan Farmar is going through rehab after his surgery but don’t expect him for about a month.

The Rockets Coming In: The Lakers are not the only team battling the injury bug. The Rockets tonight are without Tracy McGrady (insert papier-mâché joke here) and Ron Artest.

We’re fortunate here at FB&G to have a Rockets fan as a regular reader, and Steven sent along these thoughts.

The Rockets are coming off a brutal stretch of 3 back-to-backs in 9 days, with a Toronto/Atlanta back-to-back at the beginning. Houston (23) and GS (24) have played the most road games in the NBA. As of end of Sunday, no other team in the West has played more than 19 road games. On the other hand, if the Rockets can stay in the middle of the pack thru the All-Star break, their Feb schedule sets them up for another good run.

Von Wafer has been starting for the past couple of games. Von Wafer has been STARTING for the Rockets the past couple of games! I think that sums up Houston’s injury problems. McGrady has almost no explosive finishing ability. He can get past his man, but can’t finish-his shot is getting blocked by everybody, and he’s getting stripped quite a bit also. Battier is finally back — we think — and the defense looked incredibly better with him in the line-up, but he is no scorer. Artest is likely gone for another week or so.

Alston has struggled w/his shot all season. Other than that he has been good defensively, and sets up the offense, but…

Brooks has exploded this year. His modest numbers don’t really show how much of an impact he has. When he’s on the court the offense has motion and energy. He can shoot 3s from way beyond the line and pushes the pace. He’s the only Rocket other than McGrady who can penetrate and dish. Almost the entire fan base wants Brooks to start. Adelman has had him finish several games recently. Looking thru the +/- figures, Brooks and McGrady work well together and Artest and Alston work well together. Brooks and Artest do not mesh well at all, which bodes ill as Artest is slated to come off the bench when everybody’s healthy.(The starting unit of McGrady, Battier, Scola and Yao has twice the +/- per minute rate w/Brooks rather than Alston. Small sample, but indicative.)

Yao gets amazingly few shots for a team w/a crippled corps of wing players. If he’s fronted, he disappears. He gets tired after 6-7 minutes of court time and his shot becomes very flat and he picks up silly fouls. He is completely refreshed after a short break.

The Rockets live by the 3 and die by the 3. Their guards get more shots rejected than any other four teams combined, simply astonishing.

There are no leapers on the Rockets. There is no height outside of Yao. Gasol and Bynum should dominate the glass. Landry has not shown the finishing explosiveness of last year but he has shown a nice 18-foot jumper.

Rick Adelman has been fielding some of the shortest lineups in NBA history. Hayes (6’6″,heh!), Landry(6’7″) and some combo of Head (6’3″), Wafer(6’5″, heh again), Alston(6’2″) and Brooks(5’9″).

Keys To The Game: With what is left of the Rocket roster, their offense looks a lot more like Rudy T.’s than Adelman’s — get the ball to the big man in the post and put a bunch of three point shooters around the arc. To defend that, the Lakers have to be cognizant of who is at the arc and close out on the shooters.

This should be a night for the Lakers big men to shine. First, it seems odd with this lineup but the Rockets are not a good rebounding team, the Lakers can and should dominate the glass.

Second, we need to see more of the high-low game from the Heat win, and other interior passing, from Gasol and Bynum tonight. If you let Yao Ming stand there, he is really hard to shoot over and around. But, he is not light on his feet, if you move the ball around in the post he cannot recover fast enough.

The Lakers starters should be able to run on the Rockets, whose guards are not great transition defenders.

These are Stevens’s thoughts:

This game I expect a huge game from Kobe and a modest Laker lead turning into a mini-blowout late 3Q,early 4Q. But unlike the first game where I knew a blowout was going to happen, this time I think there’s a chance for a Rocket win. I have a hard time seeing anybody on Lakers who can guard Brooks, the Rockets get hot from 3, Yao puts Bynum in foul trouble and Scola hustles himself into a 20pt game. Possible, but not the way to bet.

Where you can watch: 5:30 start here in Los Angeles, the game is on KCAL 9 and nationally on NBA TV.

Kurt

Posts

125 responses to Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. So we have two guards left on the team?!?! Ugh, I hope Fish’s odometer doesn’t spin too much. But with Odom out I don’t see how he doesn’t get 40+ min a game on back to back nights.

  2. Poor Steven! He sounds so sad about his team. I don’t think I could deal with being so pessimistic all the time. I went to the last rockets-lakers game and had a blast sitting in the last row behind the basket. What a win that last game was. Go Lakers!

  3. Are we EVER going to see a healthy Houston team?

    I know we’re hurting right now too, but are they ducking us until later so we don’t what to expect? I’m just being silly, but someone is always hurt against us.

    First, no Shane, now no T-Mac (surprise, surprise . . .would it really matter?) or Ron Ron. I like statement games. Actually, the first 2 1/2 weeks of this month are. I expect a win tonight, and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, Friday, and next Monday.

  4. I actually expect to see a ton of our HUGE line up tonight. Kobe, Ariza, Radman, Gasol, Bynum. You can substitute Powell for one of our bigs, but with all the injuries this is going to get interesting. Sure, I think Fisher gets a lot of minutes, but with Sasha AND Farmar out we don’t have a back up guard on our roster that actually deserves to play in a game (sorry Sun). So, I expect for Kobe to play some as the facilitator and Ariza to see time at SG. It’s really the only solution with the injuries we’ve got.

  5. People probably already heard about this: on Yahoo Sports, it says the Blazers earlier tried to claim Miles off waivers.

    If you go to some of the Blazers blogs, the debate is over whether or not Pritchard should have been honest about attempting to grab Miles. There’s no debate over the morality of that kind of move, which is shockingly cold-hearted to me.

    Picking up a player in order to keep him from playing in the NBA? That, from a purist’s perspective, is just awful. And I’m appalled that none of the Blazers fans I’ve seen seem to view it as such. The Blazers have cleaned house of boneheaded players, but their front office seems to be picking up the slack.

  6. Snoopy,

    100% right. And they have the nerve to threaten a lawsuit, when all they’ve done in doing so was make a strong case for Miles against them. Pathetic. Fortunately the NBA blocked such a move.

  7. They would probably better just pay additional 8 mil to ask Miles to stay home

  8. A week ago Rafer Alston said the Rockets were not on the same page in the locker room and now McGrady’s been told by the FO and Adelman to get in shape and suck it up with the pain. It seems it may be time for them to consider moving McGrady or even starting over. I just don’t see TMac getting out of the first round with this team.

    http://blogs.chron.com/sportsjustice/archives/2009/01/memo_to_mcgrady_1.html

  9. re: Steven’s thoughts

    “I have a hard time seeing anybody on Lakers who can guard Brooks, the Rockets get hot from 3, Yao puts Bynum in foul trouble and Scola hustles himself into a 20pt game. Possible, but not the way to bet.”

    Last I checked the Lakers were -4 vs the Rockets tonight.

    If LA had one of Vujacic or Odom it would be a no-brainer call tonight, even with a slightly higher line [e.g. Lakers -6/7].

    That said, however, this match-up, as is, will be won by the Lakers … with the only question remaining, “By how much … more or less than 4 points?”

    Lakers -4 seems like about the right number to me … which means there will be no call coming from me tonight for this game.

    If you have an interest though … a team to keep your eye on this evening is the T-wolves [Min +1] playing at home vs D-Wade and the Heat.

    Best wishes to all.

  10. The traditional annual bug of injuries has hit us under the belt. Is it because we have injury-prone players or because our medical staff could be better? Watching Shaq reborn in Phoenix makes me wonder how much of an edge and difference-maker medical staff can be.

    It’s without a doubt a blessing that Lakers are so freakishly deep. Last year’s team (before Pau jumped into our laps) would have simply packed their bags and take a vacation for a while and we would see Kobe’s ridiculous scoring bursts. But this year, Pau and Bynum (at least recently) are picking up the slack and D-Fish is as constant Jack Nicholson’s presence at the Staples.

    Sasha’s injury is certainly a downer and I hope he gets back soon. With Farmar and Walton out, Vujacic and RadMan got the perfect opportunity to log big minutes.

    I just hope this does not lead to a desperate attempt to trade for some PG.

  11. Really interesting post worth reading from Kevin at Clippers blog:

    http://clipperblog.com/2009/01/13/the-180-shooter/

  12. Portland is so brazen it boggles the mind. Unfortunately for them, NBA owners are not the types to be pushed around like that. I bet some of them are jealous of the Blazers as well.

    That move could come back to haunt them in the long run when Pritchard wants to start wheeling and dealing again.

  13. KROQ…funny
    probably going to see lots more of Powell tonight, as you say, allowing for different rotations putting Trevor at the 2 spot…Vlad will get his PT in as well.
    better make the best of it.
    seeing von wafer come around makes me think about all the good picks we had to let go over the years, due to our depth, but that’s a good problem to have, yeah.

  14. I would not double Yao tonight. Let Yao go for his 25 points, but don’t double down, it would force us into to scramble mode and the last time we were in scramble mode against Houston, Alston hit 8 3’s against us. Make the Houtson perimeter players create their own shots, and we stand a good chance at shutting them down. On offense, we should go to Pau, early and often.

    The Kobe v. Wafer match-up should be fun. As a player that had to guard Kobe in practice often, Von probably thinks he has a plan to stop him….those types of plans always seem to backfire.

  15. Sasha’s abscence could be a blessing in desguise for the long term. Sun is going to get some playing time – whether he is ready or not – and he has to step up to the plate and play some smart basketball. We don’t need him to score much, just to defend well and do smart passes. Let’s see if the kid handles the pressure by staying away from turnovers and foul trouble.

    Had Odom been 100%, I would have predicted an Odom-Gasol-Bynum sighting for this roadtrip, but with him gone I think we may see more of Powell-Gasol-Bynum.

    Tonight should be a fun game. I can’t wait!

  16. Uh=oh…its the first game of a back to back where the Lakers have usually lost these games….lets hope that changes :)

  17. Headline of the day, from Knickerblogger:

    Curry Finally Forced To Defend.

  18. 11.

    This just highlights the sort of year that Darren Collison is having shooting the ball, as he is putting up an incredible 201.5.

    Of course, people will continue to look at his shooting form and then question whether he’ll be a good shooter at the next level.

    Hello, did anyone ever see Rick Barry shoot a free throw? It a’int how it looks going up that counts.

  19. Listening to the pregame on am 570, they said Lamar will be playing today so that’s some good news since Sasha will be out.

  20. That’s a great post by Kevin @ Clipperblog. The 180 shooter. That’s a tough feat to accomplish for sure.

  21. As an aside, I noted in the LAT box scores/blurbs today that the Jazz had a 20 point lead on Indy late in the 3rd quarter, but didn’t clinch the game (they won by 7) until the final minute.

    So at least it’s not just us, right. ;)

  22. Anyone got a link to the game? I dont get NBA Tv.

  23. #19 – that’s great news.

  24. from The Press-Enterpise:

    Journeyman Dan Dickau and D-Leaguers Eddie Gill and Blake Ahearn are among the point guards the Lakers have inquired about, agent Mark Bartelstein said last week. Ex-Lakers guard Jannero Pargo is another potential option, but he is currently under contract with Russia’s Dynamo Moscow and Bartelstein said nothing is imminent.

    If the Lakers don’t acquire another point guard, both Fisher and his teammates insist he’s in such good shape that he’s capable of handling the extra workload until Farmar returns after the all-star break.

  25. How does Jannero Pargo fit into Lakers? If my memory serves me right, he played well with NO last season?

  26. I was studying tape of Bynum’s offensive moves, and I noticed something small that I hadn’t picked up on before. Great big men (Shaq, Hakeem, etc.), when rolling into the lane (as in Shaq’s drop stop), lower their shoulder and use contact to drive their opponent off balance, and negate the shot block. A fundamental big man principle.

    Bynum, though, I’ve noticed, usually doesn’t do that. He uses his extreme length to get his shot off, but doesn’t do anything to rock the other player on their heels. I found that interesting, because it mirrors Bynum’s rebounding philosophy. He uses his great length and decent hops to out-reach others, but rarely gets low and just plain boxes out. It was interesting to see the same thing on the offensive end.

    Not a criticism, just an observation. Aggressiveness is a mindset that some just have, others have to learn, and others never get.

  27. 26 – IMHO, he fits horribly into our offense. Pargo is a gunner, pure and simple. NO fans were screaming for his head in many games. He became a running joke, because he would continue chucking up shots no matter how cold he was.

    When he gets hot, he seems great, no doubt. And on some teams he can fit the role of spark plug off the bench.

    Think of him as a less crazy version of Marbury. Couldn’t fit worse into the triangle offense.

  28. I’m at the game tonight and Lamar is playing from all indications. He is warming up as I type :)

  29. Snoopy2006,
    The refs are calling the game differently today and big men who lower their shoulders and initiate contact are routinely getting called for offensive fouls.

    Wondahbap,
    Yes it gets very frustrating at times,but hope springs eternal. And no,the Rockets aren’t rope-a-doping the Lakers.Artest and McGrady are being sat until they can play in a normal fashion.

    In the best trades are the ones not made department,be thankful you didn’t get Artest over the summer. For all the talk of McGrady being injury prone,over the past 3 seasons he played 1 MORE regular season game than Ron.

    As hard as it may be to defend McGrady,the truth is he shouldn’t have played at start of season. He did because Barry and Battier were out(Battier from overdoing his rehab). Then Artest wracked up his ankle in first game of season. Hou should have done w/McGrady what SA did w/Ginobili-they held him out a couple of weeks after he said he was ready. But McGrady didn’t want the team to fall into a big hole early and totally effed his rehab. W/one Hou columnist openly despising him and the fans increasingly turning against McGrady(on one board over 1/2 would trade him for Marbury and Lee!),things look rocky for Mcgrady being in Hou long term.

    BTW,Von Wafer has been playing well,but getting totally lost on D a few times.

  30. 28. I do remember him chucking up 3 after 3 in game 7 vs San Antonio in last years playoffs. I think I also remember the crowd groaning in pain as he continued to shoot despite bricking shot after shot.

  31. Von wafer the laker killer

  32. bynum’s lack of help defence annoys the crap out of me

  33. Josh Powell is going to be on this team for a while.

    The execution is getting pretty consistent and as soon as these Lakers develop that clamp down 4th quarter D, we are going to be very happy.

  34. I’m at work currently, but from the boxscore it shows that Bynum has 0 rebounds. What is going on with him?

  35. Von wafer was a laker right? (drafted in the 1st round, same draft as turiaf if i remember correctly)

    I used to play him a lot in nba live haha one of the better rated three point shooters in the laker roster.

    Haha i just thought of him as a mike penberthy type before but apparently he can start hehe

  36. Why is KOBE not doing his “facilitator” theme tonight.. I think it will be better for the team..

  37. kobe missing easy shots tonight

  38. Why has Pau only played 4 minutes tonight?

  39. Sorry, I mean Powell.*

  40. Lakeshow,
    When the Rockets have only missed 15 shots the entire half, there aren’t many rebounds to grab. Bynum’s got one rebound, but is doing okay, though I don’t think he should settle for the jumper as much as he is so far. Also, if Von Wafer keeps up his T-Mac in his prime act, this is going to be a long night.

  41. BTW, if someone needs a different link, this one’s much better. If the ad comes up, just hit “skip ad” in the upper right hand corner.

    http://channels.kamenosfm.com/channel-9.html

  42. 39 – I see Pau has logging 17 minutes in my box score.

    Looks like Wafer’s angry about not sticking with the team lol

    30 – Very true, but not to the extent that players can no longer use the move. Simply playing physical and rocking the defender back isn’t the same as when Shaq used to lower his shoulder and ram the opponent over. Dwight Howard, when he does roll into the lane, uses his shoulders to just barely knock the opponent back. Shaq’s been dipping into the old repertoire and has been using it more consistently this season. Duncan, I believe, still uses it on his running hook. Even Kobe uses it on the rare occasion he gets into the deep post; he uses his body to keep the defender off-balance.

    It’s true that it’s riskier to use today, but when players establish a physical style of play (a la Dwight Howard) they are given some lee way with the referees, IMO.

  43. what’s the technical on Kobe in the end of the first half for?

    Sorry just box score watching from work so I don’t really get too much info

  44. The Lakers must either adjust to the way the game is being called or stop complaining.

  45. Houston really defends Kobe well. A lot of his worst shooting games come against them.

    Yao is just murdering the Lakers down low.

  46. Somebody please explain to me how our starting 7 foot center has played 25 minutes so far tonight and has 1 rebound.

    Bynum has been a huge disappointment so far this year. Many of us don’t want to see this, because we were so hopeful he was our missing link, our bruiser down low who would do the dirty work. It is not panning out. Am I the only one seeing this?

  47. Are those basketball tattoos on Sun’s shoulder?

  48. This game proves that the Lakers have defensive issues. 60 percent shooting given up to a team that shoots 44 percent forthe year…ouch…

  49. When Von Wafer is outscoring Kobe Bryant you know you have problems…

  50. I wish the Lakers would show their strong side zone look. The best way to defend Yao is by fronting and I think we could disrupt his flow by essentially making him work more to get the pass and/or making him pass quickly out of the double team. I also think it would make Wafer a passer and considering how he’s scoring right now, I don’t think that would be a bad thing.

  51. bruinsfan, yea, I do believe that was a basketball on his left sholder.

  52. 50. Von Wafer could fill it up, that was never the issue.

    I thought the book on Yao was to front him now. I’m still at work, but why aren’t we doing that.

  53. Kurt,
    You got me on why Phil’s not fronting. We’re just not making Yao earn his space on the floor. I think it’s a combination of us not working and Yao just getting better at getting to the spots on the floor that he’s comfortable getting to. Either way, we’re not doing well against him.

  54. Wow. This game is too close for confort. Don’t know about you guys, but considering that the Rockets have T-Mac and Artest out and we have the powerful duo of Farmar and Walton out, I’d say the Rockets are going to give the Lakers nightmares.

  55. 55. Not to be critical, but when did people suddenly think Houston would be a pushover? This is one of the best defensive teams in the league regardless of who is out, on their home floor. They have the second best center in the world. This was never going to be easy.

  56. Rockets always seemed to have our number, from what I remember, partially because Kobe goes into this ‘prove’ mode against Battier.

    Still, Kobe leading our team in rebounds is inexcusable. Vlad being tied for second is just…

  57. kurt

    people assumed it would be easy since artest and tmac their best offensive and best defensive wing players were out

  58. Houston’s defense always gives the Lakers (especially Kobe) problems, as does Yao. Anybody who expected a comfortable win was sadly mistaken.

  59. Wow this is close. Giving me a heart attack.

  60. people assumed it would be easy because me and tmac were out

    and we are the best perimeter players on the team offense and defense

  61. im getting very worried that bynum is not the kinda guy that u win championships with

  62. Lakers are 1-3 this season when Kobe takes 25 or more shots a game…..will it be 1-4 tonight? That’s sure a lot of attempts tonight…

  63. 62

    thats not a very telling stat…he takes more shots when he needs to because those are the close games or the ones when teammates are not stepping it up. I don’t think that more he shoots the worse off we are, just more that he shoots when we aren’t putting them away with other resources

  64. The thing with Kobe attempts is that if the going is good, he doesn’t put up that many shots.

    That’s a kind of composure Kobe never learned. Limit your shots regardless of the situation or else it will just make you predictable and your teammates passive.

    I know he CAN take over, just not sure if it’s always wise to. Need some PJ injected in him and take a few losses…

  65. Stop! Kobe time!

  66. mmm…kobe

  67. great rotations!

  68. And we’re saved because of Kobe’s clutch shooting and Alston choking at the line. Ugh.

    Wow, Miles scores 13 pts on 4-6 shooting and 5-7 FTs against the Cavs. And how is he not capable to play exactly?

  69. Great Free Throw Defense!!!

  70. Gasol our new Lamar in terms of being streaky?

    Wonder what’s eating him…

  71. wow, could’ve sealed it pau? wth?

  72. radman in the final seconds? seriously phil?

  73. Man talk about choking from the line. And always get the ball to Kobe at the end like that to shoot the free throws, he never misses them at the end.

  74. I guess Pau shooting is better than Shaq having to shoot FTs.

    Anyway, another close contest, but a win. The gap in the west isn’t as great as the W/L record suggests (especially considering all thoese injuries) and I guess this game proved it.

    Let’s see how Bynum fares against TD.

  75. We won the 1st of a back to back and possibly the more beatable of our 3 upcoming opponents taking into consideration injuries. Horribly close game, but it’s still a W.

  76. 72 – That’s a bit harsh. Pau’s been a killer all year long, rebounding out of his mind, and playing so efficiently. He’s had a few so-so games. This is the time of the season when the grind catches up to you, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    74 – Probably a classic Philism. He’s thinking long-picture. If he doesn’t play Vlade now, what happens if we need him in the playoffs? Vlade making mistakes now is OK, but I think Phil wants him to learn his lesson so he’ll have the mental strength to execute down the stretch (defensively) in the playoffs.

  77. The Dude Abides January 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    For all those thinking the Lakers would have an easier time with T-Mac out, Houston has been playing better without him. Anyway, I love the way our guys competed tonight. And yes, even Andrew. He only got one rebound, but he was trying to contain Yao on D, both teams were shooting well, and he contested some shots.

  78. 79 I agree. T-Mac is overrated if you ask me. And a choke artist in the playoffs. But Artest being out was a big disadvantage for them.

  79. this has to have been my most frustrating game to try and watch tonight, because of the NBA TV blackout and all the net feeds were sucking.
    finally found one, in the last few seconds
    http://www.justin.tv/dwert
    it’s british nba guys and a good feed.
    i was watching some russian/korean feed and they froze it at the end just to mess with us.
    aaarrrggghhh I hate tuesdays!

  80. Was Vlad not put in to spread the offense?
    We were starting that possession on offense, I’m sure he assumed there would be an opportunity to sub him out on the next defensive sequence (I’m pretty sure there was – Houston called a time out).

    You could tell Kobe really wanted this one.

  81. That was a pretty intense game. I’m liking these close games that we keep putting off. It may be a little too close for call, but it’s damn entertaining. My personal notes on the game:

    VON WAFER!!! I just picked this guy up from the waivers. Who would’ve thought he had this much potential? He was not intimidated by Kobe at all and played Kobe pretty well even though he was undersized.

    KOBE BEAN BRYANT! Oh man…did any of you guys catch the look on his face after nailing the 3 to basically put the game away?! Stone cold killer.

    Odom had a nice game back. Actually made his clutch FTs.

    Shane Battier’s 3…who else had the flashback to the Lakers opener last year when he hit the game winner? Thank goodness Kobe was Kobe.

    The Houston announcers (NBAtv feed) were saying how Kobe doesn’t know Von Wafer and then kind of corrected themselves by saying Wafer was in Lakers and Clippers training camp. Uh…the Lakers drafted the man people! He actually played in the reg season game in a Lakers uni! Get your notes right.

  82. The Houston announcers were trash.

  83. On Andrew’s rebounding:

    As mentioned earlier, it seems that he uses his length to out reach the other guys when rebounding. But against a 7-6 Center with a pretty wide wingspan, reaching is quite difficult to do.

  84. People have said this already but it’s worth mentioning again, Houston has a deep team. Von was on tonight and, scoring wise, he was doing in the first 3 more then what you normally see from T-Mac (and I am one who thinks that T-Mac has diminished considerably since his time with the Magic). They didn’t go to Wafer much in the 4th but that had something to do with how well the Lakers were rotating. Houston got one good look at a shot down the stretch and that was off of a broken play where Ariza and Kobe had knocked a ball loose and it just happened to get to the Rockets, they rotated the ball and Battier hit his one 3 of the night.

    The D was played with passion and was usually smart. Houston was up for the game and made allot of difficult shots. I just don’t think Houston will play that much better with their two stars back in (Landry and Wafer will not play these many minutes or this well for long stretches). The only thing that Houston will have going for it on a night with Artest and McGrady in the line-up are players who want to take the last shot of a close game. I just think our boys will be playing better then Houston come playoff time. It looks to me like the Lakers are getting better on D. Also, have a look at the type of night Gasol had. He’s in the middle of a short stretch of off days. No biggy. All in all, unlike some of those games we were winning before Christmas, this was a win earned on a night when the other team was making shots on pretty good D.

  85. Great road win. What a difference Lamar Odom makes, the guy does a lot of stuff that helps a team win. Rotations on defense, attacking the basket, moving the ball from strong to weak, etc. The next time he runs somebody over, or steps in-bounds before throwing the ball in, give the guy a pass, cause we wouldn’t have won tonight without him.

    One quibble: Trevor Ariza was doubling down on Yao, leaving Brooks alone on the 3pt line when we were up 3 with less than 10 pts. I’m glad we won, but we need to be aware of end-of-game situations.

  86. ugly game. Kobe was off, though Battier guards him better than anyone in the league. He does a great job of recovering, and forcing kobe into Yao (who at 7’6 is kind of hard to shoot over. Pau was off as well. Good offensive rebounding, getting to the line more often, and Ariza being hot from the outside saved the game.

    On a side note, the Rockets announcers have got to be the worst in the NBA. The play by play guy is fine but the commentator is horrible. I have never heard a commentator complain about the refs as much as he did. Seriously it seemed like a Rocket player could literally tackle someone and he would complain about the foul. I had to turn the sound off.

  87. 88. you mean clyde drexler? He wasent that bad, have u heard boston’s colour guy, is it Tommy something? He’s a ridiculous homer and gets really angry as well

  88. Was that clyde drexler. I thought he was pretty annoying. I watched the game in mute.

  89. Clyde was my favorite player growing up, so I was dismayed to learn he is a bit of a goofball. He had a chat on ESPN today, and said if the Blazers had acquired a young Arvydas Sabonis they would have won “5, 6 championships, guaranteed”. Red Rowdies was a hilarious Rockets blog that used to skewer his malapropisms.

  90. When criticizing Gasol, remember he was assigned to guard Yao when Bynum was not in. This is something he cannot do and he gets pushed all over the place. That is an exhausting position to be in.

    The guy was probably tired for most of the night. Give him a pass when he has to play Yao for a good deal of the night.

  91. 91) “and said if the Blazers had acquired a young Arvydas Sabonis they would have won “5, 6 championships, guaranteed””

    He’s probably right. When healthy, Sabonis was one of the best big men of all time. By the time he got to the NBA his knees were shot, but he was still a solid player for a number of years.

  92. Incidentally, I think the Rockets shot over 50% tonight, so I don’t want to hear about our improved defense. I think the % numbers say more than the score, anyway.

  93. Drexler is a pain to listen to. So is Sean Elliot with the Spurs. No objectivity. But Portland’s (Mike Rice) and Boston’s (Tommy Heinsohn) color commentaters are the worse. Irrational at times as they let their emotions get the best of them . . . and not in a good way.

  94. The Dude Abides January 13, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    LO is on NBA TV right now. He just told Payton “I remember in my first NBA game, I dropped 30 on y’all.” Hilarity ensued.

  95. Sorry. Commentators.

  96. Gritty win. Extra props to Lamar for playing, wouldn’t have won it without him, and a very nice bounce back game for Trevor. Also, Kobe’s a nice guy to have on your team at the end of the game.

    7 turnovers for the whole game was also very impressive.

    I’m pretty sure the circles on Sun’s shoulder were the remnants of a “cupping” procedure – that’s an acupuncture treatment that involves placing heated cups on your body, and it leaves little circles like that on your skin for a few days.

  97. 95-Craig W, re Rockets shooting: they hit a lot of contested jump shots from 20-25 feet in their own gym where they’re comfortable. Because of that, our guys had to close out on their shooters, who then drove well and got shots in the paint. They also have two extremely quick guards (Alston, Brooks) who can beat just about anyone off the dribble, plus a great center who’s 7-6 and often has to be doubled, creating more open shot opportunities. What counts is that our guys competed hard on the road against a tough team, and came out on top.

  98. Kurt – please post this for the Spurs preview.

    I have lived in San Antonio for the past 9+ years. There is not another team’s fan base in the west that hates our Lakers more than the Spurs contingent. I’ve seen Laker road games in Houston, Dallas, New Orleans and Phoenix, but none compare to those in my adopted home town. I am not a bad fan, but I do support our Lakers…however over the years, I’ve had beer poured on me, plastic bottles thrown at me, obscenities hurled at my son and been serenaded with the south Texas favorite, “Lakers suck.” It is disheartening that both games in SA are on the 2nd night of back to backs, but such is life in the NBA. I know it is only the regular season and not the Conference Finals, but a win (again) would be NICE.
    Now that the Spurs require their free agents to not have AARP memberships, they are a better team. That being said, they have only Duncan in the post. Yes he is a great player, but we have Drew, Pau and LO to give him different looks. There is no other post player of any significance. None. Oberto and Thomas do nothing. If we own the paint on both ends, we win. Parker is playing the best ball of his life and Manu Ginosebleed is back to his usual tricks. Roger Mason has stepped up and Bonner and George Hill are playing solid. Bruce Bowen no longer starts, but don’t think Popovich won’t use him for extended runs. I hope Phil sics Ariza on Ginosebleed – two thoroughbreds going at it. Parker will blow by Fish so the help has to be ready. If we control the paint and boards and close out on their shooters, we have a great shot. May our legs be ready, our minds clear and our shots falling. We will get the Spurs best effort of the season on Wednesday night and they will be out for blood.
    GO LAKERS!
    PS – Derek Fisher may need a bulletproof vest after last year.

  99. 96- Agreed with all your comments re: annoying commentators. Heinsholn has always been an arse, as has Rice. Clyde is a Texas guy so that narrow Texas perspective is also expected. The guy that surprised me was Elliot. Always seemed like a gracious guy, but his annoucning is very arrogant and he is extremely dissmissive of other teams.

  100. 100 after seeing what you wrote, I hope we do put a beating on the Spurs tommorow, but it will be really difficult. For the Spurs, this is there biggest game of the season so far, just like Boston was are biggest game. Its ashame though of the misfortune that you have received from someof those spurs fans, because the spurs are one of the most respected teams in the league, true professionals along with their coach.

  101. 92 – Not as much exaggeration as you think. That Blazers team was already great (they won the 92 WCF Finals, remember). Add a Sabonis to that mix, and they’d be the most dangerous threat to the Bulls, and in any other era multiple champions.

    Very few people know just how good Sabonis was in Europe, one of the best big men in the world in his prime (and this was in an era of great big men). It’s sad we didn’t get to see the greatest of his play in the NBA.

    It’s true that European play was weaker when he dominated, but he still came to the NBA and averaged 16/10 on destroyed knees for a while. Is he one of the best ever? It’s hard to say, just looking at highlights.

    Here’s a great article on Sabonis for pure basketball fan, with some great video:

    http://www.hoopsvibe.com/nba-blog/young-arvydas-sabonis-could-handle-chris-bosh-dwight-howard-and-redeem-team-usa-ar48806.html

  102. 102 and all

    Don’t let the Spurs team image fool you. Their fans are brutal. It makes it so much sweeter when we win, but when we don’t, well it’s tough. Their arena (AT&T) is the worst I’ve been to and it’s in an economically challenged part of the city. I hope we raise up and get the win.

  103. 91) 5-6 championships with a young arvydas in today’s commentary would d represent inflation over the guaranteed 3 championships mentioned here :

    http://www.nba.com/blazers/special_features/Portland_will_miss_Arvydas_Sab-84264-41.html

    I don’t know, not a knock on arvydas, who is one of my favorite players, but a guarantee of 3 and possible 5-6 , I would believe. Guaranteeing 5-6 seems like hubris, luck, organizational smarts, al, l have to align.
    Arvydas was reputedly the best center in the world when young and uninjured.

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/johncanzano/2008/08/_the_people_here_wear.html

    After destroying his knees and ankles, when he could barely run or jump, he could still shoot, use his length to block and rebound and pass like a dream against our favorite lakers.

    One more link helps say it all better than I do.
    http://www.woofactor.com/celebrities/Arvydas_Sabonis/biography/

  104. How about josh powell and trevor tonight?
    Man josh’s shot makes it look so easy…I used to cringe every time I saw him shoot from the outside just because he’s a big man, now I feel pretty confident when he’s taking a shot (although considerably less so if its a 20 ft jumper with 12 on the clock).
    And Ariza, making things happen as usual.

  105. With a Houston defense determined to emulate Miami, both Kobe and Pau were well defended. Fortunately, Vlade only missed one shot all night and hit both his 3’s. Trevor also hit from outside, and Lamar drove to the basket for points and free throws. Unfortunately, Andrew got into foul trouble, shot mostly from the outside, and managed to corral only 1 rebound.

    Lamar’s presence clearly helped the Lakers, and his stats were almost as good as VladRad despite not being 100%.

  106. 106-LO’s impact is hard to measure in stats. Although it may not always show in the box-score, he affects the game, usually in a positive way.

  107. I LOVE ugly wins. Especially when Kobe was missing everything for 3 quarters.

    UGLY wins on the road are the best.

    Oh by the way, Drexler isn’t bad. I thought he was fairly objective. There were some calls he would’ve been within his rights to whine about, and he kept it to a minimum. Tommy Heisohn whines on good calls, and has all celtic fans think that they only lose games because of the refs.

  108. I like your previews a lot.

    And no offense to Gr8 scott…but while that was cool insight, do not use that as your preview…i think yours are much more in depth than that

  109. to 48 and 52

    no they aren’t basketball tattoos, its acupuncture. the suction leaves that sort of mark.

    its to drain out bad fluids? something along those lines. in asia its pretty popular as healing among other things. my dad always is getting acupuncture for his back and they always leave those marks.

  110. Ugh. I’ve had a time-sensitive post awaiting moderation for the past hour. The filter must have trapped it. Anyway, all I did was let everyone know that Lamar gave a hilarious interview with Payton, Webber, and Rashad. They repeat it about ten minutes before the hour.

  111. Hate the result,but enjoyed a very good game.

  112. Suction is not Acupuncture… it’s actually been taboo for a while to use suction and acupuncture simultaneously (as most things do, that changed some, but still considered rather bold to use both).

    Haven’t seen people get it on their shoulders much, most often done on the back making you look like a dice.

    Anyway, now we meet the Spurs.

  113. Lamar’s interview is on NBA channel right now.

  114. Does anyone else see a little Horace Grant in Powell?

  115. Just an awesome road win against a tough Rockets team. Gotta tip your cap to Houston for playing so well despite being short-handed (although Von Wafer and Landry both had better games tonight than T-Mac and Ron Ron have had in a while, so maybe it wasn’t such a disadvantage for them).

    I don’t have any harsh words for Bynum or for the Lakers defense; Drew had his hands full with Yao all night (hence his pedestrian individual numbers), and the Rockets were simply on fire from outside, so I credit their high field goal percentage to that and not necessarily to a poor effort on our part.

    Kobe really shouldn’t be able to surprise me at this point, but hitting that three with Battier in his face still took my breath away.

    How about Yao taking that two-pointer when Houston needed a three? That’s a boneheaded play from your franchise player.

    Oh, and I thought Drexler was a pretty lousy commentator. At one point the play-by-play guy asked The Glide who might potentially challenge the Lakers for supremacy in the West, and he literally named every single team that’s currently over .500 with the exception of the Mavs. Way to narrow it down there, Clyde.

  116. In other news, Orlando set an NBA record tonight by hitting 23 three-pointers. They also scored 139 points in regulation a put a serious beat-down on the Kings. Hope they cool off between now and Friday.

  117. Funny, I was thinking a little Ho Grant / little Worm in JP tonite, but seriously, dude is coming on! What about Kobe’s finish? I’m seeing more and more (and more) MJ in his game. Pure will to win. He’ll be the best ever, bet! Peace.

  118. lamar played some good defense especially when everyone else wasn’t. he made sure a few times to stop penetration or easy layups. good to have him back, we needed him tonight.

    and now here’s hoping that the machine will be back soon, sasha is needed when our offense goes stagnant.

  119. Clyde might not be too far off on Sabonis. David Robinson after the olympics said that Sabonis was the best player he has ever gone against. Before he had all the knee injuries and came to the NBA he could run the fast break himself, pull up and nail a 3. He was a legit 7’3”, athletic, could shoot, an amazing passer and had a good post game. I always kind of wished that we got to see him in the NBA in his prime.

  120. Houston played with heart. They couldnt miss in the first quarter including that oop to 5’9” Brooks. At every timeout Kurt Rambis was in the hurdle demostrating to the players what they needed to do, he was very animated. With about 2mins left in the 4th Phil Jackson was standing and actually coaching. Yelling out defensive rotations i assume.

    Gasol on Yao was painful for about 3 possesions till Phil decided to send a quick double team.

    Lastly we need to know what the score is at the end of games to know not to give up a 3. I know Shanes 3 last night was a lucky bounce but we need to work on that.

  121. Interesting about that 180 stat – care to guess the only Laker above that line this year?

    Pau – due to his 50% (1-2) ;) shooting from 3 pt land – is at 185. The next closest Lakers are Fish at 173.3 and Kobe at 170.6

  122. Why did PJ limit Gasol’s minutes? He was doing GREAT, at least, offensively (and he made a few GREAT defensive plays towards the end, even though TD scored). COnsidering how great he played, why did Phil keep benching him?