Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

Kurt —  March 11, 2009
Sports News - November 10, 2008

Records: Lakers 50-13 (1st in the West) Rockets 42-23 (3rd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.9 (1st in league) Rockets 108.3 (15th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Rockets 104.1 (5th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Josh Powell, Pau Gasol
Rockets Mel Brooks, Ron Artest, Moneyball Battier, Luis Scola, Yao Ming

FB&G March Madness pool: .We’re doing an NCAA Tournament Pool, winner gets a Forum Blue & Gold T-Shirt. We’ll remind everyone on Monday, but if you want to get signed up early, it’s on. Thanks to Goo for setting everything up. We are doing this through Yahoo!, standards scoring.

Just follow this link. Then:
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Password: smushcalade

The Lakers coming in: No Lamar Odom tonight. LO doesn’t seem too happy about the suspension, but the way the league is enforcing that rule these days he was in the wrong.

I’ve pretty much moved on, as I think we all have, from the Trevor Ariza foul brouhaha. But the Andrew K. at the LA Times blog this morning had an interesting conversation with the NBA’s Tim Frank about the situation.

In talking yesterday with NBA Vice President of Communications Tim Frank about how Trevor Ariza’s situation with Rudy Fernandez (and others similar)Ariza might be evaluated, I learned of a common misconception among fans, players, coaches, and media (yours truly included). Whether someone makes a play on the ball isn’t the determining factor in assessing a flagrant foul. Or even “a” determining factor, really. Instead, it’s a matter of whether the contact itself was necessary and/or excessive.

In a case like Trevor’s, that can obviously get very dicey. On one hand, the league rightfully wants to protect its players, and Fernandez is essentially a sitting (or flying) duck while airborne. You don’t want to see him get hurt. On the other hand, where do you draw the line between contact acceptable vs. excessive? Ariza obviously made contact with Fernandez’s head, but he also came reasonably close to getting a block.

We all see these incidents through the glasses of our team and our emotions. Lakers fans think Ariza was going for the block. Blazers fans think he was going for decapitation. I guarantee if Fernandez had done that to Ariza and there was no suspension, at least half this board would have flipped out. That’s how things are, and while we need to be in the moment, some times we need try to step back and see a bigger picture. Even if we don’t like all of it.

On a lighter note, you can check out some of the lesser-known nicknames of the NBA.

The Rockets Coming In: I’ll be honest, when I first saw the Rafer Alston for Kyle Lowrey deal at the trade deadline, I thought “smart move for Orlando, Alston is no Nelson but he is a solid vet, an improvement.” Then I looked closely at the numbers and thought the Rockets may have been on to something.

Loyal FB&G reader/commenter and Rockets fan Stephen agrees and gave us his thoughts.

The Alston/Lowry trade has paid HUGE dividends for Houston.

Lowry has no three-point shot so he attacks the basket. On his drives he is either kicking out to open shooters or drawing fouls-something the team has been sorely lacking with McGrady out.

He pushes the ball, often continuing to the rim on one-man breaks and he is strong enough to finish thru incidental contact.

He doesn’t defer to Artest, keeping the ball moving and the other Rockets involved.
He has turned the second unit into a viable unit that has become very productive.

I have been steadfast in my belief trading for Ron was a mistake. His over-dribbling, ball-stopping, bad-shot taking, poor team defense had me yelling at the TV whenever he’d do one of his dribble, dribble, jack up a bad 3 and watch as the other team run the miss up the court. It culminated in the debacle in Chicago where the Rockets set a new team record for largest 4Q lead turned into a loss. Ron tried to take over the game, firing 3 after 3 and missing all but 1. Since then Artest has been a different player. He has become a complementary player, moving the ball, only taking open 3s-where he is very accurate-forgoing for the most part his head-down bullrush into the lane for low post play, where his step-back “jumper” is also very effective, and playing strong individual and team D.

This Ron Artest is probably what Phil thought he could get and what the Rockets were hoping for. When he plays as part of a team he’s superb, when he plays to prove he’s one of the League’s superstars he’s very bad.

Yao has started to get his groove back, but he still doesn’t get enough shots. When he is decisive and makes a quick move it’s very hard to stop him. Defenses that use quicker, smaller players that front him have been effective until quite recently.(Mainly because when the Rockets tried to reverse the ball Ron would stop the ball and jack up a wild 3 or make a horrible drive to the basket.) When Yao puts the ball on the floor, it’s there for the taking. A

Luis Scola has been on a rebounding tear of late and has been routinely getting double-doubles.

Carl Landry is getting back to the high-flying act of last yr. He’s also added a pretty nice 15-20′ jumper. He also will run and throw his body around on the offensive glass. He and Von Wafer are now the scoring punch off the bench w/Lowry being the conductor.
Von Wafer has been rather cold from outside recently, but he will still take it to the rim and finishes pretty well.

Battier’s shot has deserted him. He’s making an exaggerated bending motion before shooting, so I wonder if his heel injury is bothering him, it’s as if he has no legs. Brooks has been very inconsistent-which is to be expected from a second yr PG running the team. He can get by anybody, he just has problems finishing.

The Rockets are starting to lock in on defense and can shut you down for a while. They are still vulnerable to young athletic teams who run and jump, but they are not as vulnerable as they were.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers can get a lot of easy baskets by running tonight — particularly the first unit. I’m looking at you, Pau. Yao Ming does a ton of things well, but run the floor is not one of them. They need to run him all over the place, and use Gasol’s 18 footer to pull him away from the basket.

Some more thoughts from Stephen.

The starting unit of Brooks, Artest, Battier, Scola and Yao will go thru Yao and look to pass along perimeter to open 3pt shooters. They will try inside-out with Yao, but he still thinks before he passes and gets many passes picked off.

Without Bynum (and frankly even with him) the Lakers are not going to stop Yao if he gets deep position — so you can’t let him. You have to start fighting him for space at the free throw line and higher. Don’t let him get deep easy. DJ Mbenga will get some time on this, but Gasol needs to do it, too.

Stephen on Yao:

Any Laker defender at the top of the key should quickly drop down and go for the deflection/steal. When Gasol plays Yao he should use his long arms to poke away ball and when Yao lowers his shoulder do the big man shoulder bump, then flop on the second one. The refs will give a player 1, sometimes 2 bumps, but a third will get an offensive foul w/a good flop, and often the second will get one too. With that, if Yao stays out of foul trouble he should have a good game against the Lakers.

More Stephen:

The Lakers should be aware of Lowry pushing the tempo, attacking the rim and his willingness to pass to open teammates. Adelman has also started using Brooks and Lowry together so Farmar and Sasha better have their track shoes handy.

Keys to the game:
Who wins the battle of benches?
Can Lakers stop Yao?
Can Rockets stop Gasol?
Will Kobe get his efficiently, or have to fire up 30+ shots to get 30 points?
Can the Lakers get to the foul line? The Rockets allow very few FTs.
Will the Rockets be hot from the 3pt line?
Will young Rocket points burn the Laker points?

Where you can watch: 5:30 start on KCAL 9 here in LA.

Kurt

Posts

207 responses to Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. Great preview Kurt, and insight from Stephen. One bone to pick: Kurt, didn’t Stu give Sasha “The Machine,” and then the national media turned it around? For some reason I always thought that was the case.

  2. Can someone link me/copy Lamar’s comments, haven’t come across those.

    It will be an interesting game tonight as far as rotations go. I imagine we’ll see a fair amount of Powell, and Mbenga. Hopefully both those dudes have success as they’ll have another big test tomorrow night.

    Quick comment I’ve been meaning to leave the last few threads:

    Have you guys been noticing how well Sasha/Powell play off each other? Obviously in a game as ugly as Portland it wasn’t as noticeable but recently I’ve really liked their 2-man game, particularly Sasha’s drive/dish to Powell for a jumper. Good stuff from those 2 for sure.

  3. Switch over to…what Cleveland game? They are off tonight.

  4. Oops. Wrong day. I think you meant Celtics/Heat.

  5. Kurt has a time machine. That, or he has Cavs/Celtics saved on his DVR. Smiley face emoticon.

  6. Got the Anti-Celtics shirt today. It rocks!!

    Arrest used to do the same thing in Sac Town, dribble down the floor and PUJIT for 3. Always killed them: Luke stay away from Ron and give up the trey!!!

    Aaron Brooks is a scoring machine. He’s an undersized 2 guard. Best bet is to stop the dribble drive and let Houston try and beat us from 3 land.

    Interesting to see how Powell performs with the rest of the starters.

  7. I think to win tonight we will need:

    1) Luke and/or Fish to have a big offensive game. We will need a “third option” from the starters and these two are our best bet. If Houston overloads to help Kobe one of these guys will end up with an open shot, and if its Luke I’d like to see him just fire, no hesitation, just fire.

    2) To rebound. We are probably down our 2 best ‘pure’ rebounders, so it will be a cliche-team effort on the glass. Powell is a great O-boarder, but not so good of a D-boarder. Kobe, Fish, Luke, Trevor must all get into the paint and fight Scola and Landry for boards.

    3) Farmar and Sasha cannot let Lowry and Von Wafer go off. The battle of the backup guards will be fun to watch, lots of speed and chuckers. Sasha can’t let Wafer get open looks (he likes the 3ball in transition) and Jordan must play well off of Lowry (unlike Brooks, who must be defended from range, dude can shoot)

    4) Take Kobe out early in the 1st and 3rd quarters so he can play with the 2nd unit. This may give Ariza, Jordan and Sasha more space to work with and more confidence to play with. Rest Pau in these spots and let Kobe be the 1 starter with 4 reserves.

  8. tough game for the Lakers w/o L.O.

    this is also a ‘must-win’ situation

    for them after that loss in Portland…

    key to the game tonite:
    TEAM REBOUNDING

    – jayten

  9. This ain’t a must-win. Let’s not go saying stuff all willy-nilly. It’s is, however, time to get serious. No more mental lapses for the next 5 weeks would be sweet.

  10. Clutch824,

    Well said.

  11. i agree with clutch but i also feel the sense of urgency in jayten’s post. as i said yesterday, these lakers can win if they want to so that’s all i am willing to think about and all i can dissect for now. without tmac, bynum and lamar i would think we are a bit on the disadvantaged side but i have faith that one of these games our bench will erupt (and i mean not in a phoenix blowout way) but in one tight ride. the time has come for them to show up or i wouldn’t mind seeing changes to that lineup next season. but i digress. GO LAKERS!

  12. 81Witness,
    Artest has been deadly on 3pt shots where his feet are set. When he’s moving into the shot,ouch!

  13. Another game the Lakers should lose. Lke these top West teams lately, the Rockets are probably going to play this like an important playoff game. Dating back to that game they lost in Utah right before the all star break, this laker team has not impressed me at all. This team needs Bynum.

  14. Fantastic summation of the Rudy situation, Kurt. That, and tip-off in an hour and a half, will quell the sick feeling I’ve had in my stomach since Monday night.

    The LA Times reported that Sasha may start instead of Powell, going smaller instead of just replacing Odom at the four spot. If Houston starts Yao, Scola, and Artest, that leaves Kobe guarding Artest from the get-go… interesting.

  15. I for one do not like the Kobe v Artest match-up at all. Kobe tends to face guard defenders, but sag off when they do not have the ball. This leads to wide open 3s. I hope you’re not correct Stephen.

  16. I am so sick of hearing about Daryl Morey and Shane Battier. Aside from the original article, we just had Morey on Simmons’s podcast, and now truehoop has another anecdote. Its like the entirety of morey’s moneyball approach comes down to Battier. He’s good, i respect his game, okay, but he’s not exactly Robert Horry or even James Posey yet, so let’s relax.

    They’re becoming the bromance equivalent of Doug Christe and his wife. Simmons should rank Battier at #1 in his trade value column next year.

    But maybe I’m just bitter because I’m expecting us to lose to a 5th potential playoff opponent since the Utah loss.

  17. I’d like to see Mbenga at the 5 and Pau in the 4 team up for a while, see how that works. Pau at the 4 was a huge part of our early season success, and DJ can match up against Yao. Pau just isn’t that effective against Yao, DJ would be a better match up.

  18. 16/JD Hastings: the following are my excuses/explanations for the losses.

    Utah loss- last game before break, shortly after epic 6-0 roadie, no biggie, Utah is tough to beath in SLC.

    Denver loss-after back-to-back, anyone who watched saw we had no legs, no biggie, back-to-backs in altitude are tough.

    Phoenix-playing a team we had just beat by 30, they were despearte, since that win they have been skidding. Same thing with Denver, maybe some of these teams get so up for us the drop-off is worse than the win.

    Portland-Ugly game, we got spanked, it happens.

    Not to write off every loss, but I am still confident in this team and their chances, irregardless of whether we win tonite or not.

  19. Kwame, I’m not declaring that the sky is falling or anything. With our lead in the rankings, it’d take a disaster just to lose the #1 spot in the west, and I’m none of the west teams that worry me are likely to be at that #8 spot.

    However, even if I undertsand each of those rationale, it still equates to a pattern. If a guy has an excuse each time he’s late for work, it stops mattering after a while.

    Because even if each of these explanations is true, Portland doesn’t chalk it up to a fluke. Either does Utah, or Denver, etc. Especially Portland, though. EVERYBODY knew our struggles up there. We did, they did, the Lakers did. It was talked about, they were well rested, there really was no excuse and EVERY reason to come out as motivated as they did against Cleveland or Boston. The have something to prove in Portland. And they still laid an egg. That bothers me.

    Until this stretch, I was only really worried about the finals, not getting there. But as we’ve lost to these teams, Utah, NOH and the Rockets are all hot. San Antonio can only get healthier and Portland just whipped us. Whether justified or not, the mental edge we’ve held all season over this conference is evaporating.

  20. JD- Fair enough. I am also more concerned about getting out of the West than I was before. Not only because we aren’t playing as well as we were (which I think will turn back around) but moreso because, like you said, Utah, NO and Houton are all coming on strong.

  21. RE: The now-gone Cavs/Celts game, I got a typo’d email from some entity that had that instead of the actual game on television. And I was hurrying to get it up and didn’t check it out. I should know better.

  22. JD/Kwame a., the team that scares me now is Utah. I just think if they can defend the paint a little better without fouling they are a problem for us. Their bigs can pull our bigs away from the hoop, they have a strong and fast PG, can be solid on defense (but haven’t been consistent, at least until the streak).

  23. Team I’m most afraid of is New Orleans in the playoffs. With the experience they gained last year, and with their players gaining back their health, at full strength, they have what it takes to knock us out in a 7-game series.

    Other than that, I’m mostly worried that the Lakers will fail to get HCA throughout the entire playoffs. Their last 19-game stretch is more difficult that that of CLE or BOS, and thankfully we have the tie-breaker over those two teams, but just one more loss than either of them costs us the home court advantage.

  24. 23 – If we do this right, we can face the winner of the #2 seeded Spurs vs #3 seeded Jazz bloodfest in the WCF.

    With a conditioned Bynum and their bruises, we should have an advantage.

  25. Any streams for tonight?

  26. 18 – I like the thought, too, but my worry is that DJ would be in foul trouble almost instantly, and we wouldn’t get to test out the experiment for very long.

    Perhaps if Phil gave that a whirl when Yao took a breather, but that’s likely to happen when Pau needs a rest, too.

    I wish there were some update on Bynum’s recovery. Reporters can report on it if nothing new has happened in his therapy, but hopefully soon we’ll all get a better idea on when or if he’ll likely be back this season.

  27. “Can’t report on it,” I meant to type…

    I wish Kurt would add an edit feature that might let a poster fix their own posts, or at least preview them before posting. I always try to type correctly and too often I see mistakes in my posts that I immediately wish I could take back. Oh well.

  28. Found one here, select Stream 1. They will change over at 5:30 PM:

    http://www.dwert.tk/

  29. There’s still a lot of time for the Lakers to start playing better. I was very concerned that after some of the recent slippage, they had none of the prior excuses going in the Portland game.

    Utah, definitely scares me most, but if this team can’t find a way to win in Portland, all it will take is one poorly played game at home. And neither Houston, SAS nor NOH would be pushovers. Dallas doesn’t worry me too much. If we meet them in the first round, that’s just more time to get right. So more hope there, but this slippage to the West also hurts us in the quest to get home court over the Cavs and Celts.

  30. I’d rather we play Yao straight up and let him get 30 than let Brooks, Battier, Wafer, Barry, et. al, get it going from beyond the arc on 3pt shots that are a result of us scrambling after a double on the big man.

  31. I got a sinking feeling Bynum is not coming back. Anywho I would love to see effort tonight, just show that they actually care to be there.

  32. 32. Why? They said Bynum would be back in April. He is exercising and riding a bike. Every rumor I hear is he is at or ahead of schedule. I guess some like to be pessimistic.

    I am going to the game Sunday, I’ll see what people are saying.

  33. Devil Advocate: Didn’t the Bynum injury go EXACTLY the same way last year?

  34. looks like Phil is opting for luke with the 2nd unit to facilitate their offense. interesting experiment.

  35. Clutch824-No. I am not a doctor, but the injuries seem different, therefore I expect the recovery time to be different. Also, he knows his body better and how to rehab it better too. At least, one can hope…right?

  36. fishhhhh

  37. Rebounding is going to be key to tonight’s game. So far so good.

  38. PUJIT! Heat check for Fish.

  39. Fish reeaaalllly needs to slow down.

  40. so many turnovers…

  41. Ok… These announcers are golden.. What a great way to watch a game. Very balanced very clean. Much love texas.

  42. 36 – Oh, I’m definitely hoping! My belief we can get out the west without him is waning…

  43. Yes, the Rockets announcers seem very even and are not wild maniac homers. Definitely refreshing.

  44. 43-Thats fair clutch. It defintley will not be a “duckwalk”.

  45. The Rockets announcements are quite good. I just switched to a Spanish feed–ever better!

  46. FSN Houston sucks, they didn’t even replay the alley-oop!!

  47. Lakers are showing increased focus in this game. Always a good sight to see. I also like Kobe’s patience with the offense.

  48. E-ROC – Very good points. They are playing on both ends with a purpose (though a little sloppy at times, that’s OK). Kobe’s efficiency has been great as well…I’d love to see him conserve his energy on the offensive end so that he’s ready for the 4th.

  49. lookingforalink March 11, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    link?

  50. why hasn’t pj subbed Gasol yet?

  51. if we stop turning the ball over I’ll be much, much happier.

  52. 51,

    I think Pau is needed in the game when the bench players are subbed in. Pau gives them a post player and an ‘easy’ look at the basket. They should be running the offense through Pau. Hopefully, this happens. Without Pau in the game, who would be your go-to guy?

  53. Fisher plays out of control for a few minutes then passes the torch to Sasha.

  54. Apparently one humiliating game wasn’t enough this week…the Lakers are interested in another one.

  55. Anyone want to watch the paint?

  56. Jeez…the Lakers are pretty thin inside without Bynum and LO. And Pau can’t play 48 minutes.

    /Mr Stating the Obvious

  57. Mbenga: Hands UP!!!

  58. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Did Phil actually leave Pau in for the first 18 1/2 consecutive minutes of the game? Did he not notice that Pau was dragging during that 14-0 run by Houston? DJ’s PER is 21.22. That isn’t exactly chopped liver, albeit a small sample size. But it’s pretty damn good for a backup center.

  59. If I break my coffee table out of frustration, can I submit an expense report to the Lakers?

  60. wow PJ left MBenga in

  61. Nonexistent (non-ig-zis-tuhnt): Lakers interior defense

  62. Mbenga, get your HANDS UP!!!!

  63. Get MBenga out of there. Refuses to play elementary school defense.

  64. I know the Lakers are missing two of their best players but that doesn’t excuse a lack of effort.

  65. One bright spot for that half – did you guys see that block by Kobe??

    He just caught the ball and slammed it downwards with two hands. That’s gotta be one of the sickest, most nonchalant blocks ever.

  66. Now Kobe’s passing of the ball has disappeared. :(

  67. Kurt I’m not being pessimistic didn’t we have sweet work out videos or Bynum and how he was returning in two weeks last year? Didn’t turn out to well.

    Im holding the stance of won’t be back until proven otherwise aka hes actually ON the court. Don’t see it happening though.

    Would be nice to have him this game as the interior D is same old same old. Anywho turning game off to study GRE weee

  68. Why would you study for the GRE?

  69. If the Lakers keep playing this way, then I’d rather study for the SAT…and I finished high school nine years ago.

  70. @66, Ryan

    Because in a horrible economy, everyone goes back to grad-school; students like me can’t compete evenly with people who also have years of work experience in a specific field. Even then, there’s still like 40-50 applicants for maybe 4-5 spots in the doctorate program…

  71. I am a grad student, but I never studied for the GRE I signed up to take it two days for I did. It was kind off a joke. Though I did study for the MCAT but then decided I wanted to do research instead.

  72. Gasol needs to stand his ground better than that so the double can work.

  73. It’s funny how neither Pau nor Yao are getting any boards since they are both boxing out eachother. Instead Scola picks up all the loose balls.

  74. I like Powell’s energy right now. Good o-rebounding and put backs.

  75. bad pass by 24. Threw right nto a double team. Needs to play smarter and dare his teammates to step up right now.

  76. The Lakers run an iso for Kobe, why don’t the role players cut to the basket? They are just stationary. Those players should cut to the basket, and if the opportunity isn’t there, return back to their spot. I think easy baskets are possible given that the defender might be watching the ball instead of the ball and their man.

  77. Wade and the Heat just finished the Leps. Thanks Wade for helping us out.

  78. Outstanding passing on that last possession by the Lakers. Ariza has to hit that shot!

  79. I never studied for the General GRE either. I am studying a little for the Math subject GRE though, mostly because i forgot most of the material.

  80. Anyone have a link that’s working? I have one but the audio is 10 seconds behind the video…

  81. This is probably the first time I have ever seen the bench be patient for a long period of time on offense. They dumped the ball to Gasol in the post consecutive possessions. That has to be a record.

  82. I like how the bench was running the ball through Pau this time around, if they would do that more often, the offence would be more efficient.

    But one almost forgets how well they were playing when they had LO out there along with them (together with either Pau or Drew).

  83. Pull Farmar, he’s ice cold.

  84. How does Farmar miss that layup?

  85. Now if Powell only could start making those open dunks. Maybe throw in a pumpfake every now and then?:)

  86. Artest misses the PUJIT, more of that please.

  87. We’re blowing a lot of opportunities…I wonder if the guys are starting to lose their gas.

  88. Farmar went left handed, but no excuse for an NBA player.

  89. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    86. Little guys like Farmar are always conscious of bigger shotblockers, and sometimes have trouble finishing at the rim. I agree that Jordan shouldn’t worry about Scola, but sometimes that’s going to happen when you lay it up with your off hand.

  90. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Hmm…the moderation genie has trapped one of my posts for two hours and counting…

  91. It would be nice if Powell can to catch the ball underneath the basket and turn these misses/foul or blocks/outabounds into a basket and one. Maybe he can work on his hesitation/timing or pump fake move.

  92. Sorry for the slow moderation, stuck at a meeting and the phone was dead, I’m back now.

    Artest seems to be wanting to be the man. That is good for us.

  93. Hopefully it doesn’t get Kobe into Kobe dominating mode. Kobe likes challenges, especially “who da man” challenges.

  94. Keep doin’ yo thang Ron Ron.

  95. That’s what I’m worried about, Kobe face guarding and giving up the D-drive.

  96. Magic, if Kobe and Artest go mano a mano, I like our chances a lot.

    Artest plays dumb, going after that steal with 5 seconds on the clock, for example. But you can’t cage a pit bull, which is one reason not to own a pit bull.

  97. #97, but Kobe is also the best player when he’s mad =)

  98. kobe bryant is taking over this game with no regard for human life

    btw, im so glad the lakers jerseys dont have the super wide shoulders of the rockets’. it looks like they are wearing pillow cases!

  99. magic: Kobe seems to be in a controlled “who da man”-mode so far though. Let’s hope it stays that way. A little bit of “who da man” is good, as long as it’s not too much.

    How about some p&r with Kobe and Pau to finish this one off?

  100. Maybe it’s just perception due to the abuse I suffered during the blazers game, but are these announcers really good or is it just so refreshing to not have to hear the blatant homerism?

  101. Fish, Fish, Fish…..

  102. Wow, did I get home and turn the TV on at the wrong time… that was not a smart foul!

  103. Really Fisher? My goodness!

  104. That was a dumb foul, if I have ever seen one.

  105. Why did the Moneyball team trade for Artest again? Did they watch him last year?

  106. You guys should try listening to the radio announcers for the Rockets cause they’re complete opposites from the TV announcers.

  107. Stop! Kobe time!

  108. Kobe time!

  109. Oh, that Kobe Bryant.

  110. KB24, we will be OK.

  111. Rebounds!

  112. Luke could be an unsung hero in this game…*knocks on wood*

  113. Kobe’s in mamba mode.

  114. That pull up was right out of stuff he talked about on the video from TIME, hide the ball off his hip, set his legs while he looked like he was still driving, good look on the pull up.

  115. These Rockets commentators are very impartial…

  116. Where’s my MVP chant? i want to hear some MVP!!!

    Does LBJ, do this? No! It’s Kobe time!!

  117. Drat, Joel beat me to it! :D

    These Houston TV announcers are surprisingly good. They actually seem to try to call the game and offers some sort of analysis, instead of just cheering blindly.

    I know I have missed over 80% of the game, but Pau seems to be doing well. Has he played Yao like this all night?

  118. Did I mention it was Kobe time?

  119. Now we have to close out on the 3 shooters. It helps that they are shooting horribly behind the line.

  120. STATISTICS CAN’T HELP YOU THERE, BATTIER.

  121. Kobe kobe kobe….

  122. MVP!! MVP!!!

  123. nice one, moneyball.

  124. lol @ m0nkeydump.

  125. I like these announcers! They’re calling Kobe mvp. That’s as impartial as it gets.

  126. 121

    They’re still somewhat homerish, but when you’re coming off 48 minutes with Portland’s crew anything seems fair and objective.

  127. After watching this game and others that Kobe has taken over, are there any doubts who the MVP is this year?

  128. Kurt-
    Something I’ve been watching for (and seen repeatedly) tonight has been Kobe’s “shield the offensive player’s strong hand” defense. It’s amazing to see it in action…I’ve just never really noticed it.

  129. Well… when Kobe is owning the floor the way he is right now, what else can you say…?

  130. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Good one monkeydump…hahaha

  131. Totally agree with everyone: These announcers are class acts. If more announcers were like these guys, it wouldn’t be too bad to hear the other teams’ announcers. (In fact – it wouldn’t be bad at all.)

    Also the p&r with Kobe and Pau? Too good.

  132. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    OK, I’m officially hoping that Houston gets the 4th seed, and wins its first round matchup. They just don’t have enough offense to beat us.

  133. Josh Powell looked better than Lamar Odom tonight. He stayed within his game and got more comfortable as the game wore on.

  134. Dacos!!! Great second half by the lakers. Oh and that Kobe guy is pretty good.

  135. This was a huge gut check for the Lakers. No Odom, against a team that had won 12 straight at home, and down 11 at half-time (not sure why since I didn’t see the first half), and they scrape out a victory. The aggressive strong side defense completely discombobulated whatever the Rockets were doing and kept it close for Kobe to take over in the clutch. Great win.

  136. watching artest go for that steal & fail along with how stupid kobe made him look, falling on his face, was the defining play of the game for me.

  137. Very nice. We got another streak breaking win! Rockets 12 home game streak. Lakers, where streak breaking happens.

  138. Portland is losing right now at home against the Mavericks. I guess they are coming back down to earth after that Laker high.

  139. 124!!!!
    Dude hell yeah! I have been thinking that since i read that damn bs article…

    Statistics is for female dogs Battier

  140. Is it just me or does Artest not defend Kobe particularly well? I would have had Battier on him exclusively if I were Rick Adelman. Artest just gets Kobe mad which is a suicidal strategy.

  141. Kurt,
    Re your 109. The Rockets tried to trade for him last yr at the deadline. But Sac wanted Brooks and the Rockets were afraid Ron would opt out.

    If you all saw the Second Half,you know why I’ve said the Lakers were fortunate they weren’t able to trade for Ron.

    Just to exact some revenge for tonite ;) here’s a scary thought. The Lakers might let Lamar walk in order to sign Ron this summer.

  142. Just saw the box score. I love Jackson’s choice for starting front court: Ariza and Powell. Seems to have worked out quite well.

  143. Joel,
    I think you’re absolutely right. Artest tries to get “physical” which means that from Kobe’s point of view, Artest is trying to push him around. That makes him angry, and he gets into this “I’m going to out-play you to show you how much better than you I am”-type mentality that seems to work really well if you’re on the Lakers. Battier doesn’t make it personal the way Artest does.

  144. couple of thoughts:

    1) doesn’t it seem like every year Yao dominates us in the first half, and then in the 2nd half we completely shut him down? I’m not sure if we unveil a new double team technique at halftime or what, but I like it.

    2) this game was definitely a tale of two halves – the 2nd half they were the ones turning it over and giving up 2nd chance points.

    3) our bench probably still got outscored by theirs, but i thought luke and sasha were really key in that 2nd half. Luke for providing a burst of scoring late, and sasha for playing a calm, controlled game and scrapping for a couple of key loose balls.

    4) god, i wish i could have been on the floor to hear what kobe and artest were jawing about all throughout garbage time. hilarious. i wonder if there’s genuine bad blood there, cause i remember watching a clip of artest interviewing kobe and it seemed like they were best friends.

  145. I loved that Powell played showed so well. That’s a wake-up call for Lamar Odom. Hope this motivates him to come back strong for this road trip.

  146. Pretty good game. The effort in the 1st half was off, but the guys more than made up for it by playing some pretty good defense in the 2nd half. Some game notes…

    1.) The team really needs some dunking drills during practice. Luke and Josh had a couple of easy dunks that ended up getting blocked or they got fouled instead of them crushing it through the basket. I know Luke is white and all, but c’mon, you should be able to dunk from point blank. Josh I’m a little more worried about, because he is big and in the bruiser mold, so he should be able to go up through contact and slam the ball. Instead, there were 3-4 times where he went up relatively soft and either got hacked or got his dunk blocked, both of which could’ve been and1’s if he had gone up stronger.

    2.) Pau played 43 minutes; DJ played 4. I know Pau had a pretty decent game, but DJ should’ve had more minutes than that, if only to take some of the strain off Pau.

    3.) On that note, I loved the crunch-time lineup of Derek, Sasha, Kobe, Luke, and Pau. We were really able to keep their three point shooter in check while still having Pau cover either Scola or Yao very effectively. Pau’s 1-1 defense also deserves some merit, considering he had some big defensive stops at the end of the game.

    4.) Overall, I liked the team defense. The key to beating the Rockets was preventing Yao from making plays, which we did fairly effectively. Yes, he had an excellent shooting game, but we prevented him from getting the other Rockets into the offense with open threes or layups. Very impressive effort.

    5.) I’d like to concur with everyone else that the announcers for the Rockets were very very good. Clyde Drexler isn’t the savviest color commentator, but he’s knowledgeable about the game and the opposing teams players (as opposed to Mike Rice, who probably doesn’t even know any of the opposing players beyond names on a stat sheet), and both announcers were very impartial. After having to sit through the Portland announcers, which was akin to being forced to sit in a public lavatory in southern China, the Rockets announcers were a breath of fresh air.

  147. 147

    Also, playing Kobe so tightly encourages him to drive, which is exactly the opposite of what you want him to do.

  148. wait so what radio station are the lakers on now that klac is gone? someone provide a link?

  149. We have a game against SA tomorrow night. I suspect Phil will need Mbenga in that game more than he needed him tonight. Mbenga’s defensive antics probably would have resulted in fouls against Yao – that is something Phil couldn’t abide by. Tomorrow night he should be more effective against other than Tim Duncan.

  150. 152. Samy, they are still on 570 AM, whatever it is calling itself with all the Fox stuff. Next season they move to ESPN 710.

  151. I love to see a win (especially lately), and I love to see Kobe be Kobe and galvanize a struggling team, but eventually we need to rediscover that team oriented approach that carried us over Boston and Cleveland (and throughout that road trip). Back then we were pounding the ball inside, reversing the ball weak side, and generally working the triangle to perfection.

    But Kobe. Wow. Who challenges Artest in a manly pissing contest and lives to tell the tale?

  152. 155 – I missed the game, what happened? Are you just referring to the bball faceoff, or did Kobe and Artest actually have a confrontation or something?

    I would pay to see Kobe and Artest barking in each other’s faces. Mamba > pit bull

  153. 156

    Artest and Kobe were battling for position just inside the arc and squared off. Both players got Ts, Kobe got mad, and the Rockets got burned.

  154. wow powell plays very well he knows his boundaries and doesn’t try to do more then hes capable of like so many other players out there.

    maybe powell could start and odom could come off the bench because our bench is still struggling. that would create some balance. powell also seems to play better with the starters.

    and luke / ariza starting it really is a wash dont mind either of them coming off the bench.

    powell is a keeper i hope we bring him back next year, i believe his contract is done after this year?

  155. How does the comment “Testy fun.” get deleted?

  156. The Kobe button SO got pressed. Silly RonRon… nice defensive intensity down the stretch by everyone, too. Now on to bigger fish down in the Alamo…

  157. @penston…it might sound like ur referring to man-region related vocab

  158. #156,
    From what I saw, Kobe won the trash talking too… he has a way of smiling, a bit crooked, that flat out says, louder than words, that the person he smiles at is nothing but a worthless punk of the worth kind. A good insulting smile is a deadly weapon in trash talking.

  159. Since his first game, Marbury is 3-21 from the field. That’s not good.

  160. 163

    I like how this “low-risk, high-reward” move is working out for Boston so far… :)

  161. anyone make out what artest and kobe were saying to eachother? …i wanna know, im sure its hilarious

  162. 163. It’s great for the Lakers =)

  163. What do you guys think are the chances of the Blazers falling to the 8th spot? I know the Lakers can beat them, but I’m a little worried about our bench when and if that time comes. If they don’t bring their game and let themselves get intimidated it could be a huge upset. The blazers have been waiting to get back into the playoffs and get revenge for a long long time. They’ll be extra motivated.

  164. What a game:

    1) I will remember Kobe’s 4th quarter for a long time. He has had some really amazing road performances this season (SA, Utah), but tonight stuck out. The ability to rise to the moment, entertain and execute at the highest level is unmatched by any athelete in the world (save maybe El Tigre). I really liked seeing him and Pau go to the high-screen and roll, it freed him up so much better than when he tries to go one-on-one. We should be running this exclusivley in fourth-quarter half-court sets when we don’t get early offense.

    2) The team was just as key as Kobe was. Josh Powell was a viable scoring option all night, you could see his confidence really rise in the 3rd quarter. He may allow Phil to start him until Drew comes back, allowing LO to help stablize the bench. Luke Walton was great in the fourth, Ariza was good in the first and third, Sasha brought some D. I’d like Jordan and Fish to give us more, but neither hurt us.

    3) Phil pulled all the strings, he never gets enough credit. Ariza for Walton, Sasha in the 4th, Luke at Power Forward, Kobe-Pau high screen and roll, really put the Lakers in a position to win.

    2-1 road trip would be great!

  165. About artest: “It wasn’t much of a battle,” Bryant said. “I kicked his (butt) tonight. We’ve had some battles in the past and he’s gotten the best of me a few times. Tonight, I got the best of him.”

    Kobe always leaves this stuff on the court. I really wonder what Ron ron said to get under Kobe’s skin to that level.

    Kurt- I agree with you about Artest being the Rockets’ worst enemy at times, but he is a quinessential moneyball player. It’s all about value per dollar spent. In which case, Artest is one of the cheapest superstars in the league. So it makes sense to me that they’d get him.

  166. Enjoy these announcers… For tomorrow you will sing a different tune. Sean Elliot will drive you crazy. Hello mute button.

  167. By halftime, I was wondering: whatever happened to the once-vaunted Lakers offense we’d all grown to love this season? But after six straight quarters of doing next to nothing whenever they had the basketball (I’m including the entirety of the Portland game) our guys really and truly got it together.

    That 4th quarter was pure Kobe bliss!

    Tonight was also a clinic on how to run the double at Yao exactly as the ball is arriving to him; the Lakers did a beautiful job of it most of the night, and that more than anything is what I think sparked our comeback in the second half.

  168. Joel, Mimsy, thanks for the insight.

    Here’s Kobe and Artest chatting for quite a while, although probably a bit friendlier than tonight:

    Type in youtube dot com, then /watch?v=s24kx5ynRVQ

    It worries me more than the Portland loss that at this time of year we’re still tinkering with the lineup. Obviously something’s needed to inject some life into the bench, but it’s still worrisome. Not the sign of a team ready to hit its stride. Let’s home I am horribly, totally wrong, and we’re about to rock the playoffs like it’s 2001.

  169. Towards the end I think Ronoid was saying “I love you” while pointing at Kobe. If we can’t get the actual transcript, a nomuskles version would be equally entertaining.

  170. the other Stephen March 11, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    what can i say? stephen knows his ish.

  171. 171

    Tomorrow’s game is on TNT, so no Elliot (thank God).

  172. Someone wise once said of Artest, “When he plays as part of a team he’s superb, when he plays to prove he’s one of the League’s superstars he’s very bad.”

  173. Snoopy2006,
    I know you are concerned about the rotations, but I think Lamar is the main issue. With him starting we don’t know whether we need more scoring or more defensively staying with their man. With Lamar on the bench mob his production definitely goes down, but he becomes a more central passer. For those reasons I hope Phil tries out this starting Powell for a few games. I think he could be more consistent and that is what the starting unit needs.

  174. PeanutButterSpread March 12, 2009 at 12:50 am

    Fantastic win by the Lakers.

    Kobe is freakin amazing. MVP indeed.

    Josh and Trevor in the starting lineup was interesting. Josh stepped up big time. LO, take note!

    Hope the entire team brings it to the Spurs. Defense has to be on the dot and they’ve got to treat the game as if it were the playoffs, because you can bet the Spurs (plus their fans) will be rearing for a win.

    Now that this win has purged Monday’s loss, isn’t it ironic how the Blazer players think the Lakers are bullies?

    I mean, the Lakers have been ragged on by the media as “soft,” yet somehow the Blazers think the Lakers are bullies? I get that in Portland, things have been chippy, but really?

  175. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Absolutely loved the end of game pick and rolls with Kobe and Pau. So much more effective than Kobe iso plays while everyone stands around. I wonder if they ran it every time because of Artest’s and Battier’s defensive reputations. Well, if it worked against Ron Ron and Shane, it should work even better against the rest of the league. Let’s do that more often.

  176. This was our scheduled Kobe outburst. Now tomorrow, I’m hoping that the team stays awake so we don’t have to rely on Kobe yet again.

  177. Recent Bynum interview, although not that informative:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQCUf_Tznk8

  178. The Rockets problem is that their strength is also their weakness when it matters.

    Their role players do a great job in making that team what they are. They play hard, hustle, but also want to take the big shots. from Brooks to Wafer, they all feel they can be the guy to make the big shot. Overall, that’s a good thing, except for the Rockets, it hurts them, because Yao is involved enough in the 4th quarter and Ron Artest tries to be that guy. Then you have Ron Ron and the role players all trying to be the hero. If this team is going to take the next step, they HAVE to learn to win through Yao, because it’s the ONLY way they will win in the clutch consistently. When Yao is on, there is not a player in the NBA who can disrupt his turn around jumper from the right baseline. Granted, some of this is Yao’s fault. He let’s himself get stripped or the ball stolen blindside, but he needs to demand the ball and be the man. This team needs an hierarchy, because they will not win in the playoffs when the role players are trying to the big shot guy.

    It’s Yao’s team (that may be the problem in itself), but it doesn’t feel like it. I like the odds on Ron Ron, Aaron Brooks, Von Wafer, or Carl Landry deciding games.

  179. Also,

    Kobe read that Michael Lewis article. He definitely read it. Battier was barely in the game. Kobe was roasting him. Plus, his status as an offensive non factor let Kobe roam on defense. Score a point for Kobe. Take that Morey.

    I prefer Ron on Kobe over Battier, though. Kobe owns him, and it gets in Ron’s head, and he tries to match and fails.

  180. I was at the game and the moment Ron got in kobes face i knew it was over. Funny thing is Kobe wouldnt even let Ron touch him, he would slap his hand everytime he dared.

    Now tell me why i was expecting Tacos, i was even excited about it then i remembered i was in Houston….

  181. I’ve gotten pretty good at lip-reading from watching so many NBA games. Also basketball players like to say everything twice to make sure they’re heard (makes sense if you think about it). In the last minute when Kobe was at the stripe…

    Artest: “I love you though, I love you though.”
    Kobe: “Then keep it real. Keep it real.”
    Artest: “I ain’t f*cking with you, I ain’t f*cking with you.”

    Damn straight you ain’t, RonRon. Great game.

  182. Don’t forget it was “Keep it real” with the deadly insulting smile. ;)

    I am also very much looking forward to playing against San Antonio now. I’m hoping that Mbenga and Powell get a chance to play at least a few minutes while Duncan is on the floor. I want to see how they do against someone like him.

  183. Have you guys noticed that Kobe’s dribbling is way worse than where it was earlier. He turns it up alot more when he drives to the basket nowadays.

    Initially, I used to think that this was an effect of his aging and a loss of explosiveness. But, now I am more inclined to think that the injuries on his right hand are affecting the dribble with his right. He tries to go a lot more with his left nowadays.

    What do you guys think? Is it possible that his injuries are affecting his play? I know that someone presented some stats earlier which showed that his shooting has not deteriorated much.

  184. After making the drive over from San Antonio, I have to admit it was worth the 3 hour drive through less than stellar weather (low 40s and rain). Having lived in both the H-town and SA, I have to admit that I don’t mind the Rockets fans as much as the silverspurs. As soon as Ron and Kobe got tangled, an otherwise solid game became a great regular season example of why you don’t tease the bulldog. Kobe was unleashed and the rest of the team stepped up, too. I’ll be at tonight’s game, too, but it will take another strong team performance and the second half D of last night to make this one interesting. Funny how both of our games in SA are on the second night of a back to back with the Spurs rested. 2-1 on this trip would be fantastic!!

  185. #183 – I agree completely. You know that Kobe read that article (after someone like Phil helpfully pointed it out to him, naturally), and I could just imagine Kobe talking trash to that article in his head after each made jumper. He was scary efficient last night, aside from that stretch in the 2nd quarter when no one could do anything.

    And what was RonRon thinking? Most NBA players – heck, most athletes in general – play much worse than they’re mad, but doesn’t everyone know by now that Kobe, like MJ before him, is the exception to that rule? The *last* thing you want to do against Kobe is to get up in his face and start talking trash or try to get physical with him. Especially when we all knew that Kobe already had an axe to grind after the Moneyball article. Battier’s typical approach is much smarter – play smart positional defense, do the little annoying things without bodying up too much, and above all, be completely deferential.

  186. Anonymus #186 was me. Sorry about that.

  187. So, Kobe Bryant faces the Houston Rockets for the first time since an article comes out in The New York Times detailing how knowledgeable the Rockets are at making him take inefficient shots. So, how did he do? TrueHoop reader Walter e-mails: “Last night Kobe was a very efficient 14-23 (61%) from the field including 2-3 from beyond the arc. It is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was being guarded by two the best perimeter defenders in the league in Shane Battier and Ron Artest. It is almost mind blowing when you find out that he scored 37 points with 61% shooting while only taking TWO shots inside of 12 feet!!”

  188. As for the game in general, obviously that’s a nice win for the guys. To come storming back after two straight road losses and stinking up the court in the 2nd quarter shows a lot.

    In thinking about the game over night, I realized that I really liked how the Lakers played Yao. They really played an uptempo game in the 1st half (especially the 1st quarter) which forced Yao to expend a lot of energy trying to keep up with Pau (we need a new nickname that really encapsulizes Pau’s running of the court in that graceful yet goofy style. What do you guys think of the Giraffe? ;) ), and we all know that Yao has stamina issues. And after a half or so of running him pretty hard, the Lakers switched up the way they played him. In the 1st half they guarded him pretty softly – almost no double teams that I remember, and they (intentionally or no) didn’t really fight him on where he wanted to receive the ball. But in the 2nd half, after they had forced him to expend a lot of extra energy on defense while making things relatively easy for him on offense, they began making him fight to get the ball, with Pau overplaying the spots where Yao preferred to get the ball, and then aggressively doubling Yao once he finally got the ball. And because he was visibly tired and hadn’t had to work very hard to get the ball in good spots the rest of the game, they were able to take Yao comepletely out of the game.

    Consequently, whereas Yao killed us in the first half, shooting 6-7 en route to 12 points, he went 1-3 over the entirety of the 2nd half and scored only 4 points. He went from being the key cog in their offense to a complete non-entity, and also really disrupted the Houston flow in the 2nd half, when they tried to so hard to get Yao the ball and only had turnover after turnover to show for it.

  189. So Portland lost yesterday. That puts them with the Suns and the Nuggets as teams that have laid an egg after they get all geeked up to play us like its the championship. Nuggs went from damn near 2nd in the conference after beating us to damn near out of the playoffs. The Suns have also dipped. Portland better hope they don’t swoon like the others.

  190. One other thing, any person who has seen the Lakers without Kobe this season can tell you that this team doesn’t win 35 games without him. All this downplaying of his “valubleness” to the team is really ignoring the fact that he is at least equally valuable to the Lakers as CP3, LBJ and D Wade are to their clubs. I know the Chip is the only thing that matters, but the ways they try to change the rubric for MVP depending on what kind of year Kobe is having (goes to best player on best team logic doesn’t apply when its Kobe, goes to best player/most valuable also doesn’t apply when its Kobe) is so transparent it is insulting.

  191. Couple more random things that I may have missed a discussion on over the last few days (I had the flu and wasn’t up to really posting anything). If these have been hashed and rehashed, sorry:

    1) Ric Bucher said on Bill Simmons’ podcast (The BS Report) last week that Joe Smith almost went to the Lakers instead of the Cavs. Interesting, and a little surprising. Had anyone else even heard an inkling of that?

    2) According to Mark Cuban’s blog, YTD we have had to play 8 more back-to-backs than our opponents have (we have had 15 BTBs so far – not counting tonight’s game – and we have only played a team on the 2nd night of a back-to-back 7 times), most in the NBA. That’s a nice counterpoint to the conventional wisdom that our record is due to a soft early schedule.

    Besides our -8, Sacramento at -7 and Detroit at -6 are the two other teams that have been screwed almost as badly by the NBA schedule makers. On the other end of the spectrum, the Hornets are +8, the Clippers +7, the Jazz +6, and the Blazers +5. Proving, at least, that the Clippers are hapless no matter how much help they get.

  192. laker fans:

    kindly join me in enjoying this piece of ‘wisdom’ w/the benefit of last night’s win in your short term memory banks:

    “…The reason the Rockets insist that Battier guard Bryant is his gift for encouraging him into his zones of lowest efficiency. The effect of doing this is astonishing: Bryant doesn’t merely help his team less when Battier guards him than when someone else does. When Bryant is in the game and Battier is on him, the Lakers’ offense is worse than if the N.B.A.’s best player had taken the night off. “The Lakers’ offense should obviously be better with Kobe in,” Morey says. “But if Shane is on him, it isn’t.” A player whom Morey describes as “a marginal N.B.A. athlete” not only guards one of the greatest — and smartest — offensive threats ever to play the game. He renders him a detriment to his team.”

    my kind of detriment!!!!!

  193. PW @ #188.

    I do think Kobe’s finger injury(ies) affect his play sometimes. I believe he is compensating for it and his performance is all the more remarkable because of that.

    I am not sure it is going to be proven statistically, but I think that is part of the reason Kobe seems less inclined to drive. I think it affects his dribble and his shots around the rim.

    Love him or hate him, his will to compete is pretty amazing. I also love that he never brings it up, never makes an excuse.

  194. 194- Kwame, I just hope the Blazers don’t swoon themselves into the 8 seed! There’s no way the Lakers should feel threatened by them, but its kind of a Hawks-Celtics kind of vibe.

    If the Lakers win and PHX lose tonight, does that clinch a playoff berth?

  195. 99. I believe that a Lakers win or a Suns loss will clinch the Lakers a playoff berth as well as the Pacific division.

  196. J.D. – my thoughts exactly. The Blazers and the Jazz would be the two opponents I’d least like to see in the first round.

    Brian – I prefer “The Stork” myself…

  197. Re: Kobe’s hand – I definitely think it got hit in the first half. There was one play in particular where Kobe got a lot of contact (fighting for a loose ball under the basket, I think) and he came up grimacing. Not much was said, but the Lakers immediately took a time out, even though it hadn’t been that long since the last one.

    He seemed to have a little more difficulty controlling the ball after that, including a couple of potentially bad shots turning into (also bad) passes at the last moment.

  198. Well hell, we’re guaranteed a top 4 seed then, if not homecourt. We should just sit Pau, Kobe and Odom for the next 2 weeks if it happens.

  199. Spurs Preview Up

  200. Kurt, you fibber! I see no preview.

  201. I recind my previous comment and recognize Kurt as the truthteller he is.

  202. P.G.I.J.J.O.P , I think there is some kind of a refresh issue when new posts are put up. I will go back into FB&G (new browser instance) after I see someone’s comment that there is a new post up and it is not there, happens alot it seems right after it is posted. If I click on the name like ‘KURT’, who leaves the new post it seems to always take me into it.