Lakers/Rockets Game 1 Chat

Kurt —  May 4, 2009

NBA: NOV 09 Rockets at Lakers
Time to stop talking and start playing.

But, if you can’t get enough talking, I have a few thoughts up over at Dime Magazine (as do the guys from Dream Shake) about why the Lakers will win this series. Consider it the last two posts condensed down to 250 words.

Also, Bill Bridges asked and answered his own question in the comments about why Bynum is back in the starting lineup.

Why is Bynum going to start when the Gasol is so effective against Yao?

If you put yourself into Phil’s mind for a moment. You might think this: I know I can always go to Gasol/Odom at any time – especially crunch time. Gasol defends Yao as well as anyone (poking the incoming post pass is a favorite tactic). But Bynum might create problems for Yao that might make the games easier to win.

As effective as Pau is, he doesn’t get Yao into foul trouble. Bynum’s length, athleticism plus the fact that Yao is not a flopper creates the possibility of Yao working on defense and possibly getting in foul trouble. Unlike Collins and Okur, Yao is not a flopper (credit to him) and is unlikely to draw charges against Bynum.

A Rockets team with Yao in foul trouble is cooked. If Bynum is effective early and has the desired effect, great. If not, PJ knows what Gasol and Odom bring.

The game starts at 7:30 (or later) on TNT. I believe we get Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins. Whoever it is, they won’t screw up the call as bad as Tom Durkin did with the Kentucky Derby.


Kurt

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434 responses to Lakers/Rockets Game 1 Chat

  1. The series will be defined by how the Lakers respond on Wednesday.

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  2. Joe – It didn’t really add to anything. FB&G isn’t a private diary for everyone to voice their tears. Suggestions for improvement and adjustment are probably a better idea and less likely to get moderated.

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  3. Where to start?…

    For all the talk that Gasol is our biggest advantage we seemed to feel that he’s best served shooting mid-range jumpers rather than going into the post against Scola. Phil was dead on when he commented that “I don’t like the way we’re using Gasol”. I know he didn’t have his touch tonight and if he makes some of those FT line jumpers we have a different game, but when those shots weren’t falling we did not adjust. I mean, what’s the point of starting two seven footers if we don’t go into the post where we have a size advantage at PF? Both Bynum and Pau settled for jumper after jumper and while Andrew made some, Pau did not. Our entire plan must change if we are to win games and ultimately the series. Ultimately, some of those post Iso’s that Bynum got against Yao early in the game need to go to Pau on Scola. Simple and plain.

    As for Kobe, in P&R situations, I think he needs to come off the pick with more conviction and look to attack the big man showing on defense. If he attacks that big, he’s bound to draw some touch fouls or collapse the defense to get shooters better looks. When you look at what he’s doing, he’s using the screen to gain two inches of separation and get Battier/Artest on his hip. That’s a decent technique against most defenders, but these guys contest and don’t foul and it’s bothering his shot. I feel Kobe let the Rockets off the hook by playing the P&R this way – it allowed Yao to stay in the paint without fouling and it allowed the wing defenders to collapse the paint and still recover because Kobe was playing in second gear coming off those picks. Plus, this technique made it so he didn’t draw fouls, ultimately ruining any chance he had at efficient offense. If he’s making those jumpers it can be demoralizing to the opposition, when he’s not making those shots it’s just plain bad times.

    As for our defense, it was fine, but we really struggled with Brooks (hat tip to Reed) and with Artest (hat tip to me). Brooks killed us with his speed, but I’m amazed that we played him as tight as we did considering he wasn’t that effective with his jumper (I know he’s a much better shooter than Rondo, but we still need to play off him and make him make jumpers). He was blowing by Fisher with ease and getting to the rim and finishing in front of slow rotating bigs. As for Artest, this was the type of game I feared from him. He played under control (for the most part), made his jumpers, and bulled his way to the basket – drawing fouls in the process. And while I agree with Kurt that it’s doubtful Ron plays this well over the entire series, this is what he’s capable of and we have to stick to a plan when defending him. He goes left to shoot his jumper and drives right to finish in the lane – we have to play him to do those things and respect his offensive arsenal. I thought Trevor did a decent job on him, but we still let him get to his spots to get the shots he wanted and, ultimately, he found his rhythm.

    Overall, it’s obvious we played poorly but we did do some things right. We controlled our defensive glass and we forced 11 steals. We did a decent job of marking their spot up shooters – forcing them into 5-18 from three point territory. But all of those positive were mitigated by our inability to take advantage of the matchups that do play in our favor. Oh, and one last thing – I was pretty disappointed with LO tonight (and being one of his bigger advocates, that’s saying something, I think). He was awful at the FT line and didn’t have any rhythm on his jumper (suprise, suprise to few, but he was making that shot against the Jazz). He was scrappy on the offensive glass with four on that end, but when he only gets 5(!) total (so only one defensive rebound!! in 32 minutes!!!), he’s not working hard enough. Plus, if he’s not rebounding on our defensive glass, he can’t push the pace or start the break from the glass which is a major advantage he can give us. So, I was upset with my guy. I hope he’ll do better in upcoming games, but Adelman was extremely smart in putting Ron on him and, as we saw when Boston put Posey on LO, Lamar struggles when SF’s who can stay with him on the perimeter and body him when he cuts guard him. He needs to go to the post more in those instances, but we’ll see if he adjusts his game.

    Man….I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. Who needs a DVR when I’m going to be replaying this game in my head ’til 3 in the morning. Damn, Damn, Damn.

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  4. lakers gotta come out and play with some serious passion…it can be done but i havent seen them do that in a while

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  5. I don’t expect the Lakers to play this poorly again. I think they were rusty, simply put — too long a layoff, Kobe not at 100%, Pau having his 1-out-of-50 inefficient games, Bynum hesitant and dispassionate (even though he looked okay on offense). These things all converged to get us in a hole we couldn’t crawl out of, we never got in any sort of sustainable rhythm (save for the late 3rd early 4th run), and honestly we should have been crushed the way we played. Somehow, we weren’t.

    I hope the guys take that to heart, though again I don’t think this is a “wake up call” kind of game. I mean, any home loss, especially to start a series as a heavy favorite, is a wake up call — but these guys know they played a fluky horrible game, that nothing was really working and that in all likelihood that won’t happen again. 2-17 from behind the arc? Not happening again.

    All that said, knowing they can’t play that poorly again — I hope that doesn’t make them complacent.

    Oh and I second the comment that, and it’s hard to say this, Farmar get some more burn. Brooks killed us.

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  6. to post #394 that’s because the true fans are generally the ones who can’t afford tickets to the games.

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  7. Great game plan by Houston. Anyone else notice that Brooks abused us like Nash did several years ago? Don’t think PJ saw that one coming.

    It doesn’t help that Kobe tries to win these games by himself. He’s 32 now, he should know that the Lakers play better when he doesn’t force the shot.

    PJ needs to write a word in bold in the locker room S-O-F-T. Pau and Bynum were not taking the ball to the rim on a consistent basis. They constantly settled for jump shots. The Lakers need to find some nastiness in Game 2.

    There also needs to be some stronger cuts to the basket. Possibly set up a screen and run the triangle.

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  8. @394:

    That’s because Kurt moderates the comment section.

    As far as the whole referee thing goes – I think when a game is really being called one-sided, it’s readily obvious (like Game 2 of the Lakers-Celtics series last year). Most of the time, I think it balances out. This game did not stick out to me in that regard.

    Lakers lost. Too flat. Seems like they shot worse than 44%, but only because 44% for them is like 39% for anyone else. They’ll play better, and this may just be a wake-up call, the wake-up call they needed, because they still haven’t played a really good game yet this postseason.

    Lakers in 5. Watch.

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  9. frustration is the word of the evening. rockets played great. that defense was stifling. the lakers were really taken out of their game. lakers played okay defense but had no answer for yao. hopefully the lakers can wear him down over the course of the series.

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  10. @81witness: i think we’re pretty much on the same page except the softness of gasol and bynum. both of them challenged yao where they could. gasol played terrific one on one defense to deny yao position and post entry passes. bynum had some luck using his midrange jumper and post up moves on yao. but i mean, a 7’6″ guy with tree trunk legs isn’t exactly going anywhere. you can’t move him out of the way to get where you want to go. you have to use his strengths (size) against him. force him to keep moving and to extend his defense away from the bucket.

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  11. Kobe is 30 not 32

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  12. Peanut Butter Spread May 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    ZOMG! Season’s over!!! The sky is falling!! LAKERS SUCK!!!

    I’d be feeling that but for some reason, I’m not too worried about this loss. Sucks, but hopefully the Lakers will bounce back.

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  13. #385,
    While I will certainly agrre on bad/inconsistant refs being a problem,for the first 46 minutes the FT was @16-12. Considering the Rockets were the aggressive team and the aggressive team usually gets the calls,that’s not much of an edge.

    Lets be honest,superstars are called differently. They get all kinds of calls on offense,are allowed to travel on their pet move,rarely get called for offensive fouls,etc. To balance that-and to keep them from completely dominating every game-the refs allow their defenders to be far more physical than they allow against other players.

    One thing Laker fans should be aware of. Over the past 4-5 yrs the Rockets have had a running battle w/the League office on how Yao can play defense.
    The League has stated that if a player makes contact w/a defender who jumps straight up and keeps his arms vertical there is NO FOUL on the defender. Strictly speaking,it’s a charge,but that’s never called,in practice it’s a no-call. The refs finally started calling it this yr the way the League said it should be called. If the defender slides,throws out a hip or lowers his arms,it’s a defensive foul.
    If a Laker drives into Yao who is jumping straight up and keeps his arms high,it’s not a foul. If a Rocket drives into Bynum who swings his arm trying to block a shot,it’s a foul. Whatever we may think of the reasoning,that’s the guidelines from the League that it want’s it’s refs to follow.

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  14. Peanut Butter Spread , you forgot Gone Fishing…’

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  15. One problem w/the Gasol/Odom pairing is they are players who get rebounds more by being athletic and using their height. Rocket bigs are not particularly high-leapers,they rebound by establishing position and out-muscling their opponents.
    Yao,Scola,Landry and Hayes seem to be able to body Gasol/Odom out of rebounding position.Bynum looks able to hold his ground and that’s why he’s so valuable to the Lakers. I expect Ariza to start crashing the boards again.

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  16. I thought the Lakers did a pretty good job closing out on shooters. Obviously Brooks’ penetration was big. Kobe being sick could well have contributed to his weak cuts off the P&R. I did see passion from the team and the biggest problem was the rusty shooting. Hit more of those shots and maybe Bynum and/or Gasol get better position to do something in the post, rather then shoot over Yao so much.

    GreatWall mentioned what it is that many of us are thinking, the Lakers are good enough that we can see that a few adjustments and, most of all, hitting the open jumpers, could well come into effect next game and carry the team to winning in 6. Still, Houston played great. Their defense made scoring difficult for long stretches. Brooks being able to do what he did is no anomaly. Artest looks like he has the right focus to keep this up for long stretches (in other words I wouldn’t count on him going into shootout with Kobe mode), and Yao is a baller showing real heart. They look like a really solid focused team with players who know their roles and that is always difficult to beat. The Lakers win 2 of the next 3 games and they’ll be fine.

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  17. I agree w/ darius: “…some of those post Iso’s that Bynum got against Yao early in the game need to go to Pau on Scola. Simple and plain.” Its imperative that the Lakers establish Pau at the start of the game. That’s a big mismatch right there; not Drew on Yao. Go to Pau more and let Drew roam in the paint or draw Yao out or set high picks for others. Lakers probably have the greatest 1-2 punch in KB & Pau (heck, I’d pick LO as the 3rd scoring option); we don’t need to force it into the young Drew.

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  18. #411, PBS,
    I’m on your side. It could be so much worse, but it isn’t. And that means we will recover, and we will return.

    😉

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  19. I think the Lakers will shake it off in the next game, and we’re more than capable of winning in Houston. I was concerned this series might go seven, and I saw nothing tonight to change that point of view.

    I’m a big fan of LO, but he was not very good off of the bench tonight.

    Gasol was not hitting at a good percentage, some of that was us not getting the ball to him in the low post when he was being guarded by shorter bigs and some of that was him being a tad sluggish (how many times did the “slower” Yao go around Gasol rather than vice-versa? I counted at least 3).

    Bynum was decent offensively in that he was hitting jumpers, but in the second quarter when he had smaller bigs on him he wasn’t able to push them off of the block. This concerns me greatly.

    Kobe was obviously not 100% tonight and it affected his approach to the game. Like Darius pointed out, he wasn’t using the P&R to get in to the paint, but to get jump-shots. We need him to drive into the paint, and then – of course – it would be nice to see someone hit an open jumper.

    Defensively I was very happy with the vast majority of what we did that did not involve guarding Brooks. In the Finals last season it took us too long to make the Rondo adjustment, and I am supremely disappointed that we threw away a full game (at a minimum since we haven’t seen a change yet) to make the same adjustment on Brooks. We don’t have a 1 that can stay in front of him, we need to play off of him and force him to shoot jumpers.

    All in all we got sub-par games from everyone on the floor and we lost – just like we should when we come out lethargically and just not there mentally.

    My guess is that the Lakers take the next two before finishing the series in seven.

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  20. 416 – Correct me if I’m wrong, but Brooks is a much, much better jumpshooter than Rondo. Helping way off Brooks won’t help anything. We do need to limit his penetration, but we can’t utilize the free-safety defense we use on Rondo.

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  21. Lakers just have to come out and take control of the next game. They played too much catch-up all night. And everytime we caught up, Rockets went on a big run. Lakers need more ball movement on offense and have to hit there open shots, especially the 3 ball. On defense, Yao was contained I thought, but Brooks killed us. He needs to be more contained next game.

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  22. #394,
    Every team probably has the same percentage of fans that are trolls, it’s just that there are sooo many Laker fans, you have a far larger number of people spouting stuff like “KOBE COULD WIN 1v5” or “Why is the other team even showin up to take on the Lake Show!!one!” than anyone else. Fortunately most of those folks relegate themselves to the espn.com comment sections and you can still find awesome blogs like this one with rational fans sharing normal and insightful opinions.

    With respect to this series, as a Nuggets fan I would much rather go up against the Rockets in the Conference Finals, but a Lakers-Nuggets matchup would be fantastic to watch (plus it would be nice to have a chance at revenge for the ass-whipping you folks gave us last year).

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  23. 422
    “as a Nuggets fan I would much rather go up against the Rockets in the Conference Finals” – obviously ‘coz Houston’s a lighter challenge than LA for Denver. LA-DEN matchup for the Conference finals would indeed be exciting!

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  24. Man, I stayed up until 1:30 am EST to watch the game and I am very dissapointed in what I saw.

    The whole team looked out of synch. Alsmost like they all suddenly caught Kobe’s cold. In particular, our passing game was horrible. Too many passes were off their mark or guys were driving into a sea of Houston rockets only to try and make a pass to the outside that either missed its mark or went out of bounds.

    As far as our team, Fish just can’t seem to snap his dwindilling shooting streak. He makes two in a row, but misses three in a row. His passes were way off and at he seemed to develop a new bad habit of driving into the basket even though there were 4 rockets posted in the paint. Not sure what is going on there, but I think a little more ShamWOW and less Fish may do this team better.

    Kobe was sick, so his game was off. Pau was effectively guarded all night – but a smart player like him should be able to improve for the next game. Lamar was fantastic most of the game. Ariza had his moments too. Andrew was better offensively, but a non-factor defensively (the same pattern we saw with him at the start of the season).

    Bottom line: We played desperation ball and it cost it the game.

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  25. I was impressed with Houston’s poise. To be honest, I was sure they were going to tighten up and give the lead away with sloppy play and missed shots. But they never seemed to feel pressure, and they certainly hit the shots they needed to hit. Kudos to them.

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  26. I said it before the series started and I will say it again – Rockets in 6. The Rockets front line is too much for the Lakers to handle – sure Scola, Landy and Chuck Hayes aren’t the tallest guys in the world, but they have girth and heart which makes them too much to handle. As long as the Rockets can ensure that it’s Ariza who keeps hoisting the 3 pointers, we’ll be golden.

    Rockets in 6 baby!

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  27. I really dislike buzzwords like “tough” and “heart” and “soft” and even “clutch.” They don’t tell you anything. They are so general and vague and mean too many different things to too many people. I think there are better terms and better ways to make an argument.

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  28. Looking on the bright side, I really liked the defense that Sasha played on Von Wafer. He really got under his skin, drew an offensive foul, and chased him from the court.

    Unfortunately, Adelman ended up benching Wafer in favor of the Brooks-Lowry backcourt which I thought turned the tide in their favor in the 4th quarter there. They were too quick for the bigger lineup we were playing and really beat us to a lot of loose balls.

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  29. People seem pretty focused on the offense, but I think the defense is more important. Talking on another blog to a guy like “RocketsRoll” I said I thought the problem for Houston would that they simply would not score enough to win four games. You give up 100 to the Rockets, you lose. Even going 2/18 on 3s, the Lakers scored 92, which can beat the Rockets. But if Artest and Brooks combine for 40, you’re done.

    One bad thing from the Lakers’ POV is that Houston did not shoot the lights out–47.9 from the field overall and 5/18 from the arc–and still hit 100. The game was won at the line as much as anywhere.

    So, I think Game 2 is more of a question of being aggressive and getting to the line more, and keeping Artest or Brooks around 10 points. The team can live with Yao going 28/10–he’s beast. But they cannot let the other guys score that much again.

    Also, I know crticizing Phil too much is considered bad form by some, but I think his preference for veterans is creating a problem. With Houston’s personnel, Bynum needs to be getting 25-30 minutes. He needs to stick with Bynum even when Bynum makes a mistake. I have developed great respect for Lamar Odom, but the guy is not a star.

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  30. A lot of people in the media, analysts and us fans haved pointed out many valid & at times frustrating points when referring to the Lakers play thus far in this postseason. But, in my personal opinion, I think one thing is clearly forgotten with this team and that’s the energy from player 1-12. The Lakers too often fall into lackadaisical efforts when playing teams below them and it showed late in the season and for the better part of the Utah series and Phil knows that, and the team turned it on when it needed (sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t). That’s why he’s called out his team for that killer instinct. Yes, last night was probably a glitch in the system as Phil pointed out that the team didn’t use Pau the way he’d like to have seen and the offense wasn’t flowing properly etc. etc. No excuses from the refs and missed calls & open looks.
    Last year, shortly after the Pau trade…you got the sense that the team had a purpose and it sparked getting the top seed in the West and it countered with Kobe getting that missing MVP award on his mantle and that ‘energy’ carried the team throughout the conference and up to the Finals.
    This year, that emotional journey is evidently missing and I think that’s what’s separating the Lakers from the Cavs today (look at how that Cavs team acts & comes together on & off the court as shown in the Coach Of The Year and MVP press conferences). As much as it sickens me to see this and as much as I want to see the Lakers prevail this year and spoil the whole LeBron James show and their achievements, the Lakers must rise up to the challenge and will themselves mentally and emotionally. Yes, they have the most talent at their disposal but their biggest competition is themselves. We need a Phil Jackson “Zenlike” behind closed doors pep rally to rally our troops. A few Kobe picking up the tab team dinners wouldn’t hurt either.

    Phil has seen enough and I’m certain you’ll see a stronger more focused team now that the snooze button has been turned off in our locker room.

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  31. The Lakers don’t seem to match up well in the post-season against tough teams that play good defense.

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  32. I think this is the best thing I’ve read on game one, not a shock it’s from Kevin of Clipperblog fame:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-40-15/Houston-Gets-Defensive.html

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  33. dave in hillsboro May 8, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I’m not one to comment a lot, but I’ve been reading this site for most of the second half of this season. I just want to say, I’m proud of Farmar tonight. I was losing faith in him, but he showed tonight that he is worth the money the Lakers pay him, if not more. That was a quality win, and I am proud of our guys. Pau, LO, Drew, ShanWOW, Trevor–everyone had a hand in this. Of course, there is nothing that can be said about Mr. Big Shot. That three to close out the third was insanity. Let’s get this done in five.

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