Lakers/Rockets Game 2 Chat

Kurt —  May 6, 2009

Kobe Relax
The T-shirt idea posted over at the LA Times Lakers Blog (and shown above) really sums up my thoughts. There are a lot of people saying the Lakers lost home-court advantage, but that’s not how I see it — of the six games left, they are split evenly. What having the HCA gives you is breathing room if you have a bad game. The Lakers had theirs, but this is far, far from over.

As for what the Lakers need to do, it is get back to their offense, which I think Houston assistant coach Elston Turner described very well in a TrueHoop story (from Kevin) that I thought was the best on the first game:

“Spontaneous creativity — that’s what makes them so tough,” Turner said of the Lakers, as he marked up the board. “They’re so flexible offensively. That kind of flexibility is unique, and you need defensive flexibility to stay with them.”

One of the most insightful commenters here had a great rundown of things that need to change after game one, and so I’m just going to let him have the floor:

First of all a strategy that depends on Yao wearing down is not going to work. I don’t know what kind of ginseng he’s been taking but the Yao of yesterday does not drain that 20 footer at the end of the game and 40 minutes of court time.

Some of the Lakers problems were temporary. Lack of shooting touch, slow on rotations, etc… these will naturally be improved. But some problems are structural. These problems need a change in strategy.

1. Aaron Brooks. The problem he posed was different to the problems D-Will and even to some extent, Chris Paul poses. He broke Fisher down without needing a screenroll. The Lakers have gotten better at defending the screenroll with Pau or Lamar showing hard and recovering to his man. But Brooks just blew by Fisher, never giving the help defense the chance to affect him. Brooks is similar to Parker, a shoot-first point guard who can get into the lane and finish. The Lakers should consider putting Ariza on Brooks who can leave space to prevent penetration and still bother his shot. This would leave Kobe on Artest (Ariza did not slow Artest at all) and create a matchup problem with Fish on Battier but I’d rather have Battier taking up Yao’s low post possessions instead of taking the corner 3. I’m not convinced that Farmar can stay in front of Brooks as he’s not demonstrated this ability against any other point guard in the league whereas Fish is strong enough to hold his position against Battier.

2. On offense the Lakers simply have to do better executing 2 simple plays. High screenroll with Kobe and Pau and mid-post with Kobe. The Rockets are doing a good job defending the screenroll by having Battier cheat off Kobe toward the right side of the court. Ideally Kobe would have the ball on the strongside (left side of the court) and Pau would flash up to screen his man, resulting in either in a Kobe dribble drive down the right side of the court (the new strong side) or being double -teamed which can create the highly effective hockey pass to Odom on the high post and Pau diving to the hole. But the Rockets anticipate this screenroll and when Pau flashes up to set the pick, Battier is in front of Kobe and already shading to the weakside. Thus when Pau sets the screen, the pick is a backside pick and the only avenue left for Kobe is to double back toward the strongside (left side) where the defenders funnel him toward the baseline. This defense is exactly out of the Michael Lewis article. To combat Battier’s stance, the Lakers have to change the initiator of the triangle sequence. You know the sequence that Fisher runs where he dumps the ball off to the high post, cuts down and then doubles back to receive the hand-off (yes picture it, Fisher usually takes a 20 foot jump shot off of this sequence). Instead of Fish, this has to be Kobe. If Kobe initiates this sequence on the left side of the floor, he can receive the hand-off from Pau who also picks off a trailing Battier. The screenroll now is dangerous, with either Kobe one-on-one with a showing Yao or being doubled by a trailing Battier. The Rockets now are rotating furiously to cope and shooters are open everywhere on the floor. I’m disappointed that the coaches do not have a solution for this defense because this is what the Rockets have run each and every game since last year.
Also, Kobe must simply work harder to establish the mid-post position on the right side of the court. You know the plethora of moves he has from this position. We saw this once last night with Kobe getting a good shot in the lane.

On a macro note, some times it is not your night. The 50/50 plays went the Rocket’s way. Someone posted about the team rebounds being an indicator. There were many sequences where the Rockets made shots with the clock winding down. And still the Lakers had chances. I expect the Lakers to win the next game as Kobe should come out very aggressive continue his forays into the lane that he started late in the 4th quarter. But the win would be easier if Phil addresses the structural problems and not just count on more effort. I don’t know whether Phil’s adjustments will have any similarity to the ones being suggested by FBG readers but it will be interesting to see what they are going to be.

Nomuskles suggested in the comments the Lakers may need to give Brooks the Steve Nash treatment — don’t let him facilitate, make him score. He will, but it’s less dangerous. Maybe that’s an option.

But what I really want to see tonight is some made shots.

Kurt

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657 responses to Lakers/Rockets Game 2 Chat

  1. Fish looking sooo fresh

  2. Raja’s just a punk though. Ron’s a little crazy, but he’s true to the game.

  3. Ron will cool down tomorrow.

  4. Wow I do enjoy the Dream Shake quite a bit, but let’s just say they’re not on board with Matt Moore’s petition for sanity (look at their latest post).

    Now this feels like a series. I actually like the Rockets quite a bit, and now that Artest has gotten a bit more Artesty, I’m finding it a bit easier to muster up some serious dislike for the Rockets. And Von Wafer is just annoying. Can anyone imagine him and Vujacic in the backcourt? The other team’s heads might explode.

  5. Don’t let it get lost among the talk of big hits, elbows, and suspensions that Kobe THREW THE BALL OFF THE BACKBOARD TO HIMSELF for an and1 layup during a PLAYOFF GAME.

  6. Bruinsfan – Kobe Bryant studies Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee’s martial art. He uses it to make him a better offensive player. I think youtube has an interview of Kobe talking about studying the art.

  7. Just remembered he did that in the Utah series last year too. That dude is ridiculous.

  8. I am sorry, but Ron Artest is full of crap. Now he’s trying to act like all his actions were justified while at the same time telling us in the post-game interview how he has witnessed someone dying on the basketball court while growing up. No one gives a crap–be professional. And don’t pretend like you don’t love fighting. That’s just your nature. Let’s not forget the Detroit incident now. And so what that you got elbowed? It’s freakin playoff basketball, of course there’s going to be contact, especially under the basket. But you don’t just run into another player’s face like that. He could have easily lost it in the heat of the action and thrown a punch too. If anything, Stu Jackson needs to consider Ron Artest as one of the people that should be suspended for the next game.

  9. ron artest’s interviews remind me of muhammad ali’s interviews from his hey dey for some reason. kind of a raspy voice with lots of bravado and a meandering style of storytelling.

    fisher’s suit was very very sharp. i want me one of those.

    what artest says is right. the refs don’t enforce the normal rules of acceptable contact during the playoffs and this leads to more physical play. we have seen many times this season and last that physical play, even dirty play doesn’t punish the physical team. they go on to win championships and advance in the playoffs. how many times have you heard the phrase, the refs reward the more aggressive team. that’s a nice way of saying, teams that foul a lot or are physical can get away with a lot. it’s a real winning strategy.

    I’m a big wussy, so I think his point is right. teams should win if they are skilled and good, not if they can knock people on their asses. that’s my stance.

    However, until then, it’s good to see Fisher send a real message that Scola better keep his mouth shut and his hands to himself. it’s stupid that the lakers have to be the bully but the league and the refs reward such play with wins and championships.

  10. First, I’m okay with Fisher being ejected. That was a premeditated hit on Scola (who had it coming no matter what was said, but that’s another story). I would be interested to know what Scola said to LO that so incensed Walton and DFish.

    And I definitely agree that calling the game closer favors the Lakers. The Rockets, especially RonRon, Battier, and Hayes/Landry pretty much get away with whatever they want in terms of hacking/slashing. After the game got really chippy and the refs had to start calling everything, the Lakers got to the rim a lot easier.

    I’m a little worried that Fish may get suspended for a game. Like I said, that was a premeditated elbow. I’m also a little worried that Kobe could get one as well, but that one clearly wasn’t pre-meditated, and in slo-mo looked like it was a retaliation for RonRon pushing the back of his head down and then swinging his elbow up and over Kobe’s shoulder/neck.

    Fun game, though. If I were Houston I wouldn’t be all that upset about the loss. They played well and were able to weather Yao’s subpar game pretty well. RonRon was insane (in a good way) tonight before he went insane in a bad way. Hayes and Landry really gave them a boost in the 1st half. But the Lakers should feel good as well. They won fairly handily while still not shooting all that well (outside of Kobe and Pau of course), but they were held their own on the boards, took care of the ball, and did a much better job on D. They actually played RonRon really well, but he just hit some amazing shots.

  11. Does that count as Kobe getting 40 against Artest? Is Kobe as good as Brandon Roy now :)

  12. No, BRoy dropped 42.

    Ron’d.

  13. I’m wondering if Scola did or said something earlier in the game that pissed off some of our guys. LO got in his face, Walton got in his face, Sasha was mixed in there, then the uncharacteristic Dfish hit, which, by the way, was the play of the season – physically, he just isn’t the same guy anymore, but his hit fired up the team and the fanbase – just when all of us needed it.

    Some great minutes out of Farmar – he missed a couple of easy ones but I can see his confidence coming back.

    “He cant f***ing gaurd me”

  14. What a great game.

    - We pulled away to 10-15 pt lead twice, looked like we were going to blow it wide open, and both times they hit difficult shots without hesitation and came back. If we had done this in game one, it would’ve been a 25 pt blow out. Instead, we gave them confidence that they can not only play with us, but beat us. Nevertheless, I credit our guys tonight for coming out and playing with intensity and poise whenever the game got close.

    - Both Farmar and Bynum look like they’ve lost some lift. But Powell’s minutes should be going to Bynum to get him in rhythm. But he seemed to get the message tonight to not force up shots that lead to a stagnant offense.

    - Gasol played a fantastic game. He plays within the flow so much that it allows Kobe to get more touches and play to his strengths.

    - Fisher probably won us the game with his hard foul. The defense tightened up tremendously after that, we went on a run and closed it out. Walton was very smart sealing and helping out on Yao from the weak side. I really liked the Farmar-SB-Walton trio out there for us. It put SB in a position to attack, farmar in a position to shoot, and Walton to be the setup guy.

    - I expect Fish be suspended. There was more windup and follow through (coupled w/ Scola’s exaggeration) than D-Will’s hit on Bynum. Kobe shouldn’t be. His elbow was in the context of being physical and fighting position, different than Howard’s elbow which was not a basketball play. And of course Alston should be suspended for his Master of Disguise ‘respectful’ hand slaps.

    Overall, very happy with the effort tonight. We’ve figured some things out. Namely how to play like LA and not Portland. Fisher being out may do us just as much good as harm since he’s not been shooting the ball well, and as said, Farmar/SB is the antidote to their two pt guard lineup.

  15. Hated that foul by Fisher. Dirty and unnecessary. As far as I could tell, Scola had only been jawing and getting testy, not playing dirty, so it didn’t merit that response at all. I would’ve rather Fish got thrown out doing the same thing Artest did, by getting into Scola’s face. Now he will be and should be suspended. The Rockets will now be feeling they’re the aggrieved party. We don’t need to give the Rockets and their home crowd additional fuel for the fire.

    Anyway, I think we’re better than that.

    I’m happy to see the bench playing better on defense, even though we’re still struggling from the field. Odom is rebounding (more PT practice please!) Luke had a very nice game. Still concerned that we’re not consistently exploiting our supposed front court advantage. Still too much reliance on Kobe.

  16. Step up Farmar!

    I really miss someone like Rick Fox on the team. Fish had to be that guy tonight.

    I wonder what Von to make Adelman kick him out of the game…

  17. As a Rocket fan I will tell you that I think tonights game worked against the Lakers. The Fake Physicality (Yes, drob, I said it) will not work out in the long run. The Rockets were in this game with Yao not even participating. Artest will get Kobe back for the chop to the throat, and RA will make adjustments. I think that the lakers cheap play will awaken the Rockets and they will sweep the next two games. Before this game I thought that the Lakers would win the series, but I believe that they just played into the Rockets’ hands.

    Rockets in 7.

  18. Anyone who thinks this is fake physicality, and that this team is soft, has not watched it all year. That includes columnists at the LA Times.

  19. Kurt – I agree. I think the underlying reason for that overreaction is that people were shocked by the type of physicality and who committed it. I don’t think anyone, even Lakers fans, expected Fish to a lay a hit like that.

  20. Brave face, Great Wall, but really, wouldn’t you have rather been up two going home? And Rockets in seven with a sweep of the next two by Houston? You really think your side has a better chance to win games three AND four than to win a potential series-clinching game six? You must not be confident in the Rocket’s ability under pressure.

    Oh… And there’s no such thing as fake physicality. It’s all real, but the important question is, can you get away with it? Can you get away with the loose ball pushes, elbows, shoves and holds under the rim? Can you get away with leading every single dribble drive with your bent free arm? Can you get away with driving, dishing the ball, and then plowing over a planted Luke Walton in the second quarter for a no call? Up until the third quarter of this game, the answer was “Yes, you can.”

    If future games are called like the fourth quarter of this one, then the answer to all of those is, “No, you can’t.” I don’t believe that that would favor the less talented team.

  21. @ Great Wall
    Nobody has got a clue what ‘fake physicality’ means. It’s just a manufactured idea to satisfy your psychological need that the Rockets still have something on the us. We come out, play our game in transition, rhythm offense, force turnovers, the way we’ve been beating teams (including the Rockets) all season, and somehow this worked against us?
    Can you ‘sweep’ two games? Can you play your game, execute, beat a team handily and play into the opponents hands?

    Sorry Rockets fan, I believe that the Rockets have a lot to feel good about, but in no way shape or form did this game ‘play into their hands.’ I don’t think RA woke up today and said, I hope the Lakers will be physical, because it’s fake, and then we can be real physical later. Yao didn’t think, I hope they play aggressive and drive the ball into the paint and get fouls on me. I hope they front me and take away my angles to force Artest into contested 20 footers.

    This game showed that Yao can be effectively denied post entries, as he was all series against Portland. What other adjustments can you make if you couldn’t do that for a series? Artest is not Kobe and will not continue to hit ridiculous shots like he did tonight.

    Like what’s been said, refs reward aggressive play. We’ve shown that we are willing to do that. And the Rockets should be worried.

  22. “And I definitely agree that calling the game closer favors the Lakers. The Rockets, especially RonRon, Battier, and Hayes/Landry pretty much get away with whatever they want in terms of hacking/slashing. After the game got really chippy and the refs had to start calling everything, the Lakers got to the rim a lot easier.”

    I think that is exactly what Fish was trying to do, get the game called closer. His foul on Scola lead to Artest’s ejection because the refs weren’t about to allow anything resembling a fight break out, and the Lakers started getting the ticky-tack calls in their favor for a change at that point.

    I’m not sure how much of that hit was a message to Scola and how much of it was a “No, THIS is a foul” message to the referees.

    I think Fish will be suspended, but I don’t think he should be if the league has let Rondo play after two obvious suspendable offenses (admitting to hitting Miller in the mouth with no play on the ball, followed by throwing an elbow at Heinrich).

    I think Fish gets suspended and the Lakers lose the next game and then rally for game 4.

    I still have my concerns about the series. We needed Kobe’s 40 to win tonight. With Houston’s defense, we can’t rely on that to happen. I’d almost say DON’T get Yao in foul trouble because the small lineup for Houston is giving our defense fits.

    I think Walton made a huge impact tonight. Better passing and some pretty smart defense on his part. Our best unit against Houston may be (if Fish is suspended) Farmar, Kobe, Walton, Odom, and Gasol.

    I’m becoming concerned about whether Bynum’s issue in the playoffs his his knee or his mentality. Is his knee that bad or can he not handle playoff pressure? He altered a few shots tonight, and he pushed Yao out a few times, but he’s not active enough on the boards to really help us where we need him.

    The Lakers are still missing too many open shots, and until we start hitting open 3′s or even 2′s with any sort of regularity, we’re going to see Houston pack the lane with 4 players and dare Kobe to try and get inside. It’s hard to get a good entry pass to Gasol when the Rockets are essentially playing a zone with 4 guys lined up along the lane.

    Going to be interesting to see how the next game is officiated.

  23. Mason and Don W,

    The fact is that the Lakers are not near the physical team that the Rockets are.

    By fake physicality, I mean Both Kobe and LO trying to act tough and then backing away because they knew who was going to win if the sparring became any more than words, As for the Fisher call – I have always admired his toughness and think that he is by far the toughest player on your team.

    And yes, I do think that the rockets will win the next 2, lose the following two, and win game seven on your court, but you could be right; we may win game 6 or you could win one of the next two. My theory is not an exact science, only what I see based on my understanding of basketball

    You didn’t find some magical defense to contain Yao, he didn’t play at all because of foul troble. There really isn’t any reason to be defensive of another person’s comment unless you are a little insecure of the outcome of the series.

    Like i said, I thought until tonight that the Lakers would win, but my opinion changed. I will say it one more time…THE LAKERS PLAYED INTO THE ROCKETS HANDS TONIGHT. Compaq Center will be rocking!

    Healthy disagreement is ok.

  24. Great Wall, I thought it was the Toyota Center. Did they change the name of the arena recently?

    As per the toughness argument, I disagree with fake physicality being applied to Kobe and LO. The former needs no explanations and the latter, well, LO grew up with Ron Artest in the same area.

    As for Fisher, though, although some may glorify the foul and debated that it lit a fire in the team, I’m with the other stance that it was not a good move on Fisher’s behalf because now with the inevitable Game 3 suspension, the team has to rely on Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown to step into Fisher’s shoes to be that steady anchor and I don’t know if they are up to the task.

    I will healthily disagree with you that the Lakers played into the Rockets hands for now because we haven’t seen how Game 3 will unfold. But I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me in saying Game 3 is a critical game.

  25. David Stern must be very happy tonight.
    No fight occurred.
    No one got hurt.
    But every sport page and talk show will be talking NBA playoffs and Lakers-Houston game 2 and upcoming game 3 for the next 2 days.
    All other sports will be background noise.

  26. You defined fake physicality as “both Kobe and LO trying to act tough and then backing away because they knew who was going to win if the sparring became any more than words.”

    Other would call that intelligence. If Ron hadn’t been so “tough,” he might have helped the Rockets in the 4th. That sort of toughness ends championship hopes (see the 04 Pacers).

  27. Hertaginism, you are corrrect! I am a long-time Houstonian who has been here from the Summit- to Compaq center- to Toyota Center.

    Kobe is a great bsketball player, but he is not near as physical as Artest some of the other players in the league.

    As for Odom – I don’t care where he is from. In my neighborhood there were tough kids and weak kids. If Odom was so tough he wouldn’t go so long, so often without anyone knowing he was on the floor. He is very athletic but that is where it stops.

    We are all entitled to our opinions of how the series will turn out. Mine changed tonight, but if yours didn’t then more power to you.

  28. “I think that is exactly what Fish was trying to do, get the game called closer. His foul on Scola lead to Artest’s ejection because the refs weren’t about to allow anything resembling a fight break out, and the Lakers started getting the ticky-tack calls in their favor for a change at that point.”

    I agree that he might have been trying to get the refs involved, but the closer foul calls definitely didn’t go our way in the 4th, Houston in the bonus pretty much entirely on ticky tack calls after like one trip down the court. I’m not going to pretend to be objective on that score, but while I know the Rockets foul at a lower rate than pretty much the whole league (adjusted for pace) I don’t see what we did in the 4th as anything they don’t do as a matter of practice.

    And Artest hung himself, the refs were happy to T him up once but then he had to go running after kobe clear across the court…

    As if the rockets need to stand up for themselves because suddenly the lakers are crossing a phyicality line… right. Artest has been playing like that with clear pushing, shoving, and slapping, since he was in the league — the incidental elbow shouldn’t lead to anything against kobe: if he blindly flails his arm 3 inches lower he hits Artest in the shoulder (the same shoulder that had been draped over him on the play, illegally) and nobody cares.

  29. Snoopy 2006,

    Let’s keep in mind who threw the elbow! I played ball and I know that is not a normal box-out motion. Artest never even put his hands on Kobe, he just let him know payback is coming. He didn’t do anything to get ejected and you know it.

    My point about Lakers playing into Houstons’s hands is that they riled the Houston base up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kobe curled up on the floor a time or two.

  30. Great Wall, the Laker base is riled up now too, and as you know that means basically squat on the court.

    And, please, by all means, knock Kobe down a few times and really piss him off. Please.

  31. Kurt, the difference is that the next two games are in Houston. I don’t think Kobe getting pissed-off is going to help you any more than Artest getting pissed is going to help us.

    If you played then you know what I mean about curled on the floor. An accidental knee, or an unintentional fist to the nads. Not condoning it, but it is Artest we’re talking about.

    I

  32. I say Artest comes back down to earth in Gm 3 trying to hard to take over and show Kobe up. He will not continue his hot shooting streak. (which has been impressive) How is a team that has finally gotten out of the first round “naturally tougher” than the Lakers? When’s the last time the rockets won a game 7 at home or on the road if it were to go 7 games?

  33. Great Wall,

    And then Kobe torches Houston for 50 and Artest goes into hero mode and throws up bad shots, as glaringly evinced by the game earlier this season.

    Stop making these absurd comments about “who is tougher” or “who is more physical.” The Lakers took Houston out of its game tonight, Yao was neutralized by Gasol fronting him and forcing him into turnovers, and the Lakers torched Houston on the fast break. If the most you can say about the rest of the series is that Houston will win because they’ll be more motivated, then that means squat. Unless you begin to address the problems Houston has against the Lakers’ play, then you’re harping about a dead horse.

  34. During the season Defensive FT/FG:
    - rockets = .192
    - lakers = .213
    - average = .236

    In a 80 FGA game like this one (also the league average) that would mean the rockets get maybe 1.5 FTA more than the lakers.

    Not +3 like this game or +10 like last game, especially given HCA.

    Shows that the ref have been letting contact go the last two games and will probably be calling it a lot tighter from now on.

  35. http://www.freep.com/article/20090506/SPORTS03/905060359/1051/Report%20%20%20Sheed%20wants%20$8%20million%20next%20year%20Pistons%20Basketball

    On another note, ‘Sheed wants $8 million to play next year. Eight million. If I was a team remotely interested in him, I would barely shove more than the biannual exception on him. Looks like his career his over.

  36. I’ve been saying this before, but Pau really has Yao’s number. Anyone who watched Spain vs China in the olympics will know what I’m talking about.

    1. He does as good a job as anyone defending him. A mixture of fronting him in order to deny him the ball, and poking it away once he receives it. Of course, Yao can still go off for 20-10 – one cannot forget that he’s one of the game’s best players.

    2. The best D on Yao however is Pau’s offence. There’s simply no way Yao can stay with him. Be it on the break or in the post, or even stepping out for the midrange jumper. This has two extremly important effects: First of all Yao gets tired, and second of all he gets into foul trouble. The refs tend to call fouls on bigger players more easily (probably out of some weird sense of justice: “aw don’t hurt the little guy!”), which is why Utah for instance gets away with totally abusing Pau without any calls, while Yao isn’t allowed the same luxury.

    It still amazes me that we keep going away from this as the game progresses. I love Kobe’s game, and when he’s on he can be deadly. But even when he’s on fire we’re STILL more efficient when we go through Pau. It get’s Houston into foul trouble, and it gives every Laker more open looks.

    On a sidenote I think that people are seriously underestimating Luis Scola. We’re talking about a two time MVP from the Spanish league (second best league in the world) and one of the key components in Argentinas success on the international stage. And Doug Collins compares him to Chucky Hayes? Come on now.. I’m not saying he’s at the level of Yao or Pau, but this guy has some serious game – including post-moves and a good midrange jumper.

    As far as the series goes, it’s the Lakers’ series to lose. The Rockets actually played great this game, but the Lakers are simply too good. If they get out and run, and play through Pau in the half-court, they will advance. Also, Artest will not keep hitting shots like he did this game. What he will do however is keep shooting. I actually think that his huge game 2 can be a blessing in disguise, since he’s now convinced he’s at Kobe’s level and hence will take bad shots in the coming games.

  37. This notion of fake physicality is just stupid. What does that even mean? The Rockets are a more physical team based solely on who is on the team (Hayes, Artest, Landry). But the Lakers are not going to back down, especially Kobe. If Artest and any Rocket fan thinks that pissing Kobe off and talking crap to him is going to make him play worst, than they don’t watch Kobe play very often. Kobe can be the most singularly focused player in the league since Jordan and pissing him off only makes him focus more. That’s not a good thing. Don’t forget the game in Houston where Kobe after a confrontation with Artest torched the Rockets for 18 pts in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the game.

    If the Rockets keep turning the ball over at the pace they have in the last two games it will be a hard series for them to win. Turnovers mean easy points for the Lakers. The Lakers have been doing a good job so far in the first two games of forcing turnovers (35 total). They have also done a good job on the boards (for the most part).

    Yao will have a better game in game 3 if he can stay on the court, but that does not automatically mean a Rocket win, I doubt Landry goes 21, 10 again. I like Landry but he is not going to be that effective every night.

  38. If Rondo didn’t get suspended for throwing Hinrich into the scorer’s table, it’d be tough to make the case for Fish to get suspended. His arm / shoulder hit the upper chest of a standing player and knocked him down. (As an aside, when normal people like you and I get hit with an elbow in the chest, we don’t hit the ground ass-first like we’ve been shot. Only people schooled in the art of flopping to do that. I’m just sayin’…)

    Kobe’s elbow looked to me like something in line with normal play – trying to dislodge Artest’s arms from his with a 6″ windup. Certainly doesn’t compare to Howard’s UFC-style elbow throw.

  39. Plenty of terrible calls on both sides last night. I doubt Kobe will be suspended, Fisher might, both of them and Jackson will be fined. I’m happy with the way my Rockets played overall, though they turned it over a bit too much. Battier defended Kobe about as well as you can, no way to stop him if he’s scoring 40 points on (mostly) contested jumpers. If the Rockets keep Yao out of foul trouble and get him the ball a bit more effectively, a different game. If Kobe goes off like that three more times, the Rockets will have a hard time getting to the next round, but otherwise I like their chances.

    I’m not sure I like either of these teams’ chances against the Nuggets, though. They are playing out of their minds right now!

  40. I cannot wait for Friday and Sunday’s games!

  41. Over 600 comments?? Safe to say this is the most excitig second round series?? Go Lakers!!

  42. Also, I thought Bynum gave some active 4th quarter minutes. They didn’t necessarily translate into points or boards, but he clogged the lane, played good active D on Yao by fronting (save that one cheap one where he got called for the push), and moved the ball (I’m thinking of the hand-off to Sasha followed by a brutal screen to his guy that resulted in the made shot). Good to see.

    And I thought Farmar showed a ton of mental toughness – buried on the bench, written off by many (including myself), and still brought it tonight. Props.

  43. Also, I have to agree with KD here:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Behind-the-Box-Score-where-the-Lakers-followed-;_ylt=AmZmt0KxbZK_1Hi4kV2ZdgbZrYZ4?urn=nba,161780#remaining-content

    I loved these types of ridiculous games from Kobe, but not at the expense of getting our offense in rhythm. I’m afraid that this type of effort from him isn’t sustainable in the long run (maybe the 2005-2006 Kobe could do it, but not now), and we need to prepare the rest of the Lakers to step up offensively and trust the system.

  44. It would be a good idea to put Mbenga in the next game. He will give you six fouls, good energy and a type of enforcer in the middle. Bynum is becoming a shrinking violet, sometimes you must show testicular fortitude but in Bynum’s case, he’s still a green-pea and has a few more years before he’s ready for play-off basketball.

  45. Everyone can debate Fisher’s play – was it toughness, a dirty play, meant to inspire his team, send a message to Rockets, etc, etc. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed like it was payback to Scola in a moment of frustration. Scola (like Varejao for example) is a player that is tough and plays right up against the line of clean play. Consistently, he’ll grab a jersey, he’ll push, he’ll hold – and that’s fine. I think what gets players upset is when innoncence is proclaimed after one of these actions and then when the same thing is done to him an exaggerated over selling of that action against him occurs from his end. I think Fish just got frustrated with that stuff and with Scola running his mouth to LO. That’s why it reminded me Zidane in the World Cup.

    As for the Lakers being “fake tough” and the Rockets being a “truly tough” team, I don’t really think it’s relevant. I say this because toughness needs to be backed up with real skill. In game one, we saw a tough and skilled Rockets team. Yao was dominant, Artest was superb, and Brooks was everything the Rockets could hope for after handing him the reigns of the team. However in game two, the Rockets were just as tough but all that skill we saw in game one didn’t transfer to game two. Yao was contained, Brooks came back to earth some, and while Artest was superb again, he allowed a series of plays to distract him to the point where he got thrown out of the game (fair or not). These subpar performances were counteracted from very strong performances by Scola and Landry, but turnovers and playing to the Lakers pace for too many stretches made it so the Lakers could control the game and ultimately win. So we can talk toughness all we want, but it better be backed up with smart, skillful basketball. Last night the Rockets didn’t do that. One last point on this and then I’ll stop – many fans think that Boston beat us in the Finals because they were the tougher team. And while they were the tougher team (physically and mentally) they were also the more skilled team. Their defense was excellent and their ability to score when needed was too much for us. They made jumpshots and didn’t turn the ball over. They played with heart, with grit, and with their heads. It’s how they won. I say all of this because the Rockets being tougher isn’t going to win them a series. This isn’t the UFC or a boxing match where your ability to win a *fight* matters in the escalated physical moments; it’s more about your ability to stay focused and still execute in the escalated physical moments. I think last night the Lakers did that and Houston did not, hence we won the game.

    (Sorry for the rambling) Oh and one last thing. Before this series started, Stephen – our resident Houston fan – said that the Rockets have an unbelievable record when Yao scores 20+ points and game one bore that out. In game 2, I think the Lakers really tried to make sure Yao would not have a repeat performance. So when Rockets fans say we did not find a magical elixir to stop Yao, I agree. However, we did use the same tactics that have worked on Yao all season and in seasons past. We made it hard for him to catch the ball and really made him work hard to receive and entry pass. When he did receive that pass, he often found that he had worked himself into position where he did not have an advantage and he decided to pass the ball out again. When he did make clean catches in position to make a scoring play, we came at him hard with a second defender and with Yao being unselfish, he passed the ball. If the Lakers can continue to make Yao work to catch the ball and then when he does catch it he’s either not in good position or we double him he will pass and his numbers will be down. This will make other Rockets beat us, and ultimately puts the onus on Artest, Scola, Brooks, Landry, Lowry, and Battier (and Wafer, that is if he still has a job). I think the Lakers will live with the results that come from those guys having to carry the load.

  46. on a totally unrelated note, can referees throw fans out of the game? allegedly jack nicholson was making obscene gestures at the Houston bench and berating the refs courtside – can refs do anything about that? Either way, it’s pretty hilarious

  47. I think the refs warned Jack during a playoff run a few years back that they would toss him if he didn’t get himself under control. Jack’s response, For the amount of money I pay for these seats, I would like to see them try.

    But the refs certainly have the authority to toss anyone in the arena . . . I think.

  48. Phil was complaining about Fisher getting tossed and said that Williams only got a personal foul when he did the same thing to Bynum that Fisher did to Scola. Anyone have a link to this clip?

  49. Just signed on and am floored by the number of posts. The Laker Nation has been awoken! I thought in the beginning that we would win in 6 and I still believe that. Pau and Odom are the keys. If they play well we roll. And will someone tell Lamar and Pau that Free Throws are critical, please!

  50. #635:

    Rasheed Wallace = Latrell Spreewell

    Less crazy than it seems.

    Another thought that may be less crazy than it seems. So far this year in the playoffs, the Lakers seem more like the Celtics last year (getting battle tested) and the Cavs seem like the Lakers last year (coasting to the finals, LBJ gets the MVP like Kobe, team wasn’t expected to be as good as they got, etc). I like where this may be going, people…but we do have to get there to make it happen.

  51. What a game.

    a) I don’t think Fisher should be suspended if the NBA goes by the rules they’ve been following all season regarding flagrant 2′s. However, I think we will probably be missing him because you could see him load up, and as usual the NBA will want to protect it’s image.

    b) I can’t remember if it was on here, or on another message board but I’ve seen mention of Kobe possibly being suspended for the elbow…that would be completely bogus. Stu Jackson has suspended him for more ridiculous things in the past, though.

    c) “Fake physicality”? We pounded Houston on the boards last night if I’m not mistaken. You can call the Lakers “soft” because they play a finesse style, but a lot of the time last night the Lakers beat the Rockets in a Rockets style game. There was a reason why we had as many fast break points and it was tough, aggressive defense. Wish we played it for 48 minutes.

    This series could end up nearly as good as Chicago/Boston if the NBA allows it. I hope they do.

  52. Yeah I’ve seen a fan tossed for throwing things. But this was no Jack Nicholson. He was really into it last night, trying to get Staples center into a frenzy.

    I think those who doubt that Kobe can keep this up for 3 more games (including Barkley) need to realize that he is setting the Rockets up to make adjustments in game three and beyond. He is forcing the Houston coaching staff to look at what they must do differently on defense. Whether it’s ball denial, doubling, or trapping, it will open up our role players for easy cuts and 3′s. He’s always carried the notion that if he’s covered one-on-one, he will score. And if Hou decides to continue to do that, I will put my money on Kobe encores.

  53. Jane # 653 I was thinking the same thing you are really on point

  54. I meant 650

  55. I can’t believe that Kobe being suspended is even up for discussion that elbow was hard playoff basketball

  56. the only reason the Kobe play is even being scrutinized is Artest made a fuss of it. I mean, if you scrutinize any play where players are tangled up under the basket fighting for position/rebound, you can find something flagrant to call.