Lakers/Rockets Game 3 Chat

Kurt —  May 8, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets NBA Game 2 Western Conference semifinals in Los Angeles
I wanted to get away from the emotion of the last game and talk a lot of Xs and Os, but in an email Reed makes a very good point that emotions may well determine this series:

I think that is an often overlooked, but important, subplot in any series — which team allows some emotional/mental/psychological weakness to disrupt their desired execution. This is a real driving force in the playoffs. Often the talent difference is razor thin and the determining factor becomes which team can gain the mental edge and thereby force the other team to play with doubt, fear, or some level of discomfort. By “emotion” or “mental edge” or “psyche” I am referring broadly to any kind of emotion that affects play — doubt, fear, confidence, trust, courage, etc. Those feelings can drive execution — if a team believes in their system, teammates, and personal abilities, then they will execute with real precision and commitment; if they do not believe in themselves or others — or fear their opponent in some way, then that will cause execution to break down as they compensate for perceived weaknesses. This is what happened in the Boston series last year. They were not more talented than us, but they gained the clear mental edge and forced us to abandon what was working. Instead of running the triangle, we reverted to Kobe-ball…. The issue was not that we didn’t care or stopped trying, it was that we let Boston intimidate us — both in terms of gameplan and physical play — and thereby lost the disciplined execution that had worked for us.

It’s a good thing to watch for tonight — do the Lakers get away from what they do best? Does a fired up Ron-Ron try to take over the game single-handedly? Those things will determine a winner as much or more than anything else.

Tonight with the Lakers we get a peak into the point guard of the future discussion, and hopefully we are not left screaming, “Free Agents, we need Free Agents” by the end of the night.

Jordan Farmar could do it, if he plays a little smarter. The man used to just run into the pick in the high pick and roll and become lost, but against Brooks he is went under it. The problem last game was he went so far under it that Brooks could still turn the corner and get up some speed before Farmar was there to try to cut him off (and it was too late). Or, Brooks would just hit the three. If Brooks is cold again (he’s streaky) then the Lakers go under, if not Farmar has to fight over the top. If Jordan can make a couple little adjustments like that, he could have a good night.

Otherwise, more ShanWOW and maybe some Sasha at the point.

The Lakers had a good defensive game in a lot of ways against the Rockets in game two — they fronted Yao and had backside help there early, taking him out of the game. I liked the turnovers that created (allowing a faster pace), while Darius breaks down how he thought just keeping Yao out of the flow was key.

However, I think this game was won based off the work that we did on Yao. We fronted him, pushed him further out to make catches, and then doubled him hard which forced him to pass. Houston’s wing players helped us out a great deal by not looking for Yao on the re-post (as Dwyer explained so well over at BDL), but often times those wing players were up against the clock and went into a bit of panic by forcing jumpers and driving into traffic (and all because of the work we had done throughout the possession). As I mentioned in the last thread, if we can continue to make Yao a passer and limit his shot attempts, we’ll put the game on the shoulders of Artest, Brooks, Battier, Landry, Scola, Wafer, and Lowry. And while Artest has shown how good he can really be, he’s always one play away from making himself disappear (as we saw last night). And in the end, I’m more than happy to take my chances against those other guys than to allow Yao to dictate to us. Plus our fronting strategy put our bigs in much better position to help on Guard penetration. If Fish/Farmar/Brown got beat, Gasol/Bynum were in position to help as they were already in front of Yao (most of time at least) and did not allow themselves to get sealed off by his giant frame. This made Guards reverse course and burn more clock. If we can find ways to continue using this tactic even as the Rockets make adjustments, we’ll be in good shape the rest of this series.

The Rockets are going to make adjustments, as the (wait for it) Leg-en-dary David Thorpe pointed out at ESPN.

The Lakers defended Yao much better in Game 2, fronting him more in the low post and sending Lamar Odom into the ball-side box near Yao whenever the ball handler crossed below the free throw line (which is normally where they’ll feed Yao). It effectively bottled up Yao. Houston can try passing down to Yao from above the line, before Odom comes over, if Yao can keep Gasol behind him. If not, Houston could put Luis Scola in more threatening spots on the weak side, hoping to keep Odom closer to home. Or they can pop Yao out to run side pick-and-pops, possibly opening up driving lanes for Brooks.

I love Trevor Ariza but he is not strong enough to cover Ron Artest, so look for more Luke Walton tonight. As Darius pointed out in the comments, Luke is strong enough to absorb the contact when Artest drives and is too slow of foot to react to his fakes, he just stays between Artest and the basket. And that works.

As I have done recently, I’ll let Kwame a. have the final word:

Keep Landry out of the paint: In game 2 Landry was able to bring the Rockets back with a big 2nd quarter. He made seven (7) baskets at basically point blank range and also took thirteen (13) free-throws. He did this from a combination of out-hustling the Lakers for offensive rebounds and from being left open when the Lakers continued to double Ron Artest. We must put a body on Landry and not double off him. I’d rather let Ron shoot himself out of his hot-streak.

Keep Brooks from collapsing the defense: In Game 1 Brooks had 19 points and was a +11. In Game 2 it took him 15 shots to get 13 points. What was the difference? The Lakers did a better job of keeping Brooks from attacking the hole and collapsing the defense. The Laker bigs did a better job of dissuading Brooks from attacking for lay-ups and forced him to dribble through to the other side. This allowed Fish (or the other PG’s) to recover back to Brooks. Keeping Brooks from getting off is key to the Lakers defensive success.

Keep Yao from getting shots: In Game 1 Yao took seventeen (17) shots and played forty (40) minutes. In game 2 he took four (4) shots and played twenty-six (26) minutes. Most of this was due to foul trouble, but with Pau due to start the rest of the series, foul trouble will be something Yao must avoid going forward. Also, the Lakers fronted Yao a lot more. There were a few things in play here: 1) our guards did a good job of pressuring the entry passer and this dissuaded the Rockets from throwing the ball into Yao often, 2) our weak-side defenders (kudos Luke) did a good job sneaking over and swiping at the ball and doubling Yao on the catch, while still recovering, 3) Yao was not making quick enough decisions when he caught the ball. The Rockets will find ways to get Yao the ball more, but the Lakers need to maintain the strategies they employed in Game 2.

For a Rockets perspective, check out Rockets Buzz (they have a live chat going on game nights).

Also, if you are watching online tonight, ESPN360 has the feed, just follow this link at game time.

Kurt

Posts

506 responses to Lakers/Rockets Game 3 Chat

  1. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    @Zephid-

    That wasn’t working too well in games 1 and 2. Landry plays best when his man tries to back him down.

  2. Sasha finally hits the open three.

  3. So much for me worrying about guys hitting open shots…

  4. machine! finally with a 3.

  5. I like Brown taking it aggressively to the basket.

  6. sasha finally makes a shot!!

  7. Did Sacha just score?

  8. I still like Sasha. I don’t care what anyone says, I remain defiantly fond of his energy, aggressive fiestiness, and… hard foul! Yes! Clock him!

  9. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Wafer jumped into Sasha. No Flagrant.

  10. And then Sasha makes a moronic foul on Wafer.

  11. Wafer jumped into Sasha there. Foul should be on Wafer.

  12. sasha u fool

  13. That is entirely on Wafer. Why on earth is he dumb enough to headbutt an elbow anyway?

  14. As a rocket fan, no flagrant.

  15. Wafer jumped into him.

  16. If that’s a flagrant foul they might as well disallow contact in the NBA altogether.

  17. i cant believe i actually agree with something JVG has to say

  18. That was bogus. Wafer jumped sideways into Sasha.

  19. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    That was a hell of a catch by Drew to avoid the turnover there. Kobe dumped that behind him and he still managed the one-handed grab.

  20. I like that the Lakers are getting into the paint.

  21. Way to pluck that ball out of traffic, Drew.

  22. Starters! Send in the starters!

    Please please please…

  23. Bynum is finally doing what the Lakers need him to do: rebound, protect the rim, and make Yao work. Solid game from him despite the lack of scoring.

  24. Bynum continues to play well, play hard, and play the way we know he can. That is GREAT. If the problems were all in his head, this can turn it around.

  25. suspend vujacic!!

  26. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    BTW, has anybody noticed that that Pull-Up Nowitski jumper “Amazing” commercial happened with 2:38 left in the 3rd period? Really now, we’re defining a play that happens 15 times a night per team as “amazing”?

  27. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Kobe F’in Bryant.

  28. If only Farmar played this under control all the time.

  29. Rebounds damit rebound.

  30. Welcome back Ronnie.

  31. Good to see Phil calling a tactical time out there. Some lapses you do not let your team play through.

  32. I agree Wafer jumped right into Sasha. When did the rockets start playing so dirty?

  33. Even if kobe ends up shooting just ok, this is one of the best all around games he’s played all year. Subtle dominance.

  34. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I don’t much like Kobe taking that shot, even if it does go halfway down.

  35. I had a roommate after college who, when nervous during a game, would get up and clean the house. It was his way of dealing with the nervous energy. I miss watching games with him and how good the house looked during the playoffs.

  36. You know, the Rockets are damn good this year. No surprise that the loss of McFady makes them better.

    I can tell they are really good, because I am still worried they might pull this out…

  37. Farmar playing BIG.

  38. Um . . . bad shot Farmar.

  39. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Excellent job by Ariza there to not do is normal “bite on the pump fake and fly by as the guy gathers for his shot”

  40. Artest is going into hero mode.

  41. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    **his

  42. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    **his

  43. I love the way Jordan has played, I do not want the offense to run through him right now. He should not be taking early threes in the clock, I don’t care how open.

  44. We need to stop shooting outside jumpers and keep pounding it inside. Can’t settle and let them creep back in.

  45. I can live with that shot by Farmar, He was wide open and that’s a make-able shot.

  46. bad 3 by Farmar. too early in the clock and he had open lane.

  47. I want Drew to get in there instead of LO. LO is not rebounding at all and his defense is much worse.

  48. LO is a way better passer, and his shot is falling so he spreads the floor

  49. Odom has 10 rebounds, the most for the lakers.

  50. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Kobe is a bad, bad man.

  51. KOOOBE!!!

  52. Go KobE!!!

  53. Stop! Kobe time! (again)

  54. dagger shot!!

  55. Yes. Gasol is getting with the game plan. Rebounds!

    And Odom with the big dunk-in.

  56. HUGE

  57. Kobe with the clutch shot.

    And nice to see the energy from Odom.

  58. Loving, Loving the offense here. Attacking Yao off the dribble.

  59. go kobe! go LO!

  60. And Lamar seals it. We just have too much talent for Houston (or anyone else in the League- even the LeBrawns) and it shows when we play defense, rebound, and have patience on o.

  61. Is Yao hurt? He’s limping and looks in pain.

  62. From the broadcast team on the shot clock buzzer beating 3:

    Kobe Bryant beating the clock… it should be a crime being that good

    nice

  63. Yao looks hurt, the Lakers should drive right at him

  64. you make shots, you win. sometimes it’s that simple.

  65. yaos a tough mofo

  66. Cash em in Trevor.

  67. Yes, Yao is hurt. The were treating his ankle earlier.

    I admire a guy who plays through pain just because he thinks his team needs him. Classy, brave, strong. Admirable.

  68. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Now’s when you pull Jordan for Shannon – Free throws, no matter how confident Jordan is tonight, are not his strong suit.

  69. Make your free throws!

  70. Free throws, please, gentlemen?

  71. Why did Kobe leave Artest there for the 3? He was on him and then he just left him. Sometimes I wonder about Kobe defensively.

  72. can phil free throw shooters in there?

  73. im starting to like yao more and more

  74. These missed FTs are killer…

  75. Get the ball to Kobe, everyone else is bricking FTs.

  76. we need fisher to shoot FT!

  77. how come scola didn’t play for most of the quarter? is he hurt or something?

  78. Big steal by Farmar. He’s really working for his minutes tonight. That’s a good mentality to have.

  79. Farmar with the steal, he is showing he wants playing time

  80. i hate to agree with Van Gundy but i think farmar should start

  81. Flagrant 4!

  82. Sweet steal! Go Jordan Go!

  83. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Looked like a play on the ball, I’m fine with nothing besides personal.

  84. bad call…that shouldnt be flagrant

  85. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    F2?!? Really, that’s not right.

  86. That should be just a normal foul, no flagrant

  87. That’s a flagrant two for Artest? Wow.

  88. These refs are drunk. A flagrant 2???? You gotta be kidding me.

  89. That should not have been a flagrant 2. Flagrant 1 maybe, but NOT Flagrant 2. That is wrong.

  90. ok these flagrant fouls are getting ridiculous. that’s barely a flagrant 1.

  91. flagrant FOUL!!!
    LOL
    white guys do get some calls…

  92. As a Lakers fan, that wasn’t a flagrant 2, it wasn’t a flagrant 1. It was just a foul. Terrible terrible call by the officials, even I don’t think Ron deserves treatment like that.

  93. So how many flagrants is it till a mandatory suspension?

  94. That was not a flagrant on Artest. Not close.

  95. That’s a bad call.

  96. So…let’s see if the world has an uproar about a “dirty” play now. For some reason, I doubt it.

  97. that is not a flagrant 2

  98. That was a reputation call. It will be downgraded.

  99. Not even a flagrant. If I’m being honest here.

  100. I’m sorry, that was weak. Less flagrant than Kobe’s elbow. He hit the ball for god’s sake!

  101. TracerBullet May 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    This is when a normal league office would issue an apology to the Rockets and Ron Artest.

    Then again, this isn’t a normal league office.

  102. I’m glad Gasol got his left leg out from under him because it was close to bending the wrong way.

  103. #394: 4

  104. i cant believe i actaully feel sorry for artest

  105. You know, just before that call I was going to say that every time a hard foul is given you half expect a flagrant of some sort.

    Right on cue, Artest gets tossed on a BS flagrant 2. I’m sure his history played a major role in that call as well.

  106. it seems like flagrants are called based on how hard the player falls/acts after the foul nowadays

  107. Maybe they didn’t like the right hand action? It looked like it might have hit Pau’s throat, but the contact wasn’t that hard.

    Strange.

  108. Solid win. Took home court back, let’s see whether we can bring the effort in Game 4.

  109. if there was a silver lining in fisher being suspended its getting farmar confident again…granted its one game, but it might be that break through game he needed.

  110. Kobe playing w/ his taped fingers. Yeek.

  111. Good game by the Lakers! It was good to see a hard fought game without all the BS. I hope Yao’s ok.

  112. If that call had come earlier in the game, the conspiracy theorists would have plenty to work with. What a garbage call. How is Vujacic still on the floor (which wasn’t even close to being a flagrant) if Artest is thrown out on that.

  113. Great game.

    Farmar looked great. Bynum played well.

    We hit shots, played defense, and showed poise and discipline once we got the big lead in the third.

    Great game.

  114. even Kobe did not think that was a flagrant foul

  115. Good on the Lakers for coming out strong at the start of that third quarter. Great stops on all the rockets and hit a couple key shots. Kobe didn’t dominate but he was making great plays all night.

    Great job by Farmar and Brown in place of Fish. That play in the beginning where farmar boogey boarded on Von Wafer filled me with lots of confidence.

    Artest foul = not a flagrant 2, at all. period. refs called a great game all night, except that.

  116. I didn’t see the call on Artest – but it must have been a terrible call based on the chorus of LAKER fans protesting it!

    (I guess we are a pretty fair-minded bunch)

  117. It’s simple, Laker role players hit their 3’s they’re unbeatable.

  118. SVB-
    Angles. The ref who made the call had a good angle on Vujacic’s foul to see that it was not a flagrant. The angles are a little different on the break when everybody, including the official is in motion.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  119. That play almost looked like Lowry hit Pau harder from the back.

  120. Robert Horry on NBA TV as an analyst.

  121. Great game by the Lakers.

    Compete BS to eject Artest, he does NOT deserve a suspension for that. If he gets one I’ll be pissed.

    I hope Yao’s knee is okay. Hes’a great player, in every sense of the word. If don’t want him to miss the playoffs because of an injury.

  122. Rockets were not recovering to open shooters quite as well tonight. I’m not sophisticated enough to tell whether it was due to slow feet, or guys penetrating one extra step to give the shooter a more open shot.

    Either way, Ariza, Vujacic, and co. sure had fun shooting open j’s.

  123. Based on about a third of the flagrant 2s that get called, that was an appropriate call.

  124. I hope Yao is ok. It would be nice to see him finish the series, win or lose. He has too much heart and I don’t really want to imagine him sitting in the locker room crying. Cause you know that’s what’s going to happen. He deserves to be healthy and to play. The Rockets deserve to have him in this series.

    That was a good win for the Lakers. I liked Farmar’s hustle and play today. Bynum got back to the basics of what is expected of him, defense. Everyone contributed. Good game.

    I’m kinda liking not having Fish in the rotation for this series.

  125. They were worried Artest might get even rougher as the game ended.

  126. What I don’t get is that they reviewed the artest and still called that a flagrant 2. I can see flagrant 1 just cus gasol was in the air, but no way an ejection for that. If I made the call, I’d say a regular foul.

    Anyways, Lakers play a tough game and won and I am happy. They didn’t even play perfect, they had plenty of chances to break that game open.

    Good to know they are still winning even though they still need to make some adjustments.

  127. wow all I’m seeing is Farmar leading in +/-? Glad to see him get some finally.

  128. Mason,

    You’re probably right. Doesn’t change the fact that it wasn’t remotely close to a flagrant 1, much less a flagrant 2. Not sure how any angle would change that.

    I think Ron Artest is just not allowed to foul as hard as the rest of the players on the floor.

  129. I think the officials were taking into account how late in the game we were and they were trying to prevent things from getting out of hand in garbage time. Some justification, but still a bad call. That being said, I loved this game: a hard fought, tough, gutsy performance from both teams, with us prevailing in the end. Now for some notes:

    1.) Props to Jordan Farmar for stepping up and giving his all in this game. Loved the energy, liked the defense, accepted the shot selection, couldn’t believe he actually made free throws. He had a couple key offensive rebounds in the 2nd half, and some great hustle plays in the 1st quarter. Much as I love Fisher, I wouldn’t mind seeing Farmar start next game; his defense on Brooks was above average, and he was really able to contain Brooks’ drives. Couldn’t ask for more, except maybe a couple threes.

    2.) Andrew Bynum also had a good performance, giving good energy on defense and a couple nice putbacks on the offensive boards. Really loved the one replay where they showed Andrew working to front Yao on all sides of the key. Again, that’s all we need from him: defense and rebounding.

    3.) Ron Artest finally regressed to the mean, but he’s still abusing the crap out of Ariza. I really loved Phil’s choice to switch Kobe onto Artest in the 4th and put Ariza on Battier. It let Ariza use his length to challenge Battier’s shot, and Kobe was able to hold his own against Artest.

    4.) Please, please, PJ, no more minutes for Josh Powell. The only time when our offense got bogged down and our defense really broke down was the few short minutes when Powell was in. He’s bringing nothing on offense or defense; I’d rather have Bynum or even Mbenga go in when Odom has to go out. Powell is just not bringing anything.

  130. I think they called that flagrant 2 because that hard foul was really unnecessary. The Lakers had already put the game away. Ron did not need to make a hard foul like that. I think that foul was more of a message than an attempt to stop the basket. I think thats why the refs decided to call that a flagrant 2.

  131. It looked to me that it was Yao’s foot / ankle that was bothering him – very problematic considering his past history of stress fractures in his feet.

    Jordan, if you’re reading this – thank you for staying mentally strong and prepared in the face of negative criticism from Lakers fans (including myself). They couldn’t have done it without you.

  132. Hopefully this isn’t the end of Yao’s season but that didn’t look good. He could barely move out there.

  133. I’ve been screaming about it since Game 1, and so I can’t describe how damn happy I was when Kobe finally started driving. I felt like crying tears of joy. Finally, finally, finally, Kobe Bean said “f the jumpshots” and drove into the paint on literally every possession to close the game out. Was he successful every drive? No, the Rockets interior defense is great. But the more aggressive team always wins, and finally Kobe put his head down and got to the rim.

    What broke this game open? Outside shots.

    We still had huge dry spells (esp at the beginning) but we finally got some 3 pointers to fall. I believe it was Lamar and Ariza that really started to connect from downtown.

    Farmar’s shot is still off but he more than made up for it. What I liked most? One turnover in 32 minutes . It wasn’t his 12/5/7 that impressed me the most, it was that he stayed away from the boneheaded decisions we’ve come to associate with Farmar. He took care of the basketball, and played within himself. That was truly beautiful to see.

    Now we have a dilemma. If Farmar plays at this level, then he and Brown truly are our best PG options, especially defensively. I’m not sure what Phil will do with that.

    What happened between Anthony Johnson and Stan Van Gundy?

  134. Artest doesn’t make a play on the ball with his left arm, which is what he uses to shove Pau in mid-air. That was scary.

  135. Cedric Ceballos May 8, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Good win. This may be Farmar’s best game(or close to it) as a Laker with the way he was setting up perimeter shooters so decisively.

    At risk of thinking too far ahead, I think Bynum needs to be a factor for the Lakers to win against Cleveland, and all he needs is time on the court to get comfortable. I understand why Jackson plays Gasol/Odom though. He knows what he’s gonna get from them.

  136. I don’t think Yao did himself any favors by staying in the game. 10 points behind, he has one functional leg, and the series is far from over. Should’ve sat.

    Lakers have to be feeling good. Aside from a five minute let-up on d and the boards in the 4th, solid all around. I’m sure Phil was hoping Farmar would be his starting PG at the beginning of the season – it’d be nice if Farmar is confident enough in himself to keep the spot.

  137. dstilwell, which game were you watching man? do you realize how little sense you are making?

  138. Yao must heal. Too class of a guy, and if he’s injured we’ll be robbed of a great series.

    Kurt – just to check, was there something wrong with my above comment (#434-ish)? Hopefully I didn’t do anything to get moderated.

  139. dstilwell = troll

  140. i think this is the part where you just ignore the silly comment. “nothing to see here folks, move along.”

  141. plz dont feed the troll

  142. 435, arguably the worst written post I’ve read here all year. I don’t think it could make any less sense.

  143. @wiseolgoat: i enjoy the inclusiveness of the he/she slash usage. =D

  144. SVB-
    The official with responsibility for the Artest call was looking at his back from the lead position (close to the sideline on the other side of the key). All he saw was Gasol go up, then Artest went up, then Gasol went down hard. I could understand calling it on the floor and then calling it back upon further review, because the under the basket cam had a much better view of the play, but to leave it a flagrant on review strikes me as odd. The SV foul was different in that the center ref was standing right next to the play and it was pretty clear that Von Wafer got SV into the air and then “drew” the contact.

    Furthermore, do you really expect Ron Artest to get the benefit of the doubt when he gives interviews like he did Thursday night?

    So yeah: Bad ref angles on the transition and Ron’s bad rep.

    Artest presser: Refs told him they left it an F2 because of how awkwardly Gasol went down.

  145. Artest’s foul may not have been flagrant 2, but 2 other Rockets set him up for that. If you look closely, Battier holds and pulls Pau’s right thigh with his right hand as he is goin out of bounds, which cause Pau’s lower body to lose most of the balance. Then Lowry swipes at the ball and fouls him in the arm, causing his upper body to be held back. Then Ron comes in high hitting Pau’s arm and causing Pau to hit his face with his own arm. Artest’s intent was to merely foul him hard, but the combination of Lowry and Battier pushing and pulling Pau in different directions made the foul look a lot worse than it was. Remember, the refs were making the call in real time, not in slow motion. The affect of three combined fouls made it seem like Ron went for head hunting. His reputation didn’t help either. Do I think it was a flagrant? Not intentionally, but refs have to protect players. I think the refs thought the game was over, and with the history of game 2, they wanted both teams to calm down fearing that the Lakers might retaliate with a hard foul if they didn’t do something drastic. I think the refs actually did the right thing.

  146. dstillwell –

    the artest call came when the game was already decided. Didn’t affect the outcome, and doesn’t constitute evidence of a conspiracy. Unfair to Artest, sure, but not a whole lot more.

    I wouldn’t have thought it out of line to suspend Fisher another game, especially if Scola had been hurt. But 1 game isn’t soft.

    As for Kobe, the next elbow he throws may very well get him suspended. On reputation, kinda like Artest. His elbow in game 2 was chippy, at worst. It’s the playoffs…guys play rough.

    Anyhow, I find it tough to believe you’re not rooting for any particular team. Sounds like you’re definitely rooting AGAINST the Lakers.

    I’m rooting against them, kind of like how I rooted against the Bulls, the 80’s Lakers and Celtics, and other super-teams that just had a major advantage on talent. And I don’t like Jack Nicholson.

    But I would rather see the Lakers advance to play the Nuggets (and likely destroy them), then on to the Cavs.

  147. ron-rons a pretty good interviewee

  148. That is what I expected your team to play like when the series started. If they play like that they will be ok regardless of who they are playing. The Rockets gave everything that they had, but missed shots, didn’t get the ball to Yao enough in the 3rd, and were just beaten by the better team tonight.

    On another note, I never had the opportunity to watch Artest extensively throughout his career. I have seen him on ESPN, TNT, and the other networks but that is it. He has been a great addition to the Rockets and has really kept his emotions in check. There is no doubt who the emotional leader of our team is. Sure he still makes some of the most bone-headed plays ever seen on an NBA court, but he is actually a joy to watch. How can you not enjoy his passion when he is on your team. He is great in the community and with the fans. It is a shame that his past haunts him the way that it does. The last two games have resulted in ejections that no other player in the NBA would have gotten.

    By the way, thanks for your concern for Yao. That guy is amazing!

  149. Mason,

    I still don’t see how all that adds up to a flagrant in the first place. A hard fall does not equal a flagrant – the cause of the hard fall is what has to be examined. If the ref doesn’t see it because his angle stinks, then he has no business making the call.

    I see a handful of folks have talked themselves into believing that the call was justified under the circumstances, which is baffling to me, and I know you, Mason, are not in that camp, but we’ll probably just have to agree to disagree. Which is thankfully not a crime.

  150. 11-28 by kobe and 4-11 from pau, and we still win? good team effort today

  151. Can’t knock on us about losing a lead tonight.

    I absolutely loved how everybody came out aggressive and stayed aggressive tonight. There was a stretch in the third our defense was ironclad.

    Farmar’s energy and athleticism really helped us tonight. He got some loose balls, deflections, rebounds. But more importantly, he exploited the PNR w/ Gasol when Yao was on the court and Kobe was getting pressured. The side pick and roll with Kobe at the top left gaping holes in the free throw area and Rockets defenders had to rush to help. Yao is a complete liability and Kobe’s defender will not leave him so that really collapsed the Hou D.

    Hat’s off to Kobe and the coaching staff for using a heavy dose of the PNR. Kobe missed some easy 7-12 footers but also made some ridic shots, played great help D, and rebounded the ball.

    I’d like to see Gasol step up the intensity. He disappeared at stretches and seemed like he couldn’t get a contested rebound (finished w/ only 3 defensive rebounds). Credit the adjustment to put him in PNR’s and face-ups situations w/ Yao rather than trying to back him down. But Pau’s gotta trust that 10-15 ft shot when he’s open. He’s got to take it when he has the space created off movement rather than let Yao get back into position.

    Bynum did a good job of not forcing shots and really set some great screens that were pivotal (OMG pun) in helping free up our wings. However, he seemed almost too passive offensively. He should not be the initiator of our offense – we shouldn’t look to force feed him to create shots for other guys. But when he comes off movement and the defense is a step from being set, he’s got to punish the Rockets, esp for putting such a small lineup out there. It’s as simple as drop step dunk on a couple plays. Again, I would like to see PJ play him instead of Powell’s minutes in order to build that continuity. He did some good things but still could not get enough minutes to build the confidence that can carry over to the next game.

  152. From a rockets fan, props to you guys, in a pivotal game, you guys were the better team.

  153. Yea a great win, now there is some breathing room as game 4 is not a must win situation. If the Lakers would have lost tonight, game 4 would have been a must win. Of course we try and get game 4 as best we can but, even if we dont, I am now confident Lakers will win this series.

  154. Are the Lakers the worst defensive rebounding team left in the playoffs? Can somebody explain to me why the Lakers rebound so poorly? I mean, by all claims we have the height and athleticism advantage over Houston except for Yao.

  155. nomuskles – that’s the kind of inclusive, PC guy i am

  156. Some observations:

    — Powell needs to stop playing any meaningful minutes. He’s simply worthless out there and looks completely lost on both ends. Give Bynum more burn or even Mbenga some spot minutes.

    — Sasha can’t buy a bucket to save his life. His minutes should be going to Shannon at this point; the pesky touch fouls are getting just unbearable also.

    — Farmar needs more burn. He basically defied months of our vitriol and pushed the pace well. Not saying that JVG and Mark Jackson are necessarily right in that he should start, but more minutes are in order.

    — We really need to hit the defensive glass. 19 offensive rebounds for Houston was one of the main reasons they were staying in the game.

    All that said, this was a pretty good game. Houston’s future in this series hinges on Yao’s ankle/foot. Pray he’s alright.

  157. Going out of Topic for this one but

    Watch this link, a where will amazing happen commercial:

    Kobe to Shaq

    Nicely done, but is it just me or shaq really didn’t acknowledge the kobe handslap?

  158. Don W –

    Thanks for reminding me about Kobe’s help D. Wasn’t it about a 2-4 point game some time in the third when Kobe either stripped or blocked Yao on three or four straight plays?

    Just a huge stretch for the Lakers, and it gave them a cushion.

    Remind me again why a 7’6″ dude needs to bring the ball down to his waist when he’s within three feet of the hoop?

  159. OK, so my TiVo finally caught finished the game, and here are some thoughts that I had:

    -Obviously the foul by Artest wasn’t a flagrant two, but since the cost to the Rockets was next to nothing I have no problem with the refs making that call in an attempt to set a precedent of clean play for the rest of the series.

    -Was it just me or did I actually hear Van Gundy say that Farmar was the best point guard in the series. I mean, he had a good game, but lets not lose our heads.

    -If Yao is indeed hurt, this thing could be over in five games. If he isn’t though, Lakers are really going to have to come out strong in game four.

    -It was nice to see some jumpers falling finally, even if Kobe did cool off a little in the second half. Like Van Gundy and Jackson, I like it when the Lake show run the pick and roll through Pau. If it doesn’t lead to an open jumper for him, it leads to a good shot for one of the guards.

  160. hey Joe, I agree with you, I did not expect to get this game tonight, but did expect us to get Sunday’s game 4, win game 4, keep the Mo the go home and get 5, now we really have the Mo and win game 6 on the road, we have done this before.
    but now, it does take the pressure off, and we can afford to play it a bit ‘fast and loose’, which might result in yet another W, and for the Rockets, the added pressure will cause them to be tight.

  161. Mico – I’ve noticed the same thing. Look even closer – Kobe actually had to grab Shaq’s forearm to get any recognition, Shaq was too busy hot-dogging for the crowd to acknowledge the man who had thrown him that beautiful pass. When it first happened I thought he was pointing at Kobe. Who the heck was he pointing at on the bench? Brian Shaw didn’t throw that pass.

    It’s fun to compare that young, skinny Kobe to the hardened, trash-talking veteran we see today. OK, Kobe always talked trash. But still, he’s come a long way since then.

  162. SVB-
    I think we actually agree: hard foul, not flagrant. All I’m saying is to lay off the ref’s *initial* call. He was in the right spot, but the way the play went, he just couldn’t see it because he was screened off by Artest’s body. To me, and if I’m correct, you as well, the real error wasn’t the error in real-time, it was the error they made when he went to the video and didn’t change their minds. In the SV-VW case, they didn’t even consider the F1 or F2 because everone was in position able to see it and get it right.

    And hey… That “awkward fall” bit came from the game officials via RA.

  163. @svb
    I remember two wide open point blank shots being blocked by Kobe when it was just a two point game. Then a usually automatic 4-5 footer that Yao rushed and missed because he saw Kobe come for the over the top block. Great defensive sequence that set the tone for the second half, kept Yao out of rhythm, and led to a 10 pt cushion.

    Speaking of rhythm, the Rox are really on their heels right now after those deflating defensive plays, TO’s, and dagger 33 footers. Just like how game 1 confidence carried over to game 2 and made it difficult, we should look to end the series right away with gm 4 instead of risking their regaining anything mentally.

  164. come on post #462 LA is huge man,not drinking,not talking politics,just talking NBA playoffs ,not everyone in LA is a laker fan

  165. 462, Nick, Mark Jackson made that unfortunate Farmar comment. Can’t say I’m surprised that Jackson manages to not only be completely uninformed, but also wrong. Aaron Brooks is by far the best PG in the series, but that’s pretty much by default since he did score 20 pts in Game 1. It’s not as if Lowry, Fisher, Farmar, or Brown have given him any stiff competition.

    If the Lakers had played half as good in Game 1 as they did tonight, or even with half as much energy, we would be on our way to a sweep. While it isn’t good that the team needed a wake-up, it is good to see them playing strong with effort.

  166. come on post #462 LA is huge man,not drinking,not talking politics,just talking NBA playoffs ,not everyone in LA is a laker fan,but the 3 point jump shot into the laker was such a flop,the rockets got lucky on that one,what a bad call

  167. I love how dstilwell’s website is http://yahoo/

    How much more nonsensical can you get?

  168. Great Wall- good post, glad to have a sensible oppossing teams fan in the house.

  169. Cedric Ceballos May 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Ron Artest: “We’re gonna lose. We suck. I suck. I’m the worst basketball player in history…”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8GzOgnkWfE
    Not this has anything to do with the game, but it was funny.

  170. Great Wall’s been great, he’s been reasonable and backs up his argument even when he disagrees.

  171. Mason –

    I’m still not on board with the initial call, but no matter. It should be rescinded, and it had no effect on the game other than to give a goofball or two something to add as a postscript.

    And the Vujacic foul would’ve/should’ve been a charge if he’d have kept his arms in. Not sure the refs would’ve gotten it right, but I thought it was comical how hard Wafer jumped sideways to “draw” the foul. Nice natural shooting motion there.

    The NBA is a tough game to ref, I guess.

  172. You’d feel like Artest if you missed a bunch of open 3’s in what was a close game most of the way.

  173. Good to see Farmar get another shot and come through. Back when Laker Nation officially turned on the guy, i felt he still would get a shot in the playoffs and make his mark – glad he proved me right because this team can use a real energy/speed guy.

    Now, how does PJ balance playing time for the new three-headed-munchkin ?

    Cant say enough about that Dfish play – i think we will look back on that play as the turning point in this postseason – when the lakers finally picked up the intensity and started playing their gritty basketball. Can’t say enough about this win tonight.

  174. I’ve given Farmar and Luke crap all year. Both have been great this series. If Kobe keeps leading and they keep contributing, we will win this series easier than once thought.

  175. I just love the action in this series, very much fun to watch these games. Farmar, 6-8 FT’s, wow. I hope Yao will be OK and nothing serious has happened to him, it did not look promising for him out there at the end.

  176. I appreciate the appreciation. There is just too much negativity on most blogs. I purposely came to this site when this series started because I wanted to exchange rational talk. I am obviously not going to agree with the majority of people on this site because I am for the opposite team, but I love basketball. I made some comments after game 2 that did not sit well with most of the people on this site, but no disrespect was meant. I hope that I will be welcome on this site in the future, regardless of how this series turns out. I could go on our Houston sites if I did not want to be challenged on my opinions.

  177. *these games are fun to watch.

  178. Brief Points on tonights game:

    1) Sasha can’t hit anything
    2) The artest foul was at most a Flagrant 1, likely just a hard foul
    3) Von Wafer should have been assessed a Flagrant 1 foul for his hip check of Sasha – and not given 3 free throws instead
    4) We play better without Fisher (at least against the Rockets)
    5) Bynum and Farmar showed improvement – lets hope this is an upward trend and not a one-time fluke

  179. The Dude Abides May 8, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Our three-headed monster at PG should be letting D-Fish regain his starting spot, but only play the first five minutes against Brooks in each half. Then Jordan comes in, then Shannon, and later Fish, to match up with Lowry, then Jordan back in when Brooks returns. This was the best game I’ve ever seen Jordan play. I can’t remember seeing any bad decision he made all night, and he played good defense on Brooks, got some key rebounds, and made some excellent assists.

  180. Small point: Yao crashed the boards like a beast tonight. As a result the Rockets were in position for an offensive board almost every time they put up a shot. When he plays like that and Scola’s on the floor I don’t see many other teams with better rebounding potential on that side of the floor. Van Gundy was complaining tonight about how Odom shouldn’t let Scola punk him down low, but I think Scola is actually just really good at using his skills and playing with incredible hustle. Does anybody remember the US-Argentina game in the Olympics? Scola was far and away the best rebounder on the floor and the most effective post player overall. I’m a Lakers fan, but I like to see players who work really hard – tonight Yao was crashing hard and that makes it tough for us to seal out. Gasol was just getting overpowered and pushed too deep under the basket.

  181. Plus we fronted Yao more often. Which was good, but it makes sense he would get more rebounds.

  182. Led,
    You are right, when they front Yao he is in a good position to get offensive rebounds. That was actually one of the things that RA tried to combat the fronting defenses. The thing is that it is as sure a basket as there is in the NBA if Yao gets the ball in inside, so the Rockets would rather run the offense through him.

    Scola is one of those players that you have to watch to appreciate. Either you will love him or you will hate him (Usually depending if he is on your team or not). He will grab, pull, and poke (Also flop on occasion), but not in a dirty way. He does not do things that are hurtful to oppontents, but definitely does things that annoying.

  183. Yao’s a beast. Name a better big man in the league right now not named Howard.

    Kobe’s almost-halfcourt 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the subsequent “freeze pose,” was eerily similar to what LeBron did last night. We know they’re both watching each other.

  184. I want to commend the Houston supporters who have posted on this site for their intelligence and willingness to stick to a discussion of the ‘issues’. I must say this is quite a refreshing change after the Utah series. Maximum respect to Plan R and Great Wall and best wishes for a great game four.

    In that spirit: as much as I want the Lakers to win this series, I’m really hoping we see Yao on Sunday. I must admit I’m not sure I’d be quite so high-minded about any other opposing superstar, but I really admire that guy on and off the court.

    A great win– maybe I’ll finally be able to get some sleep.

  185. Great game tonight, Lakers fans. We are getting closer to our date with destiny…and LeBron. Jordan Farmar made a huge impact on this game.

  186. is it just me, or do the rockets appear to fail to understand the primary vulnerability of the SSZ– namely, the weakside three? Specifically, it looked to me like Battier was wide open a lot and never got the ball.

  187. lil’ pau, you are correct, but that is much less a problem for the Rockets than their unwillingness to force the ball into Yao. Why is Yao consistently being asked to come out to set picks for Brooks? I am much happier when Lowry is in the game because he is a pure point gaurd. Brooks is as quick as any player in the league, but he is not a real point. A real point would find a way to get the ball to the best interior scorer in the leage

  188. Sorry for the misspellings.

  189. That Artest call was terrible. That was a borderline Flagrant 1 because of the force used (he really gave Pau a forearm shiver with his left arm and wasn’t making a play on the ball with it, although he swung at the ball with his right), but I would have been okay with it simply being a 2-shot foul. But in no way was that a Flagrant 2. That should be reversed. Unfortunately, the refs and the league look far too often at what the result of the play is, and not what the play was.

    As for the game, nice hard-fought win. RonRon came back to Earth, like I expected. Kobe didn’t shoot as well, also like I expected. Good contributions from Ariza, Farmar, and ShanWOW off the bench. Odom was big in the first half. We really won the game with that stretch where we knocked down 3-4 treys in a few possession span.

    I hope Yao is okay – but it doesn’t look like it.

  190. Can’t front Yao and box him out at the same time unless you double him constantly. So it’s only natural that when you front him, he’s going to have a monster night on the offensive glass.

    But still, the name of the game is the 3, and if they start falling (55% for us!) everyone looks good (like Lamar making 2-2), but if they go the way the Rockets did (31.6%, Artest 2-8) it’s really going to be tough for us to score against Houston.

  191. I only have a couple of points to add because everyone has already said everything (and done it quite well).

    1) We got the FT line tonight. Kobe, Farmar, and Brown were 17-20 (while Houston as a team was 18-25). Our guards were in attack mode all night and were consistently going to the basket. This not only gave us free points at the line, but it allowed our shooters to get the types of looks that they’re accustomed to getting as Houston’s D collapsed to help in the lane. And our shooters responded by making those wide open shots. We’re a different team when all those jumpers start to fall, but it all started because of our aggressiveness when attacking the basket.

    2). When the All Defensive First Team was announced, there was a lot of debate about Kobe being included on that unit. Many thought (and maybe still do think) that he is not deserving of that distinction. Well, tonight he showed why he’s held in such high regard as a defensive player. Many will remember his blocked shots (especially the lefty swat of Yao’s layup attempt), but in re-watching the DVR I again saw how smart he can be on D. He was cutting off angles in anticipation of passes to Battier on the wing where Houston was trying to move the ball to a position to make a post entry to Yao. He was sagging just enough off Battier (who was in the corner) when the ball was on the strong side to discourage the post entry from the guard who had the ball at the wing extended. He was working his way through screens and getting in the passing lanes. And in the 4th quarter, when Ariza picked up his fifth foul, Kobe switched on to Artest and battled him for every inch of hardwood and limited Ron’s catches when he was really starting to do damage against Trevor. Houston was trying to make a push in those final minutes and with Yao hobbling, Artest was the guy that was scoring. Kobe switched on to him and we got the stops we needed because Ron couldn’t get a good touch or get up a decent look. Kobe may have had a big scoring night, but he did some real damage on D as well.

  192. I like the fact that our role players were able to knock down 3’s effectively in tonight’s game. Why the Lakers’ championship runs over this decade have been dependent on the 3-point shooting ability of its role players is something I do not have the answer to, but with our offense, there is bound to be a man open on nearly every possession.

    Active defense with great hustle. That’s what this Lakers team will need to accomplish what the failed to do last year. Scrappy and heady play from unexpected people such as Farmar and Walton, etc will only help us solidify our bench. I still remember when Powe came off the bench during Game 2 of the Finals and scored 20+ pts. Our bench play has been criticized heavily this playoffs, but I hope the bench is gathering steam and gaining confidence.

  193. The Dude Abides May 9, 2009 at 3:45 am

    492. Darius, I will heartily second your point about Kobe’s D. As for the Lakers getting to the FT line, that wasn’t the case in the first half, with only 4 FTA. The third quarter was better, as the team got more aggressive on the defensive end and it carried over to the offense as they drove the lane more. Also, don’t forget that the Lakers shot 16 FTs in the final two minutes of the game when the Rockets were deliberately fouling.

  194. 1. I’m glad my prediction about Farmar was correct.

    2. If Ariza’s foul in Portland was flagrant, then Artest’s is flagrant too. Gasol was in the air. For my money this kind fouls shouldn’t be flagrant, but I’d like NBA to call it in a coherent way.

  195. Guys another OT post but I think this one merits mention

    Chuck Daly (Coached against us in the finals 88 and 89 i think and Coached the dream team) has died.

  196. All – I was at the game (made the drive over from SA) and it was great! They killed us on the boards, got more foul calls and points in the paint and we still pull away. Kobe’s 3 at the end of the 3rd was awesome. Will be at game 4. Go Lakers! Fans here were so so.

  197. Again we fans are swinging with the wind. This is a game of matchups and in this series it is Farmar and Walton, players who usually have a hard time contributing, who have the favorable matchups.

    Perhaps Farmar should be starting this series, but don’t get carried away because the next series (assuming we win) it will be either Chauncy or Jason and Farmar should see a substantially reduced role. I wouldn’t be suprised if Fish pulls a Walton and suggests to Phil that Farmar start, but only for this one series.

  198. RIP Chuck Daly. Certainly one of the best coaches of his era. Two titles, chosen to coach the first Dream Team… just a great, great coach. This truly makes me sad.

  199. #494. Dude,
    You’re right about the inflated FT numbers. When making my point, I should have led with our guards attacking more off the dribble as that was the real key.

  200. Kobe along with some help D did lock up Artest for the better part of the second half of the 4th quarter, ’til Artest’s evening was cut short.

  201. TEXAS HOSPITALITY

    The Lakers showed great hospitality for game 1, allowing the Rox to feel right at home. They responded by stealing the game, taking home court advantage with them back to Texas. They wanted to steal game 2 as well, but hospitality has it’s limits, and Derek Fisher gave the Rox an unmistakeable sign that stealing has consequences–even in laid back LA.

    What would happen in cowboy country? Would the Rox be equally hospitable? Or. would they send a Texas message that finders are keepers, and they were unwilling to give that home court advantage back. Were the Lakers being invited to a barbeque, or a man to man
    shootout with Rox enforcer “Ron Ron”?

    Turned out that the Rox were willing to be hospitable to a point, but they were not willing to give the Lake Show home court advantage back without a fight.

    So the Lake show came to Texas as a group of LA Homies, determined to bring the home court advantage back with them–determined to win a shootout. From the earliest moments of the game, shots were fired and returned, but as the smoke cleared and the time ran down, Lakeshow clearly were about to get home court advantage back,

    So Ron Ron sent the Lakers an unmistakeable sign that hospitality was withdrawn for game 4.

    The Lakeshow must accept the reality that they face shootouts for the rest of the series with the Rox until only one team is left standing.

    We’ll see how those LA Homies respond to this new challenge tomorrow.

  202. I think any rational basketball fan (and they are few and far between) has to appreciate the heart of Yao Ming. Every fan, Houston or opposing, can tell that he’s giving his all on the court, and that he’ll do anything to win that won’t compromise the integrity of the game. People universally respect his determination, so it’s natural that rational people will want to play with/against Yao Ming, because he is simply a competitor. Watching him limping up and down the court in the 4th, you could see the pain in his eyes, not just physical, but the emotional pain of not being 100% to lead his team. Then, seeing him dunk on Gasol and Odom’s heads late in the 4th on his gimpy leg, you could tell that he has enough heart for two men. I don’t think enough can be said about Yao Ming. He has so much heart, so much fire, but he never crosses the line to arrogance a la KG.

    That and Yao is just hilarious. That “see you in the club” line was just too funny.

  203. Was rewatching the game…

    On Artest:
    He killed the momentum of Houston, when houston was still trying to bring the lead down to single digits there were a couple of plays where he forced up some drives or shots.

    It got so bad that the broadcast team referenced chauncy billups not giving the ball to certain people during moments in the game because they would shoot the team out of it.

  204. Sorry for the double post (premature clicking):

    @gasol
    Pau gasol has pretty good handles for a big guy. He did the between the legs dribble near the free throw line to set up a three point play. And even tried a semi step back dribble a few plays after.

    @Kobe
    I think he’s an arm shooter… His power does not come from the knees. The footwork just provides the balance but the shot strength comes from the arms. When you look at kobe’s three point plays now, it’s rarely the layup/drive/dunk variety but more on the hang in the air jumper. After seeing that block by battier but made it anyway shot (see shane’s frustration afterward) I began looking at his free throws. I noticed that you don’t really see the full lift coming from the bending of the knees but more of arm control.