It’s Not The End Of The World, But It’s Not Good

Kurt —  May 10, 2009

Ron Artest of the Houston Rockets

UPDATE: The official word on Lamar Odom’s injury:

According to Lakers spokesman John Black, results of Lamar Odom’s Monday morning CT scan and MRI are that he has a lower back contusion (bruised back).

His status for Tuesday evening’s Game 5 vs. Houston – which tips off at 7:30 p.m. – is questionable, and his condition will be updated subsequent to Tuesday morning’s shootaround.


1) In the first game of the 1985 NBA Finals (the first time it was called that, by the way), the Lakers got absolutely routed by Boston Celtics. Devastatingly crushed. Dominated in every aspect of the game. They lost 148-114, and the media dubbed it the Memorial Day Massacre. The Lakers won the series in six games.

2) 1972 NBA Finals, Lakers vs. Knicks game one. From The Show: “Lucas scored 26 pts. an, Bradley hit 11-12 shots from the field as New York shot 53% from the floor. They used a nearly perfect first half to jump to a good lead and won much too easily, 114-92…. At he beginning of the first half the Forum crowd began filing out dejectedly. It looked like another LA fold in the Finals.” The Lakers beat the Knicks in five.

3) Game two of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Trailblazer ripped the Lakers, 106-77. The Lakers came back to win that series in a dramatic seventh game and go on the three-peat.

4) Last season the Boston Celtics were taken seven games by a more athletic but far less talented Atlanta Hawks team, then were taken seven games again by LeBron James and what there was of a surrounding cast last season. We all remember how that turned out. But after four games against the Cavs last year, Celtics message boards and fan reactions looked a lot like the Lakers this year.

There are simple lessons here. Don’t say this Lakers team cannot turn it around and win the NBA title. Don’t tell me Magic and the great Showtime teams never had letdowns, because they had them (regular season and playoffs). Don’t tell me game four against the Rockets is proof of ultimate doom. It is not. (Thanks to Gatinho for helping me compile this list.)


That is not to excuse the lethargic performance in game four, or to dismiss the frustration with a Lakers team that can’t seem to stay focused. A team that wasn’t mentally prepared for how the game would change without Yao.

This one was on the players — Phil Jackson said he warned his team of a letdown and they didn’t listen. He and the coaches warned the Lakers this would be a different type of Rockets team, and they didn’t listen And you can tell Jackson was ticked: When was the last time Phil let loose with an expletive in a press conference? He is angry. Some have suggested PJ is just packing it right now, they clearly have forgotten how bad he wants the 10th ring to best Red. Phil is competitive, very competitive. But as much as you want him to yell to express your frustrations with the team in a timeout, that is not how he works. And he had 9 rings, so maybe we can cut him a little slack.

Also, Kwame a. made a great point in the comments:

Why do people keep acting like Houston minus Yao is trash. This seems to be a case of not having enough knowledge of the players who are contributing to Houston. Hell, all year Wondahbap was noting that Yao slowed them down against us and were better with him off the floor….Yea the way it happened sucked, but it was not like they lost to the Grizz.

What kind of offenses gave the Lakers fits this year? Ones with quick point guards that could break our slower PGs down off the dribble, teams that ran their offense from the top of the key area and teams that had bigs that could step out and hit 15-18 footers that pulled our bigs out from protecting the paint. With Yao out, what does Houston do for offense? Run the pick and pop at the top of the key with a big who can hit the shot. The Lakers responded by going back to old habits — everyone sagging off their guy to provide unnecessary help in the key, in doing so leaving good three point shooters too open. The defensive rotations were pathetic.

Darius chimes in:

I happen to think that we just did a really poor job of adjusting to what type of team Houston is without Yao. Understand that there isn’t a team in the league that changes more than the Rockets when they go from having to Yao to not having him. With him they are a post first, inside out team. And that is the team that we’ve planned every thing for and had mapped out our plan to win against. Now, without Yao, we must adjust to a completely different team that plays an entirely different style. Both versions of this team are very good teams and it’s a different game when you’re facing one vs. facing the other. It’s how they could have the winning streak that they had last season with both versions of this team winning at least 8 games in a row.

The Rockets came out knowing what they wanted to do with this lineup and played with passion. The Lakers came out unsure of what the Rockets were going to do but apparently being pretty sure it would be fold. It was not — the Rockets deserve the win for showing heart and passion in the face of adversity.

But the Lakers are still the better team. And if they come out with equal passion Tuesday night that will be obvious.