Lakers/Rockets Game 6 Chat

Kurt —  May 14, 2009

First, yesterday the conversation in the comments turned to Phil Jackson and his coaching style — is part of the reason for the Lakers inconsistency based on Jackson’s laidback style during games? I’ve always thought that Lakers fans desire to see a coach pace the sidelines and yell a little is more based on the need for a cathartic release at players they are frustrated with than actual coaching issues.

But then in the comments Craig W. made a fantastic point:

I remember watching a very successful coach who also didn’t believe in making too many in-game changes and also did almost all his teaching between games — John Wooden…

It is a unique style, but one I would expect players with high IQs (Walton, Wilkes, Alcindor, Warren) would thrive in. The players must be smart and mentally tough to be able to function in all kinds of game situations without coaching interference. I think it is the best possible situation for a player, but they must be able to handle themselves. I wonder if this isn’t the reason most ‘modern’ players don’t enjoy systems run in this fashion – and why most coaches won’t try to institute them.

He added later that Wooden was very slow to call timeouts.


As for the game, the Lakers did a fantastic job in game 5 of exploiting mismatches — basically use their size to control the paint. The early big-on-big action of Pau Gasol passing to Andrew Bynum really set the tone for the Lakers, and the Rockets really have no answer for it. As we have seen this year, the Lakers need to feel the flow on offense for them to bring the energy on the defensive end (the Lakers are 7-0 in the playoffs when scoring 100+ points, 0-3 when under that number). Early offense from the bigs or even Kobe will be important.

The other thing the Lakers need to do is take the ball out of Brooks’ hands and get it over to Ron Artest. While he is capable of a big game, he is shooting 23.5% since Yao went down, and is shooting 7% from three. More Artest is good for the Lakers (unless he is having a hot game again). Carl Landry is shooting 65.5%, so less of him would be ideal.

One thing the Lakers can expect is better execution from the Rockets — as much as we like to say the Lakers were better focused on defense the Rockets made it easy with horrible execution of their gameplan.

Usually, it is the losing team that needs to make adjustments, and Bill Bridges sent in what he would do if he were Rick Adelman (besides just be nicer to people):

1. High screen-roll each and every set play initiated by Brooks and trying to get dribble penetration. I mean every single play.

2. Yes. Aaron Brooks plays 48 minutes. Sorry, you can rest in the summer, AB.

3. Every shot is either a lay-up by AB, or dunk by a big off an AB pass, or an open 3.

4. The kick out by Brooks will result in ball-rotation to the weakside to a wide-open corner 3 by Battier. (As Kobe still wasn’t covering Battier in game 5). Ideally Battier will shoot every ball.

5. The Rockets will shoot at least 40 3’s, ideally over 50.

6. The perimeter players will chase down the inevitable long-misses off the 3’s. If they get the rebound. Repeat step 1.

7. On defense pack it in. Invite long jumpers from every perimeter player bar Kobe.

8. Double Kobe and Pau in the post. Let them kick out for open 3’s from everyone bar Kobe.

9. Do not double Bynum. Play him straight up with Hayes.

10. If 1 – 9 fails. Full-court trap ala Vivek Ranadive’s San Carlos girl’s team.

If you want to watch the game online, follow this link to the ESPN360 broadcast.

634 responses to Lakers/Rockets Game 6 Chat

  1. pocket_rocket May 14, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    another unexpected rocket win. in game 7 it is any ones game, i expect the lakers to win. I would not discount that Houston has a shot at this. you have to love the Houston Rockets they just keep on playing and stun people


  2. Today on this blog I have been hearing about the virtues of not calling quick timeouts and not making quick changes because this is how John Wooden did it. Some of you have also suggested that its OK not to make adjustments in game because most of this can be done in practice like Wooden did it. It has been said that Phil trust his players to figure things out on their own and that somehow they will learn more basketball this way.

    However, I wonder if you all noticed that tonight Phil Jackson did call some early time-outs (although not early enough for my taste) to make adjustments (although not the kind of adjustment that a defensive coach would make). He did this because if he didn’t, Houston would have won by 30 instead of 15. And he did shorten his rotation (quick hook for sasha and no time for Powel).

    My point is that it has taken until game 6 of the second round of the play-off for Phil to finally coach as though a game was truly important (“Coach with some urgency”).

    I bet that he doesn’t hesitate to call a time out in early in the first quarter of game 7.

    I bet he will shorten his rotations even further in game 7.

    I bet he will make all adjustment in a timely manner in game 7.

    I know Phil is a great coach, but this team needs him to do his part in every playoff games and not just in practice.


  3. It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. We were a few 50-50 calls and a few shots from pulling out a win. The Rockets were making tough shots and the inconsistent playcalling was giving us a hard time. But I’m happy with the fact that we didn’t just quit after the initial burst. We still played with effort on D and rotated fairly well for the most part. On most nights, had our offense been its usual self, we would’ve pulld it out. Nevertheless, I agree with Zephid that Gasol made a lot a mistakes on D. He made Scola look like Gasol tonight.

    It’s always unfair to question coaching decisions in retrospect, but to think it was such a close game an early time out may have helped, or pulling Fish. How about we try KB-Walton-Ariza-Odom-Pau since SB/Farmar/Fish/Vujacic are so inconsistent?


  4. Per Don, people are acting like it’s Game 4 and we got blown out. We made a game of it, and it was our offense that let us down for the large part, and I’m not that worried about that being a concern in the long run.

    What surprised me the most was Phil’s yanking of Sasha. I think his minutes are all but done. Phil doesn’t pull players like that unless he’s really fed up with them. There’s no “matchup” issue to bring him out of captivity like with Farmar and Brooks in this series, and I think Phil nukes his minutes in favor of Brown.

    Also, people need to remember that this team (as Morey admits) was basically constructed to beat us. Undersized, energetic big men, speedy point guards, great wing defenders; this has bad matchup for us written all over it. If we get through this hurdle, no other team remaining in the playoffs poses the same obstacle.


  5. An actual quote (I’m not making this up) from Artest postgame:

    “Five dollar footlong is one of the best songs,” Artest said. “That’s a hot song. You’ve got the, and then five dollar footlong comes on. When five dollar footlong comes on, they should play that in the club. They should play all those in the club.”


  6. Why is no one talking about this?

    is anyone else worried about Kobe having five techs? The one he got today was ridiculous but 2 more and there is a suspension…he IS going to get two more in two more rounds

    Again, why is no one talking about this?


  7. bhzad-

    All we can do is hope the 7th technical foul comes before a road game, if it comes.

    Didn’t the yak attack at court-side mention that the League might take a look at that one and discount it from the count if they found it wanting of reason?


  8. There are a lot of things about basketball I don’t understand. At the level of understanding my mind resides I feel a deep disappointment in the team. I can’t understand why they look so ill prepared. It’s as if they haven’t had a whole season to figure out some basic execution on either side of the ball. Houston is consistently making the Lakers look like they did playing the Bobcats. Even Kobe was missing shots that he normally makes. Pau needs to decide he wants this. If he does then the team will follow.

    Look, they might look good winning in game 7 and then find that a Denver matchup is better for them then this Houston one turned out to be.

    If Houston wins on Sunday then I suggest they lose Artest while beating Denver and then Scola during their series with Cleveland, winning game 7 of the Finals after Brooks goes out with a minor injury.

    Aaron, in a sandlot you’d get punched in the mouth for being such a ass.


  9. I wonder why 630++ comments never appear on this site when the Lakers are winning. People have less to say when we’re winning?


  10. my bad, 610 comments so far, mine was the 611th and 612th 😛


  11. lei,

    It’s Laker Nation. If everything is going well, there’s no need to comment, as it’s expected. If something is going wrong, someone’s head needs to roll.


  12. This year, I am disappointed that our bench has not made a step forward towards progress, but rather has deteriorated into an unsure bunch out there. Last year’s disappointment was supposed to be a lesson for the young players, and to everyone in general, but like Kurt mentioned, this team lacks the killer instinct and the defense to even come close to taking a sniff at the Larry O’Brien trophy.
    No, we are not last year’s Celtics, because primarily CLE is better at home this year than BOS was last year. It’s just too scary, although we did beat them on their home floor.


  13. When all is said and done, I can’t believe the Lakers have been extended to seven games by a Rockets team missing both their #1 and #2 centers!



  14. J Sparks – Speak up, I can’t hear you.


  15. Okay, no Lakers fan likes it when they lose. But there are some simple truths involved here.

    1. The Rockets are good.
    2. The Rockets are a match up nightmare for the Lakers. Which makes the Rockets very good.

    Are there things the Lakers should and could be executing better? You bet your bippy. But let’s not act like the Phil and the Lakers are just big ol’ dumb stupid heads who can’t see what we can see. Guess what? It’s the freaking playoffs. These teams have no secrets left from each other. There is no magical rotation that will make the Rockets not-tough. Just as there is no perfectly timed timeout which will make the Lakers invincible. These teams are toe-to-toe and on any night one of them is liable to deliver the knockout blow. I know we expected things to be different but that was based on faulty data. The Lakers had not played this incarnation of the Rockets (not really) during the regular season. We, and the pundits, did not know. Now we do. Get over it and get ready for Sunday. It’s probably going to be one hell of game.

    (And not to jump ahead, but if the Lakers move on as I expect them to: Can the Dr. Doooom crowd stop with all the Nuggets junk? Yes, Melo’s found his stroke in the 2nd half of the season. But Denver is not the match up nightmare that Houston is. That’s not me saying Lakers in 4. It’ll be a series. But I think some of the folks around here will be surprised how much better the Lakers will look next round.)


  16. Rob L. do you think Andrew Bynum will dominate the Nuggets front court? He has a history of doing so.


  17. J Sparks,

    Yeah, a team with a so-so wing defender in Dahntay Jones and one that is primarily an offensive team is going to give us more trouble than Houston.

    ‘Melo has found his stroke, but has largely performed poorly against the Lakers. Billups isn’t the speedy point guard type that gives us trouble, meaning Fisher can be less of a liability on defense. Nene has fallen off significantly lately and can’t guard Bynum or Gasol and Martin is going to have his hands full guarding Gasol, who has a much better post game than West or Nowitzki.

    Oh, and Denver’s primary wing defender is Dahntay Jones…who isn’t even close to Battier’s or Artest’s caliber. Plus their backup wing player is…J.R. Smith, who is an awful defender. All this meaning that Kobe is going to tear Denver apart.

    Granted, as Rob indicates, it’s not going to be a cakewalk, but it will be quite a noticeable change should we get out of this round.


  18. I think we were given secret orders by Buss to have one more game at home so that we can get more revenue and re-sign Odom and Ariza next season. It’s gotta help, right?

    Honestly tho, this game confirmed something for me, and now I think I can really truly accept the team.

    With no offense to our female readership here, this team is ‘girly.’

    And girly in a way a girl is when she just knows she’s the hottest thing around, ever, by a big margin and sometimes wants other guys to just capitulate, throws temper tantrums and fits, flirts naturally, and… sometimes meets people who just aren’t dazzled by her and forgets what it’s like to fight to win their hearts.

    Oops, went too far.

    I just want the team to do one thing, and one thing only: attack the paint. They have literally no BODY out there if we attack from the start. Their entire lineup will be in foul trouble, and I can really logically foresee a situation where EVERYONE on their vertically challenged (but with gigantic, oversized hearts) roster is straddled with 5 each.

    To paraphrase Marakazi: Time to play true villain, not a villain in a hollywood movie where you just let the good(and weaker) guy get the best of you.


  19. Well, #618 summed up my thoughts pretty nicely.

    Just because the Rockets are filled with no-names doesn’t mean they don’t have talent. They’re consistently 50+ win team despite missing their stars every season. They play a brand of bball that has always given the Lakers fits(see Boston last finals).

    At some point, you got to give some credit to the opponent.


  20. I’ve been a Laker fan for the longest time, and given this lackluster performance so far in the playoffs, I don’t think that this Laker team has what it takes to win the ‘chip. The last team to have a real chance would have been the ’03- ’04 team and they would have won if not for Mailman’s injury. They can win once they perform consistently (see game 5), but a hungry LeBron would be a very dangerous opponent.

    Keeping Andrew Bynum was one of the best decisions in franchise history, but Drew needs to step it up. He’s a 7-footer who’s playing soft probably due to his phobia with having another injury. Lamar is hurt and the Lakers need him to produce and be tough inside especially with Yao out. To quote one of the articles I’ve read, Bynum needs to turn into a mothaf***a.

    Lakers will win game 7, and probably advance to the finals via a 6-game win vs. DEN, but interior defense and toughness will be key to beating the Cavs especially with LeBron just waiting to dunk on anybody inside.


  21. 607

    RonRon is on it. That Subway 5 dollar footlong song is fire!


  22. Haven’t seen the thread but I had to mention my frustration with Phil. Bynum was finally providing the Laker defense with an interior anchor and the Lakers subsequently were able to play solid 3rd quarter defense, getting more steals, defensive boards/stops and run-outs than any other quarter. Why go to an ineffective LO the whole 4th quarter? LO got torched by Landry (and Scola) ALL game long, and was a non-factor on offense.

    Also-sad to see D-Fish’s swan song go like this, each time he shoots I still feel its gonna drop so maybe I’m insane.

    Pau- Glad you noticed you could score from the block, even when they bring a soft double.

    We will blow them out in game 7, but if we play a team with a front-line similar to the Nuggs (i.e. the Cavs, or even Boston) we will struggle because with LO and Pau as our defensive and offensive anchors we get rooted out on our end and don’t challenge shots at the other. Bynum is the one guy everyone wanted to make a difference, well now is the time to see if he can do that.


  23. Frustrating loss, though I expect the Lakers to win game 7. LO couldn’t guard Landry or Scola last night (to be fair no one has been able to guard Landry this whole series). I don’t know if its his back or what but he was ineffective last night. I agree with Kwame a. Bynum was being effective. He was getting rebounds (though there were a few times where he didn’t block out and the rockets got a offensive rebound but everyone was guilty of that), challenging shots and creating fast break opportunities. Why take him out? I also thought Kobe sat out to long, but the offense stalled once he came back in so…

    Off topic but with the draft lottery coming up on tuesday I looked at some mock drafts and some drafts have Jrue Holiday falling all the way to the Lakers. I thought he was going to be a lottery pick, have his workouts been bad?


  24. Kurt your piece in the Daily dime was really well written as usual. You’re like the calming force that puts everything in perspective.

    Please tell me you punch your walls every now and then, then take deep breaths before writing. I just want to know you’re human.


  25. Yeesh! This thread was a headache to read.

    The Lakers seem to be frustrating a lot of people (me included.)


    I will not call for the heads of Phil and Fish as many have, nor will I say the team as presently constituted can never win a championship as some have insinuated.

    The Lakers certainly have their problems, but that is no excuse for “the train is going off the tracks and will destroy everything I hold dear” mentality that many have adopted.


  26. 626. Thanks. I think having children has mellowed me, you simply can’t get mad at every little thing and not enjoy the special moments. You have to take in the whole picture.

    But on the court (whether it is volleyball, basketball, anything but golf) I am very competitive, and can be to the point of being obnoxious. I try to tone that side down, but I don’t like losing. And I have punched walls, thrown clipboards and delivered my share of cheep shots.


  27. Game 6 reminded me much more of Game 1 than the blowout in Game 4. Forget the big lead or the lackluster start. By the 3rd quarter we were right back in this game and we just couldn’t get over that hump – like Game 1. We didn’t get the stops we needed as Houston made some tough shots (Landry’s spinning shot right into Odom’s contest, Brooks’ layup when Pau challenged him and the ball just seemed to slip out of his hands and into the hoop, Ron’s jumper at the top where Pau closed hard and damn near high fived him – I could go on and on) and then we made too many mistakes in that same period.

    Also, I know that many were upset when Kobe sat for so long in the 4th quarter. I think some of that was circumstance as he was sitting at the scorers table for almost two minutes before a dead ball allowed him to sub in. But I should say that I was happy that Kobe got his usual rest to start that quarter. I say that because when Houston made their push and extended their lead back to 9 to end the 3rd, Kobe made some bad mistakes that made me think he was tired. He made that bad bounce pass attempt that Battier stole, he didn’t run back hard and then didn’t mark Landry who got that reverse layup and one, he didn’t put a body on Scola after he made Andrew rotate to the corner because he didn’t want to run out there himself (two mistakes on one play), and then he didn’t box out Battier who got an O-reb and then got a layup. All those mistakes add up to 7 points (or 6 if Landry missed the FT – I can’t remember) and that was the difference between a two point game and a nine point game. So, like I said, I’m glad Phil sat him.

    In the next game, I’m with Kwame. Andrew will be a major key. Phil is having trust issues with him right now, so Drew needs to make Phil keep him on the court for longer stretches. He needs to be that presence in the paint that frees up Pau to play more freely. Because when we ask Pau to anchor us on offense and defense it’s a tough deal for him. Haye’s is just muscling him all game (which does wear you down), their guards are really penetrating and making our bigs help, and their bigs are really hitting the glass hard. We need Drew to take some of that responsibility off of Pau’s shoulders. I mean, when was the last time we saw Pau not have to grab a rebound, enabling him to sprint down court and try to get good post position? We need to see more of that.

    As for Fish, he’s in a dreadful place right now. I understand his limitations. But seeing him struggle with his shot like this – missing even the wide open looks – is a tough sight. Not because of how I’ve supported him and that I want to be right, but because we need those shots to fall as a team (I couldn’t care less about being right or wrong btw. I support our guys because I want them to do well. It’s the same reason why I don’t revel in their failures when I say they shouldn’t play or point out that they should be playing better). With Sasha in a *so frustrated he looks like he’s going to cry when he misses* mode right now and Ariza/Brown/Farmar not as consistent (historically) as shooters that enable good spacing, we really need a few shots to go down from Fish. Anyways, I’m both excited and anxious about game 7. As a team the Lakers have not won a win or go home game in a while (Boston, Phoenix twice, Detroit) and I want to see how we perform. If we win, I think it can be a springboard for more success – not in a turned the corner mentally way, but in a we’re more battle hardened kind of way. So, Sunday can’t come quick enough for me.


  28. RIP Wayman Tisdale. Wherever he is, the Jazz band just got a little better.


  29. 628. Phew i feel better now 🙂 You are indeed human.


  30. Regarding the “venting”:

    I don’t think it’s panic and I don’t think any one of us is giving up on the team. Yeah, we were all upset and angry, and there was a lot of disgust all around, as evidenced by the comments that are still around.

    I think it was more shock than anything else. We did not expect this to happen. We didn’t just want our team to win and we didn’t just expect them to win. We knew they were going to win. We knew that the Rockets would put up a fight but that they could win never entered our minds. We did not see this coming.

    I don’t think that all of us commenters here have given up on our team, or have adopted a “OMG all is lost and the Lakers are a bunch of hopeless losers!”-mentality. I know there are some who have. I have read a lot of columns from writers who have given up on the Lakers this morning. Non-fans, who saw yesterday’s game as proof that our team is complacent and arrogant, who throw around terms like “soft” and “mentally weak”, and it would bother me if I didn’t know that for all their faults and for all the flaws that my Lakers have, they take that sort of thing personally.

    Yes, the Rockets came out and sucker-punched us in the gut with the way they opened that first quarter. We fell, we never quite got back up, and we lost round 6. I was a sobering and unpleasant experience, a complete surprise that once again exposed several of our weaknesses on the floor. We have difficulties with quick pointguards, and we have no one who can fill in when Pau is as completely off as he was last night. Our perimeter shooting was not good. Kobe makes mistakes on defense, and Bynum still doesn’t trust his knee fully and is probably afraid of injuring it again so he doesn’t play 100%. Plus, it’s not fully healed yet, let’s not forget that.

    So yes, we were all disgusted and I think we were in a bit of shock yesterday, but I still believe that we will win this series and move on to Denver. And I think Denver will be very unpleasantly surprised and have much more of a fight on their hands than the “experts” think.

    Oh, and harold, bad analogy. 😉 Aside from the fact that a comparison to an irresistible Casanova suddenly having to put in effort to get a date would have worked just as well, comparing the playoffs to flirting is exactly the kind of nonchalance that everyone (a lot of us here as well) equates with our team.

    My favorite analogy is a legendary UFC champion–insert your favorite’s name here–facing a complete rookie, who knows exactly who the legend is, what he has done, and what he can do, and who genuinely believes he can beat him. The legendary champion is still going to win, but only if he is willing and able to fight for every point, every step of the way.


  31. 631. When all the guys from the TrueHoop network first started emailing the group, one of the guys there compared me to “Seven of Nine” from Star Trek. Logical but, um, well rounded. Humanoid but not quite human.

    I wasn’t sure how to take that.


  32. People should stop listening to commentators saying this was going to be a cakewalk after Yao got hurt. The Rockets with Yao don’t match up that well against us because we have long and conditioned guys that force Yao to work hard on both ends. By the 4th quarter Yao is dead tired and unable to contribute. Without Yao they match up much, much better especially since Gasol or Odom can’t make Houston pay for going small. Also Houston has a guy (Brooks) that we can’t guard on the defensive end and a guy (Battier) that guards Kobe better then any player in the league.

    People shouldn’t blow this out of proportion this current Houston squad is a match-up nightmare for the Lakers. If they get past the Rockets I think the Nuggets will be favored against the Lakers, but I think people will be shocked on how much better we match up against the Nuggets.


  33. On my way into work this morning, I was listening to 710 AM – don’t know the guy’s name, I’m usually a dp guy in the morning – and the host brought a somewhat interesting point – but not the way he described it. He was trying to say that the combination of Pau/LO/Bynum creates a lack of toughness. You saw Kobe getting in Pau’s face during the game, and talking to others. But no outward response from those guys. I think the toughness argument is utter bs – LO played with one arm a couple years ago, Pau gets beat up a lot and doesn’t shy away from contact, and Bynum…he’s just a kid, give him a break! But I do think that sometimes there are too many quiet but intense guys out there (can’t forget Ariza) and that does set a tone amongst the team. I’m not asking to throw chairs, (or a shoulder into Scola’s chest, but Scola skirts the line in my opinion) but sometimes you need a catalyst to increase the intensity. I thought kobe was trying to do that – although that’s never been his strongest point. So because outward intensity is almost aloof, It somewhat ties in to kurt’s initial post – you just don’t know who is going to show up and how.