Opportunity Knocks, Lakers Don’t Open Door

Kurt —  May 15, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets NBA Game 5 Western Conference semifinals in Los Angeles
What was disappointing and frustrating about the game six loss is that the Lakers had their chances. This never felt like game four, in the first half the Lakers simply were not hitting their shots (and not working to get them from good spots on the floor), they were not creating the turnovers that have fueled them all series. For one 8-minute stretch they did, but when the Rockets pushed back with the desperation of a team not wanting to get eliminated, the Lakers went back to not making plays. Sloppy entry passes (hello Kobe), missed open looks. Meanwhile the Rockets made plays. Credit to them. But that is one that just feels like the Lakers could have had.

• Reed actually drove from Dallas to Houston for this one, and I’m going to do something I don’t normally and steal a little from his personal email to me for the blog:

I think the fundamental problem was our discomfort on the road. I’ve been to many basketball games, but that was the loudest I’ve experienced. From beginning to end the crowd was charged (usually they lose steam, but they had a lot to cheer about last night…). I thought it really affected us on offense. After Houston made a few shots and grabbed a lead in the first few minutes, Kobe and Fisher decided to play hero and throw up multiple tough threes or long twos to quiet the crowd. They missed and abandoned the offense in the process, totally going away from our goal to pound it inside and work the offense.

He and I are on the same page about this — the problem has been the Lakers offense in this series, not the defense. The Rockets hit hard shots to get to 95 points. But the Lakers shot 38.5% (eFG%), just 21.7% from three and only Kobe was getting to the free throw line. Which goes back to the discomfort on the road idea.

• From Darius:

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.

• I’ve been the defender of Phil, but he added to all of our frustration levels last night. I’ll let Kwame a. take it from there:

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.

• One thing I keep reading variations of in Lakersland is “Gasol/Odom are making Scola look good.” No, Scola is good. Very good. He has a gold medal with Argentina as a key player. He was one of the best players in Europe before coming here. He is savvy on the court and is one of those guys who knows how to get his shot off in traffic. He is dogged on rebounds. He demands extra attention, it’s just on a team with Yao he often gets overlooked. He shouldn’t. And he doesn’t need the Lakers to make him look good.

• Just how big a game is this for Kobe? Big.

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