Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

Kurt —  November 4, 2009

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Records: Lakers 3-1 Rockets 3-1
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.8, Rockets 111.1
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 100.7 Rockets 107.8
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Rockets: Aaron Brooks, Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes

The Lakers Coming in: I called the NBA League Office to double check this: The NBA does not give out a big, shiny trophy for being the best team in the league in November. Not even a consolation prize, no lifetime supply of Rice-O-Roni. Nothing.

Yet reading the comments at this site and around Lakers sites everywhere, you’d swear we were missing out on something. The team isn’t firing on all cylinders right out of the gate and some people seem very concerned. If I could prescribe all Lakers fans a Xanax, I would.

The Lakers have played four games without their second best player, and they are 3-1. Their offense hasn’t flowed smoothly without the guy who makes their offense flow smoothly. Kobe took too many shots, like he was missing the second best player on his team (and like he has always done in the clutch). The bench has struggled like its leader has had to be in the starting lineup.

I’m not saying all is right with the Lakers. They turned the ball over on 25% of their possessions against OKC. They gave up too many offensive rebounds. Kobe made bad gambles on defense. There were too many misses close to the basket. They got away from the triangle too much. But in the end, it is a win (against a good team that could well be the Lakers first-round playoff opponent). But the important thing to remember — we are not yet 5% of the way into the season. It is silly to expect perfection. Every game does not need to be a 25-point win. Accept it, say there are things to improve on, that the team is working on them, and move on.

A few other notes: Phil kept two starters on the floor with the bench guys at every moment in the second half. For one stretch during that time, Ron Artest took over as the focal point of the offense, and he performed well. Until Pau returns and the bench rights itself, this may need to be what happens. And there was more good defense from Artest — you can say the Thunder did not get Durant the ball in positions for him to succeed late (they didn’t), but the fact remains that with Artest on him in the fourth quarter and overtime Durant was 0-5 and a -5. He did not key their offense.

The Lakers forced 14 second half turnovers, which was key (and I’m less sold on Westbrook as a primary ball handler than I was). I really liked the play of Etan Thomas, even if his hair scrunchie had an NBA logo on it (first pointed out by Brett Pollakoff). Once again, heavy minutes for the starters and nobody off the bench playing more than 13. That needs to change tonight on the second night of a back to back.

Injuries Note: No Gasol again tonight. However, the results of the MRI did not freak anybody out, he practiced Tuesday and he may be back by Friday. Patience. But things are getting closer.

The Rockets Coming in: The Rockets are hot, not only are they 3-1 but they smacked down Utah a couple nights ago. Our resident Rockets fan Stephen sent in some thoughts on the guys from Houston:

Starting 5:
Battier(SF) is doing the Battier thing — but he’s been uncharacteristically making 2-3 bad defensive plays each game. He is looking a bit more for offense and showing why he shouldn’t. (Against Portland he tried to do a 360 on fast break, lost the ball and Drexler — doing color — couldn’t stop chuckling for 2-3 minutes.)

Scola(C/PF) hasn’t gotten untracked thru first 3 games. He twisted ankle late in Preseason and doesn’t look comfortable yet.

Hayes(PF/C) is grinding away. When he outscores Oden it’s almost a sign of the Apocalypse :) Seriously he is excelling at low post D, and is very active setting screens and slipping towards basket. He is about only quality low post defender Rockets have.

Ariza(SG) is quickly finding his role in the offense. In Game one he repeatedly tried to drive the lane and constantly got stripped. By game three he has learned where he can get his shot-and is taking them. That’s the biggest difference between his Laker days and now — in Houston he’s taking shots that are contested, in LA he’d pass the ball instead. Ariza is not the Rockets go-to guy (Brooks is), but he is often the first option. In Games two and three Ariza got off to fast starts with 19 and 21 points in the first half.

Brooks(PG) has the keys to the kingdom. It’s his team. And he looks like he’s figuring out how to combine scoring for himself w/setting up his teammates. Instead of using his speed in straight lines, he’s figured out how to use the angles on the court to blow past his man and help defense.

Key reserves:
Lowry(PG). Many want him starting as he’s a much better passer and defender than Brooks. Aggressive taking ball to basket and usually draws several fouls. Often left alone at three-point line as he’s a poor shooter from there.

Landry(PF) plays physical, fights for rebounds. Has adequate 15-20 foot shot and is trying to be a post player with very uneven results so far.

Andersen(C/PF) is still feeling his way in NBA. Does have a good stroke out to 20-plus feet, nice low-post turn-around. He’s soft, doesn’t fight very hard for rebounds and can be pushed around

Blogs and Links: Check out Rockets Buzz.

Keys to game: First game of a back-to-back and this will be a challenging one because the building will be rockin’ — the Rockets fans will see this as a measure of revenge for the playoffs last year. Some players may as well. This is no easy win (on the road as the champions, there are no easy wins).

This is a smaller Rockets team — while Chuck Hayes is a good post defender he is six inches shorter than Andrew Bynum. The Lakers have a big height advantage —pound it inside. If the Lakers can get Hayes in foul trouble all the better because their post defensive options get much worse fast. Post up everyone, even Fisher on Brooks. However, with how quick the Rockets are, they may front/deny the post entry and go for steals. The Lakers have to make smart, quality entry passes to the post.

The Lakers must defend the three-point line — as a team the Rockets are shooting 44% this season. The Lakers defensive tendency to collapse and protect the paint could hurt them this game, they cannot leave shooters open at the arc.

Stephen also said these Rockets like to get out and run, but the Lakers have probably looked their best this year in transition (despite the loss of Ariza). The Lakers should run when they can, but post up other times.

Is Trevor Ariza officially a Frenemy of this site?

Every Laker has to be focused on defense, the Rockets have a balanced attack with a lot of ball and player movement. Against Utah, the Rockets scored 113 without one player getting more than 20.

Where you can watch: This game tips off at 5:30 pm Pacific, on KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles.

Kurt

Posts

198 responses to Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. Mmmm Rice-O-Roni….

    I agree, Ariza’s been impressive in knowing how he scores best. Love the way he’s playing. I’d say he’s probably a guy we root for except when he plays us…so more Fr than enemy, but no love lost for him tonight. I hope Artest shuts him down.

    This is one of those games I wish I had LA local TV for…

  2. I’ve seen a couple of Rockets games this year, and they remind me of the run-and-gun Suns, in that there’s a lot of good chemistry on the floor and they’re playing decisively at a fast tempo.

    It never occurred to me Trevor’d be called upon to be a go-to scorer. I never imagined he’d be anything else but a role player. Who knew he had it in him? He’s doing well so far, and I hope he keeps it up. Trevor’s a good egg.

  3. With their size advantage – the Lakers should do more than just pound it inside. Their lack of dominance on the boards has been a concern. They have been out-rebounded in 3 of their 4 games. This needs to change.

  4. Go Lakers.

  5. The Machine is dating Maria Sharapova? Wow. I’m not sure if this will be good for Sasha (more shooting confidence) or even worse. I’m in a little bit of shock right now, it’ll take time to digest this. Was it the cheerleader hairband that got her?

    On a side note, Dex Fishmore over at SSnR has quickly become one of my favorite writers on the Internet. His writing style is hilariously unique, sharp and with top-notch analysis. http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2009/11/4/1114159/lakers-visit-dust-bowl-take-part

  6. not only today did I read that Lebron would join the lakers next year but that Sasha was going out with Maria Sharapova?

  7. Thanks, Kurt, for being the omnipresent voice of reason in Lakerland. I think some of the considerable (read: excessive) anxiety Laker fans are expressing is implicitly due to the fact that the Celtics have been absolutely smashing their opponents while the Lakers…haven’t. Laker fans are always going to compare their team to that of their green nemeses, so the anxiety is natural. But we have to remember that roles could easily reverse down the stretch as the Celtics’ age catches up to them and the Lakers start coming on strong.

    I’d much rather be firing on all cylinders in May-June than in October-November.

  8. Kurt I’m a bit confused, when I wrote my post in the other thread I didn’t realize that you’ve already post up the new one.
    As long as in both threads my post was awaiting moderation, Why rejecting it in the new post and letting in go in the previous one?

  9. “and I’m less sold on Westbrook as a primary ball handler than I was”

    Which is why they should have drafted Rubio. They would be scary, to say the least..

    “The Lakers Coming in: I called the NBA League Office to double check this: The NBA does not give out a big, shiny trophy for being the best team in the league in November. Not even a consolation prize, no lifetime supply of Rice-O-Roni. Nothing.”

    Made me laugh:D And it’s so true – some people almost write off a team’s chances during preseason; it’s hilarious.

  10. I thought we would have learned our lessons about early season anxiety from last year, especially the stretch leading up to Xmas day. But everyone has their own unique way of being a fan. Some of us are perfectionists in everything that we do, and that extends to our basketball fandom. As long as it’s expressed in a reasonable way, there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to be a fan. I didn’t think there was anything unreasonable last night; people who criticized Kobe had solid grounds to make their argument, as did the people who defended him, obviously.

    Sports are about debate. If everyone agreed, the lovefest would get sickening.

  11. 3 – they’ve been outrebounded 3 of 4 games – while their top rebounder last season has been out.
    ———————————
    And … 3-1 puts them on a 61-62 win pace for the season.

  12. Ryan O if the Celtics keep blowing teams out,old age wont be a factor because the starters wont be playing that many minutes. Then what will we as LA fans hope for, a train to drive through the Gardens. I just dont like the complacency and mental mistakes I have seen so far. You cant just turn it on when you want to, you have to play every game the same no matter the opponent.

  13. Since Top Chef talk is thrown about here sometimes, I equate how watch the Lakers to how I approach my meals. My friends know I take food seriously but I enjoy my food too. Basketball and food, if the overall product is good, a win for the Lakers, good flavors in the food, then I’m happy.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t examine the meal/game while it’s happening. I might think something could be improved and would want it improved next time. The key is not to let the off things mar the entire experience.

    Just like there are food snobs when they find fault with a meal discount the whole experience and never really enjoy their food, there are fans who nit pick things to death, get anxious and miss the experience and joy of the game.

    It’s a balance. Enjoy the meal and game, acknowledge what can be improved to make the next experience be better. But don’t let the negatives overwhelm and ruin the overall experience. Be discerning but not critical for the sake of showing off knowlege and indulging in negativity.

    As for the game tonight, I wonder if we’ll see a concentrated effort to get Ron in the post much. He’s got the strenght and length to be effective.

  14. LJAY, my mistake. I just have a list of comments and thought you (as others have done) reposted something in the same thread when it got held for moderation. I didn’t check to see if it was the same comment in the new thread. I’m sorry. If you want to repost please do.

  15. By the way, the LeBron to the Lakers is just crap (from a Chicago writer who just throws out crazy crap all the time, his story never bothered to do any salary cap math).

    However, Sasha really is dating Sharapova. That is real. Weird, but real.

  16. 2 thoughts:

    1- I’m worried about the outcome of tonight’s game because Warren didn’t get the first post

    2- Now I know why Sasha’s focus is lacking

  17. @13 Points for a Top Chef reference…go Kevin. He is the Lakers of chefs.

  18. I too am pulling for Kevin, I am dying to go to Atlanta now and try his restaurant.

  19. Maybe that’s all Sasha needs to get his stroke back. Hit a few aces. Shoot some threes. It’s all the same. Good luck if they’re really dating. I hope paparazzis leave them alone.

  20. Kurt,

    Agreed on not going into “sky is falling” mode and that we’re only a handful of games into the season – but I don’t think anyone here can disagree with the notion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the bench. It might be championship hangover, failed attempts at exceeding expectations or not meeting the pressures of contract years and fellow bench competition. Whatever the case may be – and it might be worked out soon – I notice something “out-of-sorts” mentally, and that worries me far more than something that can be remedied in practice or when Gasol is back. Anyone else here feel the same way?

  21. 16 – They just started dating; Sasha’s confidence has been shot for over a year. I prefer the foolishly optimistic viewpoint: Sasha can’t get much worse. Now when Carmelo cusses him out and tells him he’s wearing a female hairband in his hair, Sasha can simply smile and point to Maria in the stands (sitting next to Melo’s family, of course), give Carmelo a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, and then light him up for 45. Blondes speak louder than words.

    Maybe a smoking hot tennis player is exactly what the Machine needs to get his gears going again. I speak of basketball, of course. And if all else fails, Maria can start doing her screams/grunts when the opponents are at the free throw line.

  22. THX Kurt, and my appologies if I sounded a little bit too bitchie.

    About Gasol;
    Spain’s biggest sports newspaper claims he’s got a tear the size of a lentil in his biceps femoris. He’s most likely to come back vs the Suns.

    What worries me, is that it seems that Pau:

    1. Is upset with PJ and blames him partially for the injury, because he asked him (and at first he got them) at the beginning of the camp, for three more resting days, but PJ changed his mind arguing that he needed Pau from the very beginning to establish the team dynamic.

    2. Is very dissapointed with the Lakers medical crew, because of the late diagnosis and the “don’t do a thing” policy they’ve taken in his case. He’s fliying his personal physical therapist from Barcelona to take over his treatment.

    P.S. If it’s true, kudos to Sasha, he might not score a 3-pointer in court in the whole season but he certainly has scored a 100-pointer off court.

  23. “If all else fails, Maria can start doing her screams/grunts when the opponents are at the free throw line.”

    What a lot of people don’t know is that Phil hooked them up. He’s got a master strategy of using Maria’s screams and grunts to throw the other team’s defense off balance when things get tight in the post season.

  24. Take your pick: Maria’s screams or Garnett’s howls?

  25. Because of where the sound is emitted from, I’ll go with the screams.

  26. First Lamar, now Sasha.. this season is just getting more and more writer-friendly. I just hope Sasha won’t turn into Jaris – better known for his hot girlfriend than his on-court performance.

    I’ll be pulling for Trevor tonight. I hope he scores 30+ but in a Houston loss.

  27. Jaric* rather, not sure what that typo was all about.

  28. Here’s a nugget on (Sasha) not having any value whatsoever:

    After the Lakers won the championship, (Sasha) went home and probably felt he was a shoo-in to play for the Slovenian national team participating in the Eurobasket Tournament. Guess what? They did not even invite him, which goes to show that playing in the NBA does not mean much if you have the talent level (or lack thereof) of a scrub nicknamed “The Machine.”

  29. LJAY,
    If you are correct – errrr the Spanish newspaper – then this is yet another ding on the Laker’s medical staff. If Pau and Andrew don’t really trust them perhaps the Buss’s should look into hiring someone off the Sun’s staff to run the group.

  30. Dunk Specialist November 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I just wanted to add my 2 cents real quick. Last year the Celtics jumped out the gate and were something like 23-3 before losing to the Lakers on Christmas. They pushed themselves too hard in meanless games and it cost the KG (and they still lost to the Lakers so there). The Magic started out 0-2 and lost to the Grizzlies and went on to the finals. I can’t stress this enough. The first month of the season isn’t important to wins and losses (unless you are a bubble playoff team and need every win). What is important is for the team to come together and find there strengths and weakness. That can’t happen until Gasol comes back. He is too big of a part to there offense (and defense). To me these games have been a secret blessing. Bynum is able to get a ton of shots and build his confidence while Gasol gets much needed rest from his busy two years of constant basketball. So long as Bynum doesn’t complain when Gasol gets back and cuts his touches, I think everything will be fine. I always think these kind of minor injuries are great for a team. They give other players a chance to either prove themselves or dig themselves in a hole (with no excuses), while at the same time not losing a player too long (and therefore hurting team chemistry and the player getting rusty). Ok now I have said my 2 cents.

  31. Breaking news on ESPN 710: Pau’s doctors have conferred with Laker medical staff and agreed that Pau’s tear has healed. He will trot around the practice court tonight, be available Fri, and will likely first play Sun (it is Phil’s decision based on his conditioning).

  32. Sasha is dating who? My god, if we keep this up then the Lakers will have much more than salary to offer to free agents. I mean, Khloe wasn’t all that great but Maria is something else!

  33. 26. ecat124, to be fair, what happened with Slovenian national team was a lot more about what was going on off the court than on it. Sasha got injured, and if you think the Lakers training staff was bad, apparently the Slovenian team medical staff wanted to treat a sprain by rubbing olive oil on his legs. Sasha, wisely, sought out help elsewhere. But him having never played for Slovenia before then this “slight” of a national team insider had the team blowing him off. On the court performance was not the issue.

  34. Anybody has a link to watch the game online?…..I’m at the office….thanks.

  35. Kurt,
    “the Slovenian team medical staff wanted to treat a sprain by rubbing olive oil on his legs”

    It worked for Popeye.

  36. Heres hoping Rambis can work some magic with the TWolves to hand Boston there first L tonight.

  37. PJ is the getting point finally. 2 starters in at all times until Pau comes back.

  38. I hope Ariza scores 70.

    And the Lakers win 100-70.

    So, yeah, frenemy.

  39. Dunk Specialist – appreciated your post. Well said.

    I’m all for critque, the rant here or there, commiserating over losses, complaining and celebrating, but let’s keep it all in perspective – and enjoy the ride. We are fortunate to be Laker fans and have the kinds of seasons we’ve had the last two years and the kind we are looking forward to this year.

  40. Streaming, but choppy…

    http://rwbsports.com/ch4.html

  41. dang these announcers are homers.

  42. Yes, the Rockets announcers (particularly Clyde Drexler) are some of the most homerish announcers in the NBA.

  43. how on earth was that not an offensive foul

  44. Bynum has to make those.

  45. 3 easy lay ups missed. C’mon, settle down.

  46. 41 & 42

    They’re not quite as bad as the Boston or Denver guys but they’re in the top 5.

  47. drew your 7 foot tall DUNK IT

  48. 46 – They’re third tier. Tier one for horrible commentators is owned by the Portland guys, followed by tier two with Boston and Denver.

  49. So what tier are Golden State and OK announcers on? They’re both fairly unbiased.

  50. NBA LP BB radio and Houston TV feed on mute is a good way to aviod the homers.

  51. Beautiful help defense from Artest on that play. Got switched onto Scola, denied the entry pass, and then cut off the dribble penetration.

    81 Witness – thanks a lot for that link, I was dying to see this game.

  52. I agree. Tommy Heinsohn from the Celtics is awful and it was particularly hard to listen to him during the national playoff broadcasts from the 80′s.

  53. The Kings announcers are pretty bad as well.

  54. Bynum, why are you back tapping? You are the biggest man out there. Dunk it!

  55. everything is one on one

  56. @ emh101, I live in Sac. Those guys are the 2 old muppets on the balcony.

  57. 50 – Unbiased commentators get to live in the tier with the Lakers guys.

    Haha how’s that for some bias.

    Of course my perspective is skewed as a Lakers fan, but as a League Pass subscriber, I get to hear a lot of commentators and the Lakers guys are among the brightest and most ubiquitously positive.

  58. Kobe out at the 2:30 mark??

  59. That pass from Powell was NICE.

  60. 81 Witness,

    Ha, ha. Too true.

  61. oh boy i hope josh can do that all year

  62. I liked that line-up. Didn’t like the last play. Artest handled the ball and the offense stood around and watched instead of sliding to the open space.

  63. Awesome, Hakeem in attendance – gets to see not only his team, but the work he put in with Kobe this summer.

  64. I like that we’re crashing the boards more than in the Atlanta or OKC games.

  65. any other feeds this one is getting choppy?

  66. Sub LO, Mbenga, and Fish for Farmar, Powell, and Bynamite.

  67. Too many jumpshots.

  68. Still too much isolation. This is the triangle offense divided by 5.

  69. Is Lamar playing tonight?

  70. Same link isolate.

  71. pretty poor box outs josh

  72. @james

    I was just thinking the same thing. Maybe I should take back what I said previously about how we’re hitting the boards!

  73. 2nd unit played better than first is this quarter.

  74. Substitutions pattern by PJ is better tonight. Might need to work on boxing out in practice.

  75. Who knew Artest could be such a good playmaker?

    You robbed him of the assist, Powell. Artest must thinking, “Someone give this guy dunking practice.”

  76. F-ing flop Scola! You long-haired soccer loving Euro!

  77. ah. the big lineup.

  78. ha ha, the plus minus figures are completely inverted from last night – starters w/ the – and bench with the +

  79. At this point, can we safely say Carl Landry = Lakers killer?

  80. ive seen josh powell just watch the ball in mid air and not box out numerous times tonight

  81. Isn’t Scola from South America?

  82. Yes – Scola’s from Argentina.

  83. Yes, he emigrated to Argentina, but he is Italian.

  84. HIi its great to see everybody back here on the boards for the new season!! Hello to everyone!! I’ve seen all 4 lakers game and is it me or is Kobe attacking the basket more aggresively this year it’s great to see I think the summer off has really helped his legs. What is stopping the Lakers from being a dominat defensive team can anybody answer tis for me LOL they have been terrible on the defensive end this year what gives?

  85. For a big man, Powell cannot box out.

  86. Not good enough to announce with ESPN, ABC, or TNT anymore, right John Barry?

    Did anybody else get the Laker hate from him, when he announced? He had his worst season when he played for the Lakers.

  87. man if pau had all of lO looks tonight we would have won already

  88. Artest!!!!

  89. The whole Barry family has it out for the Lakers.

  90. I’ve never seen a guy with a four inch advantage in the post miss so many easy shots.

    I’m talking to you, Lamar.

  91. Mo,

    He’s just disappeared tonight! His +/- is -10!?!?

    LO, a team worst. He looked like PJ gave him a earful when he came out this 1/4er. I have my doubts now.

  92. anyone else have another link?

  93. So… Lamar marries the ugly Kardashian sister, while Sasha hooks up with Maria Sharapova? Remind me to avoid the national and local media coverage of the Lakers for the next month or so.

    On more interesting news, since I didn’t get to a TV until now: How come Odom is shooting 3-13? What happened?

  94. PJ needs to sub in already.

  95. Fisher is getting way too much burn tonight…

  96. Nice awareness there by Bynum. That’s the pass to the perimeter we want to see.

  97. LO was just due for a bad game. It happens, even the best of them will have clunkers once in a while. LO has had great games so far.

    Despite all the problems, it’s still a close game. Lakers just need to keep it close while trying to right the ship. Typical Rox game against the Lakers, a nail biter. Not counting the playoffs of course LOL!

  98. Thanks J! As long as it’s nothing permanent, I’m not worried. :)

    Not worried about the game either. There’s over a quarter left.

  99. Hey Laker fans,

    I’m just curious how Ya’ll are feeling about Artest so far this season. I know that many of you were really down on him during the playoff series. I haven’t been able to watch any of your games until tonight, so was just curious how he was doing. I really enjoyed his time here in Houston, so hopefully he will grow on you. I have been very pleased at what Ariza has done for us thus far.

  100. Props to Lowry on that, fantastic shot.

  101. Artest has displayed some good decisions as a #2 or lower scorer. When the pressure is on him so far, I am a bit uncomfortable to watch the game. Look at that last possession in the 1st quarter, he was, um awful. He didn’t look confident either.

    Maybe it’s just him needing to get settled in.

  102. Hakeem Olajuwon’s guest commentary broke all kinds of giggling schoolgirl records

  103. man does luke suck

  104. Wow DJ Mbenga with the Bill Cartwright style approach to the hoop.

  105. Welcome back Great Wall, it’s good to see you around here again.

    It’s hard to generalize but I think the best way to describe Lakers fans towards Artest right now is “cautious.” He’s still learning the offense and looks lost at times, but that will change with time. Some people (the ones over the moon during the offseason) are hitting the panic button already. I, for one, love his passing and aggressive in-your-face D (which is a nice contrast to Kobe’s roaming style). I think he’ll fit in fine, but it’ll take some time for him to get comfortable.

    I think we’ll appreciate Artest more when we play the Nuggets, Celtics, or Cavaliers. Mitch was thinking deep into the playoffs when he made this move.

  106. Great Wall,

    Welcome back! If it’s the same Great Wall from the playoffs.

    I’ve been happy with Artest so far. And I think he’ll get even better as he gets familiar with the team and the offense.

  107. phil cannot leave artest with the bench

  108. Jeez. The 2nd unit has just been terrible this quarter.

  109. nice line up to start the fourth phil. the newest player on the team w/ the least talented people on the team instead of LO who is used to leading the bench.

  110. Yes, it’s me and thank you! I think Artest will be a good addition to the Lakers as long as he doesn’t try to take over games offensively. If he does you will get the same results as you saw during our playoff series. What he brings is an edge to compliment the one that Kobe already has. I think that even though you won the championship you could have used that.

  111. why is brown trying to initiated the offense?

  112. Farmar needs to close out this game cause Fish and Brown have disappeared.

  113. Good point great wall. That was my biggest concern after watching him play in Sacramento. Artest was the least clutch player over there at crunch.

  114. lol Great Wall – great minds think alike. That’s what I think too, although my post was held up for moderation.

  115. Bynum REALLY whines a lot.

  116. That was one of the worst traveling calls I’ve ever seen!

  117. bloody refs

  118. Scola that’s just shameful. Grow a pair and be a man.

  119. Please disagree, with my opinion of Scola. Vlade pt. II

  120. someone really needs to shoulder-check scola again

  121. PJ please sub in Farm for Fish.

  122. Scola has turned flopping into a fine art.

  123. Scola is good, but he is no Divac.

  124. i could swear every 50 50 call has gone rockets way this quarter

  125. Perfect example of Live by the Kobe, Die by the Kobe (kudos to whoever came up with that last night). Last night Kobe was forcing things, today these fadeaways are gorgeous because no one else is picking up the slack.

  126. I can’t believe it’s just the 4th game or so into the season and we have Kobe logging 40 minutes.

    On the bright side though, we will not be lacking any close-game experiences if this keeps up.

  127. And now we just need to play a good, solid 2 and a half minutes of D. And BOX OUT!

  128. Fade away, turnaround jumper, with a hand in his face… KB24 does it the best, and I am worried about the outcome of this game all of a sudden.

  129. i remember last night someone saying that kobe really kills these close games for the lakers… i guess they must be really impressed with the mamba tonight.

  130. If we could just get a few more defensive rebounds and make free throws.. we would already be up 6-10 points. Can’t blame the refs for a lack of effort. Can definitely blame them for that horrendous travel call though.

  131. way to atone fish!!!

  132. Bynum with the trap!

  133. RON RON

  134. Timely triple there from Artest. Can’t dislike that.

  135. some cold veins Ron!!!!!

  136. YES! Ron for the 3!!

  137. Artest 3, that is poetic justice.

  138. I don’t think it’s been lack of effort. This is some of the hardest basketball we’ve played all season long. This game was always going to be close down the wire… but people always underrate the Rockets. As I say that Artest nails a huge 3 to give us the lead

  139. Great shot by Artest and great drawing of the double team and pass by Kobe.

  140. i m predicting an adelman cry for a foul after the play.

  141. I’m guessing that however much you liked Artest before, you like him a little more after that shot

  142. Good pass KB, showing faith in Ron.

  143. I am reduced to a box score. This game has so many monster stats. Bynum is filling it up!

    Anyone know why they’re not broadcasting Lakers games on online radio anymore?

  144. Last night Kobe was recovering from the flu and was drained. He took fluids today and got lots of rest. You can tell his legs are livelier.

  145. Ha, ha. More poetic justice.

  146. now it’s Ariza…. wow….

  147. And I like Ariza a little more too!

  148. Bynum getting nearly 40 minutes of burn should be a good thing, as is Ron getting 38 or so since he has to learn the system, but Kobe logging 43, ouch.

    Still, 13/25 is not shabby at all! Half worried that him not making any 3s may be related to him being burned out and having no legs…

  149. i guess it was an even trade. LOL!

  150. You couldn’t script this stuff…

  151. Who wanted Ariza to do good tonight?

  152. that looked like a defensive miscommunication of epic proportions

  153. ok kobe here’s your second chance in two nights

  154. Kobe needs to end this in regulation.

  155. Trevor is just one of those players with a knack for the big play when it’s needed.

  156. Haha the writers are going to go crazy with these storylines tomorrow. Artest and Ariza, mano e mano. Now please don’t force anything Ron.

  157. 24 lazy on d. y kobe, y?

  158. I think Kobe needs to make on and then Shane to even the score now ;)

  159. And the Fish-factor is at work again.

    The site froze me off just so I could focus on the game cast.

  160. Rollercoaster ride!

  161. Well it wasn’t pretty but 2-0 on the first back to back road trip is 2-0.

    The Lakers need to clean up the defensive glass. They are allowing far to many offensive rebounds.

  162. Wow what a game. And Artest and Ariza making the last 3-pointer shots was nothing but just ironic.

  163. hey kurt whats up with site, cant it take this many ppl? Nice to win close games, hardley a great performance though

  164. At the end of regulation shouldn’t the refs have reviewed the clock and put an extra second or so on the clock? 1.7 is so different to 0.7 in an NBA game.

    Phil seemed to appeal for a review of the clock but got shot down in quick time.

  165. @Great Wall, #142,
    That would be a “yes, I do”. :)

    This was a great game to watch. Nail-biting, thrilling, exciting… and it’s still November!

    Yes, this is me in my “oh wow, this is a bad start”-mode. Kobe, Andrew, RonRon, and Lamar all played over 40 minutes each. I think they all average close to 40 per game so far this season. This is NOT sustainable on a long-term all-season basis. The bench really, really, desperately needs some seasoned leadership. Whether it comes from Lamar when Pau gets back, or from anyone else, it has to happen, and happen soon. We cannot afford to burn out our starters too early. We just can’t.

    That out of the way, we won tonight. Ron did good, Kobe was awesome, Andrew made his clutch free-throws, and overall, it was an enjoyable game to watch.

  166. I had forgotten what Laker games were like prior to the Gasol trade. It was always so darn frustrating to see Kobe try, and sometimes fail, to win games by himself with others only providing glimmers of competence.

    Back-to-Back overtime victories and 40+ minute nights. Ouch! I didn’t wish for 4th quarter bench runs, but having starters out there for 40+ is something I thought reserved for big games.

    Then again, considering Houston took us to 7, this was quite big too…

  167. Fisher top 10 pgs in last 2 minutes of the game lol. Top 10 worst the first 46. Did u see that steal? Man oh man

  168. NO aesthetic criteria whatsoever for the second half of back-to-back road games…All W’s are equally beautiful in this scenario……

    Was interested to hear how openly disgusted Stu was at the end of regulation…..never called Andrew’s name, but clearly was upset with him coming to pick for Kobe at the last shot….

    Kurt, as always, keeping the fans on the reservation and looking at the Big Picture. I am definitely guilty of constant comparisons to Boston…..what can I say? It’s residue from the ’80s….

    Nevertheless, 4-1 with Pau coming back……well done, boys. We are definitely the best looking “work in progress” in the NBA.

  169. Bynum lead the team with a +13 fwiw.

    Ugly game but also the kind of game where I’m proud to be a fan. Gritty gut out type win against a scrappy team. Kobe making some Kobe shots. Other players stepping up and chipping in key plays. I’m on the edge of my seat about to have a heart attack.

    Yowza! what a game!

  170. I loved this game. There was a lot not to love- missed shots early, giving up offensive rebounds later, matador defense by the subs to start the 4th, Odom’s general sub-par game and a dozen breaks that didn’t go our way- but the entire time the Lakers couldn’t get over the hump, you felt they had it in them.

    Kobe has to get the game ball because he carried the team at the end, not only scoring himself but getting Artest the 3, and Bynum his FTs at the end of the game.

    Bynum has to be singled out too, though. In some ways that was his best all around game as a pro. And I thought this before I realized he had 17 rebounds and led the team in assists. His defense in the last minute of regulation almost won the game then. When he was needed to come out on the perimeter to trap Aaron Brooks, his footwork and active defense saved several possessions. Add to that his FTs in the final minute of OT, and he’s making it hard to deny him the crunch time minutes he’s been calling for.

    I think road OT games like we’ve sen the last 2 games do a lot to bring a team together. These early games will define the team’s identity and individuals’ roles that will last for the season.

    Now if the bench could just get its act together, and get Pau back…

  171. Nevertheless, 4-1 with Pau coming back……well done, boys. We are definitely the best looking “work in progress” in the NBA.

    Okay, fair point, and when you put it that way, I have to agree with you. This is not an emergency.

    Matter of fact, winning 80% of our games is a lot better than I remember us doing before the Gasol trade… ;)

  172. Good to see us gut out a couple tough games…..big man comin back moves LO to the bench, hopefully that’ll be a remedy.

  173. Lol no other teams fans would be upset with a 4-1 start. Cant wait to see what this team will look like in march and april. Bynum most improved player? If he can average 14-8 and play 75+ games he can make a run for it.

  174. 178.

    “Bynum most improved player? If he can average 14-8 and play 75+ games he can make a run for it.”

    You do realize that Bynum averaged 14 and 8 last year, don’t you?

  175. Hey Everyone, sorry about the site being down. It was not a traffic volume problem, I was told by my host, but some other issues forced them to reboot the server. Of course, that happens in overtime and not at say 3 a.m. That’s the way it always goes. But I am sorry.

  176. I think it’s encouraging that after PJ called out Drew to rebound and block shots, he did just that.

  177. John Hollinger had the line of the night about Derek Fisher:
    “Best 0-0-0 game ever”

  178. j.d. hastings touched on this, but Bynum’s trapping, active defense in the final few minutes was nothing short of beautiful. I’d even say Garnett-like, with a faint taste of vomit in my throat. Completely flustered Brooks with that active D.

  179. the other Stephen November 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    183.
    i agree, especially when brooks was using fisher as a traffic cone.

    bynum’s arm is hurt. i wish he’d catch a break. i don’t know if it had anything to do with the play where he got fouled at the end of the game.

    http://twitter.com/KevinDing/statuses/5442045406

  180. Well, Fisher had 2 fouls and 2 steals to go with his zeros and is this not Kobe’s 98th career game with over 40 points now?

  181. lol @ fair trade… looks like ariza is easily winning the hearts of rockets fans as he did with us. liked that competitiveness and some flare by artest…that would be useful against lebron and pierce. more importantly it helps me say that ron really likes it here in LA.

    is this kobe guy something or what?

    so many men hurt…want to see this team as a whole before i start panicking or popping champagne. go lakers!

  182. If I were Kobe’s PR man, I’d tell him to say this after the game “How’s that New York Times article working out for ya, Michael Lewis?” and then pull out the section that says:

    “The reason the Rockets insist that Battier guard Bryant is his gift for encouraging him into his zones of lowest efficiency. The effect of doing this is astonishing: Bryant doesn’t merely help his team less when Battier guards him than when someone else does. When Bryant is in the game and Battier is on him, the Lakers’ offense is worse than if the N.B.A.’s best player had taken the night off. “The Lakers’ offense should obviously be better with Kobe in,” Morey says. “But if Shane is on him, it isn’t.” A player whom Morey describes as “a marginal N.B.A. athlete” not only guards one of the greatest — and smartest — offensive threats ever to play the game. He renders him a detriment to his team.”

    And laugh.

  183. 179. I think the key is 75+ plus games.

    We can’t expect much more out of Bynum in terms of averages. But staying healthy? Like Kurt said; that will ensure the leader of the bench is leading the bench.

  184. Geez, Bynum hyperextended right elbow? Just in time for a Gasol comeback, Bynum injures himself.

    These two can’t seem to find any time on court together.

  185. i don’t think bynum qualifies cause he was injured last year. MIP guidelines specifically preclude players “coming back from injury”

    but honestly who gives a rats behind about MIP? its all about the rings baby.

  186. Frivolous Individual Sideplot Update on the Kobe-Iverson career scoring battle. Iverson is + 26 points on Kobe as of tonight (24,012 to 23,986)… and the Lakers play the Grizzlies on Friday.

    Will Kobe overtake Iverson in a game they are both playing? By hitting a shot over Iverson? If Kobe is +25 points over Iverson during the game will AI substitute himself into the game? Is it poor etiquette for Lawrence Tanter to announce the milestone?

  187. Sad news for Bynum, let’s hope this isn’t serious.

    Telling quote from Hollinger: “In a sign of how much zip Artest has lost on his first step, Luis Scola guarded him for much of the night and Artest didn’t get past him on the bounce once.”

    Sadly, that may be true, but there was a play last night that stood out in my mind. Artest was the first Laker I can remember (in a while) who I saw fighting for a crucial rebound with that much desperation. It was incredible. Ariza used to hustle too, but Artest’s bulk and raw aggression makes him able to fight with Scola and Landry for those game-changing boards, whereas Ariza just couldn’t do that.

    Don’t know why, but usually the fiercer competitor is on the other side – Celtics, Rockets, whatever. In this game, and maybe this year, that aggression edge will go to our wingman, and I have to say I’m enjoying it.

    Can’t wait for Pierce and Artest…when’s the first Lakers-Celts game?

  188. oh n $20 says bynum is faking an hyper extended elbow to avoid the memphis game.. figure he’ll take a small hit now rather than a season ending one later.

  189. swedishmeatballs November 5, 2009 at 7:13 am

    191
    Had it been a road game at Memphis and had they announced the injury as sustained “in practice”, I’d seriously consider that theory. But since I saw him grabbing the arm during the game and then disappearing for the next play I’m sure it’s no superstition involved with this.
    Let’s just hope it won’t turn out to be a long-term, nagging injury. I’m fairly optimistic about it since Drew was able to split the free throws after he got hurt, but then again; muscles were still warm at that time and it becomes a diffrent thing once he cools off. Anyhow, I’ll take Pau over Drew any day so it’s great to have the spaniard back!

    keep em’ crossed though..

  190. The Dude Abides November 5, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Wow…just checked out both Houston Rockets blogs (Rockets Buzz, Dream Shake). Sounds like they need a waaambulance. Tons of complaints about officiating, the Lakers would be a bad team without Kobe (not even a mediocre team), the Rockets would have won with Chase Budinger playing, Laker fans who don’t live in LA are bandwagon fans, etc. And I’m just talking about the blog posts themselves, as I didn’t stick around to read the comments.

    Usually the opposing team blogs show at least a smidgen of respect for our guys, but none was granted. We beat a tough team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back in which both games went to overtime, without one of the three top power forwards in the league. Nothing was said on either blog about Pau’s absence or the back to back OT games. Of course, I’m sure those blogs don’t care what I think, so I’ll just take the two wins and be happy.

  191. Can’t be upset with 4-1. I thought Kobe finally got into a groove shooting the ball for the first time this season. Hopefully that gets him to remain being efficient shooting wise this season.

    Our biggest obstacle is obviously our bench. We really miss Lamar coming off the bench giving us that spark. I know there are a lot of you who like Luke Walton, but I’m sorry he’s just not getting it done. Has he made a basket this season yet?

    Lastly, I think Ron Artest is fitting in well. He’s doing what we expected defensively and he’s doing a good job of getting his points where he can while not dominating the ball on the perimeter.

  192. 128, Snoopy, that would be me.