Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

Darius Soriano —  April 17, 2013

Records: Lakers 44-37 (8th in the West), Rockets 45-36 (7th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.7 (8th in the NBA), Rockets 106.9 (6th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.7 (T 18th in the NBA), Rockets 103.6 (T 16th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Rockets: Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith, Omer Asik
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out for the season), Steve Nash (out), Jordan Hill (out); Rockets: none

Rockets Blogs: Red 94 is a very good site dedicated to covering this team. Check them out.

Talking Points: This is it. The Lakers’ season has come down to a single game. Win, and they’re into the playoffs — and at the 7th seed. Lose, and, well, let’s not even discuss that. This is the Lakers’ chance to achieve what they’ve seeking for what seems like months. They want into the playoffs and this game is their boarding pass. They simply must grab it.

However, the Rockets offer all sorts of problems for the Lakers’ team. First, they’re fast and athletic. They play the league’s quickest pace and thrive on creating a tempo that teams who aren’t used to playing that way have trouble managing. Second, they’re a high volume three point shooting team that loves to create shots out of dribble penetration. Third, they’re one of the most explosive offensive teams in the league. Considering the Lakers have issues with defending in transition and against dribble penetration, the Rockets offer a pretty good foil.

For the Lakers to win this game, then, the goal is to slow the tempo of the game down and focus on the things the Rockets don’t do well. Like the Lakers, Houston struggles to defend. And, in trading away two-thirds of their power forward rotation away at the trade deadline, one of their bigger weaknesses comes inside. Yes, they have defensive stalwart Omer Asik manning the middle. He’s an ox inside and is very good at pushing defenders off their spot and using a combination of angles, smarts, and strength to limit their effectiveness. That said, he’s only one guy. After him the Rockets will rely on a combination of Craig Smith, Cole Aldrich, Terrence Jones and Dontas Motiejunas inside. Not to discredit those guys, but they’re not as good on defense as Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are on offense. The plan should be to attack inside and make the Rockets defend  inside.

Straight post ups will do fine, but some creativity will be needed as well. Big to big actions both in the form of high-lows and block to block exchanges are both good strategies. Get Pau and Dwight on the move into the post and let them attack against a defender that isn’t fully set. That will force perimeter defenders to help down and should open up shots for the Lakers’ wing players. Shots that will need to be knocked down.

This is where Blake, Meeks, Ron, Clark, and Jamison will be needed. All are capable of hitting the long ball and will need to keep the defense honest by doing so. Ron, Clark, and Jamison will also be needed in slipping into the cracks of the defense via cuts and dives to work the interior when Dwight and Pau post up. The Rockets’ defenders will be extra attentive to what happens on the block and that’s when smart cuts will be needed to take advantage. If the Lakers’ forwards can get some easy baskets inside to complement what their big men are doing, the Lakers can further control the tempo and keep the game at a reasonable pace. Also look for Blake to try and create out of the P&R, if not just shots for himself, but for his teammates by getting deep into the paint and drawing enough attention that opportunities are created for others.

As mentioned above, slowing the Rockets will be difficult and even if the Lakers are good at keeping them out of the open court (which is by no means easy), they’ll still need to defend well in the half court to have any chance of winning this game. Against the Spurs the Lakers did a much better job of being disciplined in the half court, making sharp rotations and funneling penetration to their big men. Against the Rockets that same effort will be needed as they are primarily a P&R and drive and kick team  that relies on over helping and then attacking of sloppy closeouts. This is especially true of Harden and Lin who are not just crafty with the ball but very good finishers from all over the floor.

Keeping those two out of the paint isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it will be nearly impossible. So, what I’d prefer to see is for their defenders to simply keep them to one side and shade them into help. Harden is going to get left, but the goal should be to keep him left and not let him Euro-step his way across the defender’s body where he can create contact and still finish. Slide with him on his hip and force him to finish over the top of the contest from the helping big. If he gets fully by his man, the defense is toast. The same is true of Lin, only he’s going to go to his right hand rather than his left. Once the ball is penetrated the other big man must be in position to help on the glass and to challenge any shot that comes should the ball handler dump the ball off. If the Lakers’ help is sharp, they can limit the damage. If it’s not, well…it will be a long night.

The goal tonight is to win regardless of what any of the other teams are doing around the league. The Jazz face the Grizzlies in Memphis and should the home team win, the Lakers are into the post season no matter what happens at Staples Center. That said, a win tonight represents a move up from eighth into seventh and a date with the Spurs. No disrespect meant to them, but facing them rather than the Thunder is the best case scenario for the Lakers. Not because the Spurs aren’t a great team, but because the Thunder are the best team in the bracket. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Tonight is about one thing only — beating the Rockets. Do that and everything else takes care of itself. It won’t be easy, but what in this season has been? This is the last battle of the regular season, the Lakers need all hands on deck to grind it out for one more game.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet and ESPN. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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209 responses to Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. Down to one game. Will be watching in the morning from Indonesia.
    Go Lakers!

  2. “All right guys, listen, they don’t think we can do it! It’s 300 of us against all the Persians. We got to come out tonight, we got to look death in the eyes and say, ‘We don’t care if we die, we go hard.’. Kobe (Bryant is) watching us at home. Dr. (Jerry) Buss is watching us on high. Let’s put it out tonight, everything we got! Everything! Leave it on the floor. Pau (Gasol), put your big-boy pants on. Dwight, hit your free throws! Jodie (Meeks), hit those 3s, boy. Now, let’s get it. Bring it in! Yeah! Hoo-rah!” – Dwight Howard

  3. go Grizzlies!

  4. Come on, we know what this is going to come down to…Dwight hitting his free throws. I’m expecting Dwight to get at the very least 20 FTA’s vs the Rockets tonight. If he’s hitting, Lakers finish in 7th and draw the Spurs. If he’s missing or gets into foul trouble, they head to OKC…or worst start their summer vacation.

    I see D-12 coming thru. Big game from Gasol also. They are on their way to San Antonio.

  5. yeah, too true… gonna see way too much of the hack-a-dwight I’m afraid.
    I hope the league revisits this in the off season, it really sucks the life out of a game.

    no doubt biggest game of the year, go Lakers

  6. Off topic but of interest. According to the following link, Phil Jackson is itching for a NBA job.

    I remember Phil taking over for Doug Collins when he failed to win the big one in Chicago with MJ & Pippen in the ’90’s. I also remember him taking over for Del Harris when he feel short w/ Shaq & Kobe.

    It doesn’t take too much imagination to see Phil taking over for Vinny D, thus improving the Clippers chances of re-signing CP3 and with B Griff replace the Thunder as the Best of the West. And he still gets to work close to Jeannie, lol.

  7. With Houston’s porous defense, offense shouldn’t be an issue for us. Their motto, all season long, has simply been to outscore their opponents. As Darius correctly stated, it’ll definitely come down to how our guards can keep their man in front of them. We can’t afford to have them getting to the hole and, particularly, drawing fouls on Dwight. If this happens (Dwight being hindered by foul trouble), bye-bye 7th seed and that match-up against Mr. Tim Duncan & Crew. Meeks will probably get the 1st crack @ Harden, but I expect to see Ron-Ron, E-Clark and even D-Mo get their opportunities @ slowing down The Beard. Also need to watch Parsons, whose jumper is wet and who also has the athleticism to get to the rack and finish.

    Our building. Coming off of 2 days of rest and preparation. So much @ stake. I expect this board to be on fire tonight and I also expect us to be on a flight this weekend. Destination … The State of Texas.

  8. This should be a fantastic game with a playoff atmosphere. I’m a Rocket fan who has come on this site occasionally and always enjoyed the conversation. A big key for the Rockets will be how close Chandler Parsons is to 100 percent. He creates quite a few matchup problems for most teams and is a more important piece than Lin. Good luck tonight, but I can’t pull for you because there is no way that I want any of OKC.

  9. Win or go home bottom line, about Dwight fts in this game asking him to make 20 is like asking for gold at the end of the rainbow i take 50% from him everything more is a bonus. The main thing is going to be containing the beard and lin, thats the bottom line they need to put Clark, MWP, Meeks, Ebanks and Morris on them diring long stretches because i dont see Blake and Meeks stopping them, thats the matchup thays going to decide if we win or lose this game. Im so anxious, cant wait for the game to start.

  10. This is going to be a 7th game atmosphere because i know Hou dont want anything to do with OKC either.

  11. Last game of the regular season, I still believe in you Dwight.

    This day might be emotional. win or lose.

    One more!!!

  12. I think that I tend to agree with BigCity on this. Houston is going to HackaDwight. We’re going to get to see what DH12 is made of tonight guys. This is the game where he either comes up big and begins writing “His” story here in L.A. This is where he becomes the franchise player. Is he up to it? I claim that he is….34/18/5. That’s his line tonight.

    Let’s go Lakeshow!

  13. BigCitySid,
    I simply can’t see Phil simply taking another coaching job. He was really burnt out at the end of his last stint with the Lakers. The Clips might be a good place to land – except for Donald Sterling. Can you think of any coaches who would like to work for him? Has he completely paid any coach without that coach taking him to court? I don’t think so!

    With Phil he would have to pay him a chunk up front – don’t see him doing this – and give him more duties than simply coaching – don’t see him doing this for more cash than he would have to pay for a coach. If you think Phil would take the job of General Manager, just think Elgin Baylor and you get the picture. I’m sure Phil would just love to have a position where he was a figurehead – it would do wonders for his legacy.

    Too bad the perfect club, in the perfect place, is run by Donald Sterling.

  14. go grizzlies! go lakers!

  15. Dear Kobe:

    Hope you’re staying off your feet and giving your body full recuperative time. Thank you, for sacrificing your body to put the Lakers in position to even fight for a playoff spot. Without your drive, will and the “Kobe system” the Lakers would have been out of the playoffs 20 games ago.

    For Kobe’s sacrifice…go Lakers!!!

    Still bummed, Out.

  16. Well, at least MEM is winning at half—but I think I would rather walk on a living-room floor strewn with legos than watch the second half. “Aesthetically pleasing” is not how one would describe this game.

    I know. I just admitted scoreboard watching again. The first step is admitting you have a problem.

  17. Did I really just hear Mike Daaaa say he was putting Meeks on Harden? Is he out of his mind? Out of control Meeks who has had every guy he plays go to the bucket at ease!

    He must be stopped. Put Metta, Clark or Morris. This guy will blow up the season and his job. Call hum up Kobe and explain the game to hum!

  18. darius: this is a bit early but we all need to get in the right mood before tonite’s tipoff.

    Go Lakers

  19. Houston’s D is actually pretty solid in half court, they just can’t defend the transition well. and their biggest defensive hole outside of their inexperience PF is basically James Harden, though the Lakers probably can’t take too much advantage of that with their current set of players.

    I guess the key to this game would Gasol vs the Rockets PF, he needs to destroy them. though the thing is those young PF are not exactly without talent, sometimes one of them show up with great games. in that happens the Lakers are screwed. The best of of Greg Smith’s season came against the Lakers, 21 pts and 9 board 2 block and just 1 TOV. (granted Gasol was out for that game.)

  20. It is nearly time to stick a fork in the Jazz. Unbelievable D by the Grizz in the second half. Especially without Gasol for most of it.

    Ken–Stopping Harden is impossible. Slowing him down will be a group project at best. I would rather see Captain Pringles save the better defenders for Parsons and Lin–guys who can swing the outcome in HOU’s favor if they score above their averages.

  21. WoW, Grizz suffocating D. Al Jeff can’t even touch a basketball.

    See you next year Jazz..

  22. Mindcrime – Agreed on slowing Harden as a team rather than stopping him. It’s those other guys who could kill us if they get hot. Harden will get numbers (and probably a lot of FTAs), but we need to hold the rest down.

    Defensive execution is my biggest concern for this game.

  23. All that Jazz.

    I hope we still take care of business on our end though.

  24. Guess Gasol is doing everything he can to get back at Lakers for trading him.

    No brotherly love with that garbage game he played.

  25. AusPhil–I agree “D” will win or lose this game. I think the points will come for LA.

    Meanwhile, I should have shut my stupid pie-hole, because MEM is going through another one of their patented dry spells. The ceiliing for the Grizz isn’t very high. They have trouble putting teams away because they go into extended “funks.”

  26. These guys are blowing this thing. Make a darn shot.

  27. Memphis will close this out.

    Now just win and get 7th.

  28. I love Randolph! Big Z for Mayor!!

  29. Big Z for Pau’s brother!:)

  30. Lakers in the playoffs, time to get the 7th seed and the Spurs.

  31. wow, Lakers are now in.
    so we are now playing for positioning, get us the W Lakers, continue our winning streak. 🙂

  32. Well were in, now go and take that 7th!!!

  33. Warren Wee Lim April 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    We’re headed to the playoffs after all.

  34. darius: utah jazz officially out. we now know this so tonite’s effort will go a long way to determine how serious and determined our lakers will be throughout the playoffs. naysayers are still saying nay. i say nay to the naysayers.

    Let’s get it on.

    Go Lakers

  35. All in all, to make the playoffs in the west with a roster plagued by injuries and coaching changes does say something about our roster.

  36. What happened to all those so- called ” experts” that were saying that the Lakers would miss the playoffs and it was January.SMH

  37. Barkley, Dennis Scott, Barry and all those BS analyst said Lakers were not going to the playoffs.

    They are all sucking their balls right now. LOL

  38. Funny thought

    Big bad lob city could lose to Griz!

    If Lakers win they could beat Spurs!

    Is that a dream come true?

  39. What further turns does the roller-coaster take now?

  40. I can’t wait for this game to start—partially because I’m anxious to see how bad the team “wants it” after finding out they are already “in”–partially because I’ve reached my limit on Bill Simmons tonight. In print–he is usually pretty bright and pretty funny–even if he is a shameless Evil Shamrock homer and Kobe/Laker-hater (I give him a break on that because he is at least honest enough to admit it) On TV he is annoying as hell.

  41. nice redemption for all the guys for getting a playoff spot after all those injuries and changes, and all the pressure and scorn they faced pretty much this whole season. Very glad for everybody, Kobe, Pau, Nash, Blake, Dwight, Metta and the bench guys, who all battled pretty hard, and pretty much all fought through very tough injuries to at least get a playoff spot. It will be nice for them to have at least one game, where their playoff lives are not on the line, which has been the case pretty much since late November.

    Of course, no jinxing… want them to get this one, but its will be interesting to see if they can play a little looser and with even more intensity knowing they can just let it rip and go after #7.

  42. NBA says Lakers will open the playoffs Sunday, regardless of OKC or SA as opponent.

  43. David H,

    Hopefully your dog has been well fed today and sometime during the game, scratches that door to alert you to the fact that it needs to use the bathroom.

  44. mindcrime,

    Right on the money with regards to Simmons. Add Wilbon to the annoying list for me.

  45. Hey mike. Get Meeks off Harden. Daaaaaaaaa

    So clueless.

  46. The problem with the Meeks metta Blake line up is lack of player movement. They can’t create their own shot and don’t move without the ball. That’s allowing Houston to load up on Dwight

  47. Ken,
    I’ll do you one better. Get Meeks off the team! How a shooting guard in the NBA, a 3-pt. specialist nonetheless, ever ever ever misses a WIDE open 3 is beyond me.

  48. Are my eyes deceiving me or did D’Antoni insert a defensive player in lieu of Meeks!?

  49. Morris comes in and harden can’t score.

  50. Ha Darius Morris had his mind so set on driving and kicking that he didn’t even realize he was completely open on his way to the basket. Hilarious.

  51. JVG ” Tell me thats not Kobe Bryant’s dog” LMAO

  52. I said, we need to somehow contain Harden

  53. I see Harden scoring the same against Morris

  54. Morris and Glock in at the same freakin time?? Way to throw in the towel, MDA. Geez.

  55. He is playing his D league lineup? Guys that never played all year.

    That the heck?

  56. Half of the Lakers FGA are from the 3 (28 FGA, 14 FGA from the 3).

  57. best stat so far…Dwight has zero fouls..Also, I guess we can all see a bit of the yin/yang of a longer roster and losing the offensive players. Lakers shot 28.6%

  58. I would fire MD off the last 5 minutes. This guy is just an idiot. Tanking the game?

  59. People whine when MDA dont play enough players,then whine when he plays a longer rotation for the love of Jebus what is going to be? This are not the most ideal circunstances for any coach. People dont realize this is an injury depleted team cut the guy some slack.

  60. howard might have to play 40 minutes. Lakers are playing 2 d league players right now.

  61. A Great Wall sighting! I was curious if you’d show up today. I liked your level-headed posts from a few years back. Good luck to your Rockets… playing OKC in the first round, hopefully.

  62. Live or die by the 3 tonight? That may not be the best choice.

  63. Pretty bad time for Pau to go into a slump 4 for his last 23. It’s much more difficult when there’s not 2 feet of space in the high post when getting the ball.

    They’ve been given an option to play the Spurs or Thunder they don’t seem to care now that they’ve made the playoffs.

  64. why no duhon. He’s the only one with actual nba experience

  65. Mda always plays offense over defense. Hence glock over ebanks.

  66. pau is so odom like…i cant believe that last put back…gasol fails to box out every single time no excuses thats soft

  67. The defense we saw against SA has left the building.

  68. Had this coach been playing Darius 4-8 minutes a game all along, he might have gained enough playing experience to know that he was open when he drove beneath the basket. Morris gets 8 minutes in one of the most important games of the season, yet he couldn’t get 2 minutes against Phoenix, Toronto, Washington or Charlotte.

    This coach should continue to play Jodie Meeks the player he went with all season long; continue playing him whether he makes or misses. Why stop now?

    The announcers are even saying this has been a curious rotation.

    The Lakers need more energy than they are playing with at this point to get that 7th seed.

    Clamp down on that defense and secure every rebound.

  69. Finally…Pau!

  70. Oh Meeks…

  71. i could do what meeks does…wow

  72. Meeks is the worst finisher on the break i have ever seen.

  73. Meeks is just worthless. Zero basketball IQ. Nice signing Mitch,

  74. How is Meeks even in the league? Smh

  75. Why aren’t we running horns? This is where we really miss a playmaker. Hang in there Lakeshow…Harden has to cool off eventually.

  76. metta always shows up for big games…jodie wide right from 3 all backboard…what good is he out there? bad defense horrible offense no “intangibles” rather see duhon shooting his 30 footers

  77. Have to believe Lakers will improve their shooting percentage. At least, I hope so.

  78. The Lakers are somehow shooting 33% against a terrible defensive team. This is excruciating.

  79. Lakers miss kobe and nash…the offense is horrible right now. Theres no spacing when you have MWP and meeks bricking 3s so dwight and gasol get doubled every time in the post.

  80. Terrible first half in many ways, yet still only down by six. LA should count themselves as lucky and come out with a little more focus in the second half. As in — do we really need to stay on pace to shoot 38 three point attempts tonight?

  81. metta has best +/-..+6.really missing Kobe and Nash tonight with the offensive issues. but hanging in only down 6…need more from everybody…including Earl Clark.

  82. Gary you nail it, thats the problem, only Blake is stepping up in the backcourt

  83. Good to see that SB is keeping us in the game (smh). Our Bigs are going to have to show up in the 2nd half. Defensively, we’re giving up too many transition baskets.

    “Coach D’Antoni, Kobe on line 1.”

  84. Meeks is worthless. Rather see ebanks out there guarding beard. Thank goodness for Blake or else Lakers would be down 20.

  85. Pau looks confused out there. He looks rushed when he’s in the post. He out thinks himself and starts doing too much. He just needs to mix it up. When he gets the ball 7-8 feet out he needs to face up create space the take what the defense gives him.he doesn’t have to go through everybody like Dwight does and throws himself off balance.

    Dwight needs to get to draw some fouls.

    We need more Jamison because he’s one of the only players that can move without the ball and create a shot for himself.

  86. Mel Counts Counts April 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    D’Antoni won’t play his bench the whole season, and Goudelock gets first quarter minutes? Now I’ve seen it all. I don’t care how many points Dwight gets, he is not a threat in the post. No go-to moves, and he’s shorter than almost every center he plays against. So over rated it’s insane…

    Not exactly a game seven atmosphere, I don’t get it.

  87. Every fast break with Meeks ends in a predictable way…a blown layup. Note to Jodie: It’s legal in basketball to pass the ball to a teammate (preferably one who can finish)

    But hey despite a woeful shooting percentage only down by 6. Time for our bigs to take this game over in the 2nd half.

  88. It’s kinda funny … in the preseason it seems all we heard on this site was how the Lakers absolutely HAD to pick up Meeks … now he’s apparently the worse bum ever to suit up for an NBA game.

    The Lakers have underperformed all season long … why would we expect this to change during game 82, without their maximum leader, and otherwise more than decimated by injury?

  89. Kupchak has always been horrible at picking guards and small forwards. He is too obsessed with big guys because he is a big guy. Only Jerry West could select guards, because he was a guard,

  90. In order for Pau to get loose in the post, Dwight is going to have to step out of bounds or go to the top of the key, and if Pau misses on a shot or turns the ball over he can hustle down the court to direct the defense.

    Steve Blake, is doing a good imitation of Mamba.

    Meeks is not a ‘ready for prime-time player’, yet. Maybe next year after a year of working with Kobe. He and Earl Clark needs to stay in California and work out with Mr. Bryant.

    Come on Duke of Earl, give me something.

    Dwight is just not touching the ball enough on offense. If Kobe would stop hogging the ball, making the ball stick and the offense stop…. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  91. Dantoni is an idiot. The first play of the half is a double screen to free Steve black up for a long two smh

    I guess the second half strategy is to run the offense through metta.

    Dantoni should go big with metta and clark

  92. What a bitch Harden is … so obviously feels entitled to every call, contact or no.

  93. Mismatch

    Might be no more wins this year.

    Oh well.

  94. That’s it pound it to Dwight into the post, its either Pau or Dwight.

    Just pound it Steve and wait for the pass to shoot 3’s.

  95. I guess the Lakers would rather get swept by OKC. Pathetic game so far.

  96. is there something wrong with pau? hes always off balance going up for rebounds one handed hes not worth keeping honsetly 5-10 games a year aint worth it

  97. You can really see how missing enough offensive players really f’s up the whole team and kind of permeates throughout the roster, Dwight and Pau are getting some chemistry, but it helps where they are not the whole load, and are an offset of other things that are going, like some PNR other dribble penetration, mid range stuff..

  98. I bet that’s the first traveling call they’ve called on that bitch Harden all year.

  99. terrible offensive game for the 2nd consecutive time..for those saying kobe should shoot less, this is what you get

  100. Pau is so weak on the inside defensively. Has he altered one shot this game

    * right on queue

  101. Who’s this Darius Morris guy? Did we pick him up recently or something?

  102. 12 minutes, Spurs or Thunder. Who will it be?

  103. We can still win this.

    Last 12 minutes, Lets Go!

  104. Down by 5 pts headed into the 4th. Seems as if Houston should be up by 15. D-Mo showing and proving why he should have been getting some burn all along. Doing a commendable job defensively on The Beard. Let’s pull this out.

  105. It feels like Houston should be up 20…but they aren’t…could there still be some destiny here.

  106. Now the Lakers are turning the ball over.

  107. Only guy on the court shooting under 40% on the season. Jody Meeks. Yet he keeps shooting.

  108. hate to say it guys, but refs trying to give us this one.

  109. Lakers in the bonus, FTs rest of the quarter, make your FTs Lakers.

  110. Tra- couldn’t agree more about the defense D Morriss has been playing on Harden

  111. Why is reeks out there instead if D mo, mwp, or Clark?

  112. Wow. Steve Blake!

  113. Gotta give it to Blake. He has really stepped up in Kobe’s absence. Now let’s see if the others can do the same and finish this game off.

  114. SB for 3 .. Wet

  115. Harvey M, yeah I agree with that.

  116. Steve Blake!!

    The Lakers have Houston in foul trouble they need to put Pau on the block. Go inside.

    Patrick Beverly another guard the Lakers let go that’s getting revenge.


    Come on Pau, you had Harden on you in the post.

  117. +1 Harvey M, disappointing.

  118. After that baloney call on Howard for a screen that Garnett and Perkins set forty-two times a game, are you stil convinced that the refs are throwing the game our way Harvey? HOU got in the penalty early because they made the strategic decision to go small against the Pau/Howard lineup. They paid for it.

  119. Lol Jodie Meeks continues to impress.

  120. Meeks is just terrible, barnes or Meeks?

    Good move Jimmy.

  121. I don’t think Lakers played well to get back in the game the Rockets fell asleep and let them back in. Dwight’s mannerisms at Pau after made baskets aren’t that of a leader. It’s happened all season but it’s happened all night after made baskets. Dwight isn’t have a better game than Pau and only has 13 points 45 minutes into a game.

  122. Is Blake on a contract year? Best bargain so far…

  123. Meeks needs to shoot a few more to better balance the number of shot attempts among the starters

  124. Great hustle and defense by Howard there! He sprinted back on defense and knocked the ball off of Lin. Just great great hustle!

  125. Dwight has been pretty “large” in the last few moments. Made his freebies, met Harden at the rim, caused a Lin error. Pretty darn good.

  126. re the refs, we are getting more calls, no question, but it may not be a total slam dunk. Anyway, its not anything I am controlling so, please, no blaming me!

  127. Why is Meeks out there? Please wake up smart coach. Get Morris in or Harden will go to bucket.

  128. 125 comments so far and about 15 of them are from Ken about Meeks. Please give it up already.

  129. Harvey–I’m not blaming you for the officiating. I just haven’t seen anything tonight that makes me think either team is particularly getting a raw deal.

    Ken–I think Meeks has made up for some of his difficulties tonight. He played good D on Harden on that possession, saved Blake/Pau from a bad exchange at half court, and then made two big freebies.


  130. MEEKS FOR MVP!!!!!!!!!!!!

  131. Meeks 2 FTs gives the Lakers a 3 point lead, need one more defensive stop.

  132. Meeks pulls a mini-Sasha. Thank goodness.

  133. Ashamed Dwight needed it to be his team to play this type of consistent defense.

    Perimeter defense asleep again. Let’s blame Kobe.

  134. Thank you Darius, is Meeks and MDA all the time, enough already.

  135. Oh man. I have indigestion.

  136. Fail. Wow. Just wow.

  137. Damn what a lucky freaking shot, sheesh!!!!!!!

  138. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Parsons for the three….

  139. That was just dumb luck can fault the Lakers hustle just plain ol’ lucked out.

  140. So who dripped the ball and allowed that last shot?

  141. Simply Put, why didn’t we use the foul that we had to give.

  142. Shades of Tim Thomas

  143. omggggggg

  144. Check out these last few no-calls to talk about the refs

  145. Pretty close to the NBA record for combined three-point attempts in a game. They’re at 62, the record is 69:

  146. I’m with u Ken. Reeks is just terrible!! Where’s mwp?? Morris has played way better than Meeks too

  147. our bigs getting mugged
    sorry pau i dont mean what i say lol
    hardens head is a magnet for beastly purple and gold elbows
    pau super soft again watches ball sail by

  148. Yeah, I’m missing Kobe already.

  149. Can we just cut Meeks right now?!?! OMG!!

  150. LOL. I’m laughing so I don’t cry.

  151. Hiw about Meeks now Ken?

  152. Then again, Blake is doing quite an impression of Kobe. Where was this guy last year?

  153. Every Laker starter under 40% shooting and still up by 1?

  154. 14 shots 10 free throws only 14 points. Dominant defensively but can’t count on his offense every night.

  155. Smh at Harden. Flails around on the floor dramatically in “agony”, until he realized it wasn’t helping, then jumps up and sprints back on defense.

  156. meeks can’t even make a wide open 3 pt shot.

  157. Can only hope that Meeks will reboun from his long slump in playoffs…need more from him!

  158. Its funny how things turn out, we got meeks to be our 3 point specialist yet got a guy whos playing really good defensively.

  159. Meeks Dunk!!!! Not a failed drive!!

  160. Ken, I think Jodie just heard you on that dunk!

  161. lazy rebound effort by Gasol there

  162. WOW Meeks Slam Dunk.

  163. Hahaha … oh man, I would kill to see the expression on Ken’s face when Meeks went in for the clutch hammer dunk.

  164. What a jam by Meeks! And Howard block!

  165. Great defense by our two bigs! Surprised they didn’t call that one there. They almost always give Harden that foul.

  166. That play by Howard on Harden to take the ball and throw Harden out of bounds really warmed my heart. James comes in like a freight train all the time… He met a wall this trip!!

  167. I meant Ken from Newport Beach, not KenOak, of course. Plus, my cutie Pau with his third Laker triple-double.

  168. Could have called a foul on Howard there–but that made up for the missed back-court violation call they should have made so–it’s a wash.

    I think Meeks has done a good enough job on Harden on D in the overtime that he gets a break here, doesn’t he folks? If that isn’t enough–how about the dunk?

  169. Dwight shutting Everything down in the Paint.

  170. For those who watch the Big Bang Theory, I find it hilarious how Sheldon and Leonard are both in attendance here, but sitting far apart from each other.

  171. I’m sure this is what Mike Brown envisioned when he wanted to run the offense through Pau and Dwight.

  172. Howard coming up huge on the defensive end, this is the DPOY Howard from Orlando. And Jodie Meeks with the dunk! Didn’t know he could do that.

  173. Have to credit the Lakers bigs with rebounding prowess (if not deft shooting) tonight.

    It shows they want it bad.

  174. I’m proud that Jodie has been a difference maker at the end of regulation and ot. Just as I typed, that, he missed a free throw.

  175. Gasol with a triple double.

  176. That huge clutch dunk was for u Ken, i dont know how you can enjoy a Lakers game if all you do is watch obsesively everything Meeks and MDA do.

  177. We have a foul to give. Again. Let’s not give up another 3 with a foul to give.

  178. Our bigs with MONSTER rebound numbers.

  179. Pau Gasol- 17/20/11/2 Wow. Triple double to get us into the 7th spot.
    DH12- 16/18/4/3 Not quite the offensive numbers that I expected, but he came up huge on defense. Horrible shooting night for pretty much all the starters. Only Jamison and Morris had decent shooting nights, but just an all-around great team victory here!

  180. Van Gundy said earlier that the Lakers didn’t belong in the playoffs, he finally gave the Lakers some props after being all on Houston’s jock most of the night. Bring on the Spurs!!

  181. what a nice win!

  182. Lakers- Spurs, what a great g

  183. San Antonio, Here We Come.

  184. Lakers win the #7 seed will face the Spurs. GO LAKERS.

  185. Pau, the Point Power Forward…

  186. Great win. We may not get out of the first round, but the team is having fun playing and it shows on court. If we hold serve in games 3 and 4, anything can happen – and let’s remember that the Spurs have folded against lower seeds quite a bit the past few years.

  187. Tonight we saw what makes Dwight a superstar. Defense. Dwight made defensive play after defensive play the same way kobe takes over on offense and makes shot after shot.

    The play of the game was a non scoring play. The lakers missed the shot I think but Houston had numbers and Dwight was behind the play but he kicked it into second gear and made it down court and knocked the ball out of bounds off of Lin under the basket. That was pure determination on behalf of Dwight and turned the momentum back in the lakers favor.

    On to San Antonio.

  188. Another gritty win. Impressed that they held one of the best offenses in the league to 95 pts, including OT. With Dwight being the main guy, the team has definitely taken on a more defensive identity.

    On to the playoffs!

  189. Im kind of impressed by the Lakers. They didnt collapse when Kobe went out and somehow they got the 7th seed despite being under .500 for most of the season. And steve blake..that guy stepped his game up. Hes been the difference maker.

  190. Lakers won’t win playoff games shooting 36%. It’s tough to see them beating the Spurs without Kobe. 17 off. rebounds and 34 fta would make it interesting.

  191. darius: you said it earlier and it’s fitting: Tonight is about one thing only — beating the Rockets.

    tra: thought for a moment about doing a dump myself while walking the dog . but like you said, dog scratches door, we go for walk, we come home, lakers win.

    laker nation karma, say nay to the naysayers.

    still a catchy tune:

    Go Lakers

  192. Cant say enough about how huge Steve Blake has really stepped up. What a way to end the season on a high note. GO LAKERS!!!

  193. Jodie Meeks redeemed himself some what tonight. Huge in the end.

  194. i just love that they’re still fighting.

  195. Really tough road ahead goon against SA but it could had been OKC, our chances are a little better thats all i can say, just give em’ hell Lakers!!!!!

  196. MFN’ game, pure epicness.

    We believe, take us to the next level Dwight.

    Lets GO!!!

  197. honestly if Nash is ok, I like our chances, Sorry no jinxing, but this is a much different lakers team than what they were before the ASG and ditto for the Spurs….With Manu very compromised, TP somewhat, and with no Diaw or SJAX, this is a lot less veteran of a team…yes Timmy is still great, but they are really going to need a lot from that amorphous group of role playing 3 point shooters. Meanwhile, we feature Pau and Dwight close to peak form, SB and Jamison still really contributing, MWP coming back, hopefully something from Nash to balance the offence, and additional players such as Earl, Morris, and Meeks who can add spark/energy. Wouldn’t like us against Miami, OKC, or Denver (and maybe the clips), without Kobe, but other than those 4 (and depending on where nash is at, but I have a feeling he is finally ok), think we can compete with anyone else right now. Starting to be very nice chemistry here.

  198. Kevin- for all intents and purposes this was a playoff game.

  199. Kevin, not sure what you want Dwight to be. He has always been a defensive player first. With a scoring big like Gasol the Lakers don’t need Howard to score 30 points every night. They need him to defend the paint and put pressure on the other team’s bigs. As far as him being a leader or not, does it even matter at this point? Is he supposed to smile everytime Gasol wants to give him a pat on the back? I thought he smiled and played around too much.

    Sit back and enjoy the ride. They are not winning the title. But if Nash comes back in good shape they put a scare into some opposing coaches out there. I’m just glad to see the entire team playing with some purpose and desire finally.

  200. DieTryin: against a team with no playoff experience. The Spurs are the seasoned bunch in the west with the best coach. They get up 10 and won’t let up. I’m happy Lakers made the postseason after this year. It could be an interesting series if Dwight and Pau both play like they have the last 2 games every game of the series.

  201. we still went away from giving the ball to pau and letting him facilitate down the stretch, but loved the defense the lakers were playing in the last couple minutes of the game and the OT

  202. We also gave Jazz some consolation. Now they don’t have to beat themselves to death for missing a golden opportunity; win or lose we were going to make the playoffs.

    … at least I hope it consoles them a bit.

  203. Pretty good finish for a team that battled ridiculous injuries and drama all year long, and had to hear every day that they were just about the biggest disappointment in NBA history. Somehow this Laker team played at a 56-win pace the second half of the season.

  204. Because so many on this board hates on him so much, lets listen to what Kobe said about Pau tonight. @kobebryant: “can the talk of trading @paugasol come to a cease now”

    If kobe sees the value of Pau, i think we should too.

  205. Well. It’s a new season. If Nash comes back and is near 75% of his former self, we have a shot against SA but not a large chance, IMO. You’d have to believe that Pau and Dwight would have to play at the same level for 6 or 7 games. I don’t trust the bench but that’s nothing new. This could very easily be a case where LA expended every bit of energy and karma they had just getting in. We shall least they played some D tonight when it counted. I’m happy they are in and going to enjoy it till Sunday. What a perplexing and exasperating year…and its not over yet!

  206. Kevin the spurs are not at full strength they have gimpy guys in slumps while we have guys that are coming out of gimpy slumps it will be a good match up for sure

    i must admit i jumped the gun on pau…he just keeps trucking along making big plays throughout the game…sneaky and efficient games sometimes he does some soft stuff but i do love the big spaniard

  207. fellas i’m hearing Jordan Hill is just about 100 percent. He’s doing running and jumping at ease.