Live from Staples: Lakers vs. Rockets
UPDATE: Heard from Drew before the game. Sort of. The kid mumbles, and was short on pith, so we'll have to review the recording to get super-exacts. But I can report that he's feeling no pain right now, including with lateral movement and the like. Still no return date, but everything seems hunky dory.
Assuming they haven't forgotten how to find the arena, the Lakers ought to get a boost playing in front of their home crowd for what feels like the first time since Eisenhower left office. They'll need it, because the Rockets are a good team playing with motivation in a tightly bunched Western Conference playoff ladder. The last time they met, March 11th in Houston, the Lakers used a strong second half to overcome a nine point deficit at the break, led by Kobe Bryant's scoring/invasion of Ron Artest's gray matter.
Looking over the ol' DVR recording, a few things stuck out about those final 24 minutes:
- The Lakers were extremely aggressive on the offensive boards. The Rockets may be undersized, but they rebound well. The Lakers need to make Houston work to secure boards on their end.
- Artest is talented, but will take shots that make Kobe seem conservative and judicious by comparison. High Volume Ron is a good Ron or LA. The more time Artest spends dribbling and creating, the better off the Lakers will be.
- The Lakers did a great job pressuring Yao on the block with double teams to force the ball from his hands. Yao averages over 13 shots a night. That game he had only nine. Generally speaking, the Lakers were effective in making the Rockets shoot jumpers to try and beat them.
Keep in mind that in Houston, LO was serving a one-game suspension for leaving the bench in Portland. With Odom back, the dynamic defensively for Houston changes. Probably more Battier on 24 than Ron Ron. More reading: Forum Blue and Gold's game preview, likewise from The Dream Shake.
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