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Rockets 100, Lakers 92: Houston, they caused some problems


Well, as Pau Gasol told the media after the game, "Nobody said it would be easy."***

Breakdown below.

Truly, especially if the Lakers continue to play as they did Monday night, losing to the Rockets 100-92.  The traditional breakdown doesn't really work here, because a) there wasn't enough "good" to fill the category, and b) there was far too much "bad" to narrow down to our standard three.  Like the team, I'll need to go back and watch a little tape to see more of what went on.  Both Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant agreed that it would be tough for the Lakers to play much worse in Game 2 on Wednesday than they did tonight, and I tend to agree... to a point.  Big picture, my confidence that the Lakers will win the series hasn't been shaken (though clearly those of you who put down a few bills on Lakers-in-four are SOL), but there's no question a few things are going to have to change before the teams again take the floor in about 48 hours:

To wit...

  • 18 dimes on 39 FGs.  Some of that is simply missed shots.  Especially early.  The Lakers started the game ice cold, unless you think 8-24 over the first 12 minutes is good.  And while they certainly settled for too many jumpers, many of them were open and simply didn't go down.  On the other hand, much can be attributed to Houston's defense and LA's willingness to play into what the Rockets like to do, namely force jumpers and avoid fouls.  Somewhere, Michael Lewis and Rockets GM Daryl Morey are smilingKobe Bryant, until four late free throws and a couple easy don't-foul-him! buckets near the hoop at the end of the game was limited primarily to perimeter J's (on which he was 10-26) and kept off the free throw line.  Nor did he get a lot of help.Kobe Bryant drives against the Rockets in Game 1  The Lakers have to move the ball more, exhibit more patience offensively, and force Houston (and particularly Yao) to make decisions defensively.  Once they do, LA's passing and cutting ability should give them better looks inside.  In those moments where they attacked the rack, the Lakers were pretty effective. 
When they do take jumpers, they should be the clean catch and shoot looks that came in at times in the second half.  Kobe working off screens, whether a handoff from Bynum at the top of the arc or using a nice Pau Gasol rub at the elbow to free up space above the circle.  But pump-pump-jab-shoot is exactly what the Rockets want.  Sometimes they'll go in, but Houston is more than willing to take the gamble.
  • Gasol and Derek Fisher were pretty bad on the offensive end.  Pau's final line (14/13/4) isn't a disaster, but isn't reflective of his struggles.  He missed a ton of open shots, turned the ball over four times, and generally seemed out of sync.  Defensively he had his moments, with three steals and some good plays denying passes inside to Yao and the 13 boars are nice, but Gasol has to provide a second threat offensively and didn't do it.  Fish hit a couple jumpers, but generally spent too much time dribbling into traffic. 
  • As Andy mentioned in the video, you have to figure that even if the Lakers settle for too many jumpers and triples in Game 2, they'll hit from downtown above tonight's 11% clip. 
  • More from the bench.  Aside from Lamar Odom, who had 9/5/3 and did some good work defensively, the Lakers produced three more field goals from the reserves, one each for Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell, and Jordan Farmar (who actually hit a key triple at the end of the half, punctuating the most positive 2:53 of run he's had in a while).   Many of you will mock, but the Rockets are a team against whom Luke Walton comes in handy.  They have big, burly players to defend- he does okay with that- and more importantly, are best attacked by quick and decisive passing.  Hopefully he plays in Game 2, giving Phil Jackson more options.  Walton isn't a savior by any stretch, but it doesn't hurt to have him around.  
  • Personal Fouls.  26 for the Lakers, 14 for the Rockets.  Blame the officials if you want, but overall I felt the discrepancy was more a reflection on what the Lakers weren't doing as a team (moving their feet, attacking the rack) than what the refs weren't giving them. 
  • Rust.  I hope after they sleep on it that the Lakers don't lean too much on it as a reason for the loss. 

Like I said, I don't expect the Lakers to lose this series, but I do think the challenges they face over the next few games are more substantial than what they saw after Game 3 in Utah.  The Rockets are a little like San Antonio lite.  I'm talking about the championship Spurs, by the way, not this year's version.  ThePau Gasol against Yao Ming in Game 1 Lakers are fully capable of beating the Rockets on both ends of the floor, but can't take shortcuts.  I liked when they pushed pace and took open shots in transition, before Houston's defense could set.  But once halfcourt play had been established, I felt the Lakers too often settled for outside-in play.  They didn't make the extra cut, didn't make the extra pass, didn't work hard enough to force Houston's defense to react. 

That's not how they won all those games in the regular season.  Defensively, there were issues (anyone want to seal the baseline?) but overall I thought the Lakers were fine.  Houston's 100 point total was misleading.  If LA is close at the end and not putting the Rockets on the line, Houston finishes much closer to a 90 point figure.  Overall, I felt the rotations were strong, and there were a great deal of trips for the Rockets where they didn't come close to getting a good look. 

Fans won't sleep well tonight, I suspect the team won't either.  I expect an all business afternoon Tuesday in El Segundo, and a much better effort Wednesday night.  The sort of game that could make people start to forget Monday's failures and build momentum before the Lakers head to Texas.

Plenty more to come tomorrow.

BK

***Technically, of course, this isn't entirely true.  If you predicted the Lakers would win in five (as I did), that is, by the standards of the NBA Playoffs, relatively easy. At least as far as wins and losses go. 

VIDEOS:

Pau Gasol:

Phil Jackson, on why the Lakers should only play better in Game 2

Kobe Bryant, on why the Lakers can play better than during Game 1

Kobe Bryant, on what he tells his less experienced teammates about how to bounce back

 
Comments () | Archives (115)

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Hey Mamba, Jon K. and the rest of the regulars. Nice to see you all here. Laker Nation needs the positive fans today. Keep a lookout for the discouraged Lakerholics and lift them up today.

It is Jon K.'s intuitive, not-at-all scientific, but absolutely correct guessimation that an active, energized crowd improves the play of the home team by 10% on average.

This conclusion has come from watching thousands of games over decades.

So, if Laker Nation would have actually been fans last night instead of attendees/spectators, and the Lakers offensive output was increased by 10%, then the final score would have been Lakers 101-Rockets 100.

Let's say that the Lakers defense would have been 10% better (which is more likely true because a vocal crowd actually improves defensive play more than it does offensive play--it ensures effort and focus), then the final score would have been Lakers 92-Rockets 90.

The crowd matters.

Players say the crowd matters.

Coaches talk about the difficulty of playing in certain venues.

REAL LAKERS FANS CARE!

REAL LAKERS FANS DO NOT SIT QUIETLY IN THE DARK!!!!!

REAL LAKERS FANS MAKE NOISE!!!!!

IT MATTERS!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!

MAMBA24,

What kind of loser pays $500 for a seat in Staples for the playoffs and then sits there quietly in the dark?

You'd get better entertainment watching the game at The Shack in Playa del Rey.

At the risk of infuriating Laker Nation with the truth, sometimes some things need to be said:

IF YOU PAY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR A PLAYOFF TICKET AND YOU CHOOSE TO SIT THERE QUIETLY IN THE DARK INSTEAD OF CHEERING YOUR LUNGS OUT THEN YOU ARE A LOSER!

Period.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!

New post. Links, reading, and other things to ruin your workplace productivity.

BK

LAKERHOLIC RIGHT HERE.

Mamba, you damn skippy. Forever Lakers my friend.

Warmup game is over, can't wait til wednesday.

we lost, now we have to get over it.

seriously, does anyone remember last yr when we cruised to the finals and boston was struggling weren't we favored to win. i mean the lakers were young, rested and they made it to the finals "so easy". look who won boston.

guys, relax i think this is a wakeup call for the lakers. also this team is going through hurdles to finish the marathon as kobe says.

all in all, there was effort but they were rusty. remember last yr, western finals the lakers looked rusty till the middle of third quarter b/c they had such a long break. this time, however they couldn't get the "W".

it's okay, kobe was tired and the rest of the lakers lost their stroke.

however, when ppl blame kobe for shooting 31 times you guys forget the rest of his team wasn't shooting. pau was struggling (this has become common for pau- play amazing in reg season play subpar in playoffs). lamar was the only one getting free throws but he wasn't making them. ariza was too scared to shoot. i mean the list goes on. kobe was desperate for some offense since obviously, no one else was getting it done.

i seriously, think we are gonna win. btw, you cannot guarantee artest will have another hot night. also, playing yao this many minutes throughtout the series won't work. yao was amazing last night but did you see he was really tired. imagine by game 3 or 4 he will be worn out.

btw, i think we need farmar. he has speed, who knows maybe he has learned he has to play defense. i just don't understand why phil isn't playing him.

JON K. LISTEN TO THIS VERY CAREFULLY.
After that loss the Lakers will not lose another game the rest of the way.
LET IT BE SAID LET IT BE WRITTEN LET IT BE DONE
NO FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE CAN STOP THE BEGINNINING OF DYNASTY #4

Jon K.

I feel you bro, but Laker fans are like no other. We have expectations; "what do we play for?", etc..

But, ugh! Please don't compare us with Boston fans...thosem mindless D-bags!

Don't blame the fans, blame the week off. Happier days are a comin!

Go Lakers!!!

I'm down with basic homecourt advantage, but does anybody have an issue with the constant music/drum beats while the opponent has the ball. I'm really not that much of a purist, but that seems kinda "semi-pro" a tad. not diggin it.

Go Lakers!!!

I'm a Rocket's fan, and I'm aware that the Lakers have the talent and fire power to win this series.

I'm not trying to oversimplify game No. 1, but I saw a hard-working team beat one that wasn't giving its all. The Rockets are 100-percenters, and the Lakers are going to have to be focused, organized and aggressive to beat them

I don't care what's going on, but Bynum NEEDS to be on the court. If he's not going to be used in the fourth - even when he's showing signs of improvement - let the kid foul out! He needs run! He's the key. If he needs to try and score 30 a night to get his defense and rebounding going, I say LET HIM!

Please Phil, don't screw this up!!!

Unleash the Beast!!!

Go Lakers!!!

Doc Rivers after loss ....

"There was no fatigue - I don’t believe in that,” he said. “We had a whole day off. We ain’t making no excuses. There was no fatigue. We played flat. We played with no energy in the first half. Obviously I’ve got to do something to get them going better. But we’ve got to be better than that to start a game."

Laker fan after loss ...

Don't blame the fans, blame the week off. Happier days are a comin!

Go Lakers!!!

Posted by: lakalova | May 05, 2009 at 11:23 AM

You be the judge!

SCOREBOARD!

Jim Bell,

I thought you hit the nail on the head.

Well said.

LTLL

a win is a win laker fans stop and let your game to the talking it did not show last night not talking bad about the lakers but you cant expect them to win against and underdog team all the time

dd,

We always expect out team to win. Because they're winners.

Expect to hear our game loud and clear on Wednesday, because this crap game isn't going to repeat itself.

Thanks and have a nice day.

LTLL

 
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