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Lakers 111, Rockets 98: Wednesday night is alright for fighting

And that's not even including the part about Rockets coach Rick Adelman sending Von Wafer back to the locker room for an early shower.  As Bill Murray said in "Tootsie"... "That is one nutty hospital."

The breakdown is below.

Three Good

  • Considerably better execution on both sides of the ball, as demonstrated by some stats below
    • A 16-22 first quarter.  Yep, that's 73% from the field.  Double check the math.  It ain't a typo.
    • Houston being held to 35% over the second half.
    • Only eleven turnovers, which could have been shaved down to single digits were it not for a poor second quarter.
    • 23 dimes on 43 buckets.  Me like-ee.
    • Eight blocks (a quartet for Pau Gasol alone) and ten steals

    Also, "ball movement" and "energy" don't appear in a box score, but lest anyone be confused, both positives were also on display by the bushel. 

    Coming into this contest, I was willing to risk coming off like a naive homer or optimist by chalking up Game 1's crapfest in large part to rust accumulated during a week-long layoff.  Yes, the Rockets outplayed the Lakers, and that's not even debatable.  But the purple and gold made much of the work easier for Houston through impatience, sloppiness and brick laying I figured would decrease upon their feet being wet again.  Tonight made me feel like I may have been onto something. 
  • Kobe Bryant:  On the heels of a 14-31 effort where 32 points were produced through so much labor that folks may have wondered if I had secretly slipped on #24's jersey and taken his place, the story was all about Shane Battier's wizardry at making the Mamba work.  And hats off to the Dukie, because he really was successful inducing Kobe into some difficult shots from distance. 

    Well, the Kobe Crowd headlines after Game 2 are likely to be chock full of praise over a 40-point outburst where Bryant was clearly the one in control.   From start to finish, Bryant launched quick, decisive shots before Battier could even raise his infamous "face guarding" mitt, utilized screens, and attacked the rack. 7-11 for 15 quick first quarter points, Bryant laid the groundwork for an attack where he rarely appeared to work harder than need be or desired. 

    By and large, I thought Kobe achieved this 16-27 mark by doing himself the massive favor of a disciplined shot selection.  Taking only three attempts from downtown (two falling), Kobe made a point getting himself closer to the basket whenever possible before letting fly.  There was a beautiful sequence where he posted up Wafer, saw Aaron Brooks arrive with the double, then spun off Von for an easy score.  Kobe can work nearly any guard to his favor in the paint, an approach I enjoy considerably more than when he stands in one place pulling multiple pump fakes or spends too long dribbling either along the arc.  Tonight, Bryant didn't allow Battier (and Houston) to dictate the terms of his game plan. 

    Also, kudos for not allowing himself to get caught up in Ron Ron's circus, and, well, egging Artest into "Ringling Brothers" mode.

    Oh, and more kudos for the "pass off the backboard" bucket after blowing past Battier.  That qualifies as "cool" in my book.
  • Pau Gasol:  Another guy who followed up a series opener where little came easy by discovering his inner-Sade (as you know, she enjoyed her a "smooth operator").  From the first quarter jump (5-5, 13 points), El Spaniard was in a zone where the bucket must have felt open like a Sev-Lev, whether connecting from 10-15 feet, flushing alley oop dunks, or tipping in misses.  His 20 points on 9-13 shooting likely could (and would) have been inflated, had his teammates looked more consistently in his direction during the second half. Gasol also enjoyed mucho success taking it directly to Yao Ming, that aggression putting the 7'6" center on his heels in defense.  As a result, Yao spent the entire game in foul trouble and was reduced to a complete non-factor.

    Extra points were also in order for a play where Gasol's secured a loose ball away from Luis Scola through multiple tips, ran the rock across halfcourt and a few more steps, then chucked a bouncer to set up Trevor Ariza for a dunk.  Sequences like that are always fun, but when they're initiated by a seven-footer, we're talking straight up gold.

AK

Three Bad:

The official explanation, provided by both Fisher (see the video below) and Phil Jackson (kudos to the pair for getting their stories straight before the press conference, a true veteran move for both), was believable to a point.  The Lakers had a foul to give (check), and Fisher intended to deliver it (check).  Unfortunately, Fisher misjudged Scola's location on his way up from the lane, (you're losing me), and in the end, he just wasn't as close as Fisher thought he was when the blow was delivered (um.... no).  I do think that Fish was probably a little surprised at how clean the contact was, in the same way that when you're 170 yards from the pin and pull out a seven iron, then just pure crush the ball and it flies the flag by 25 yards before settling on the next tee box.  What are you gonna do?  But that doesn't mean he wasn't trying to deliver a blow.  You could see Fish load up in preparation.  At best, he got caught with a shoulder/elbow in the cookie jar. 

(One more note: If you get a chance to watch PJ's reaction the question about whether Fish would be suspended, it's worth it.  "No," he scoffed loudly, as if the mere suggestion was analogous to asking him if he'd be starting DJ Mbenga at the two on Friday or riding to work on a unicorn.  This before railing on the inconsistencies of how plays like this are called and defending his guy... a sure sign he thinks the league will take action).
  • Phil's Second Quarter Lineup... and LA's second quarter generally: Down by 14 after one, Rick Adelman opened the second frame with a lineup of wee people in Kyle Lowry, Von Wafer, Aaron Brooks, Chuck Hayes, and Carl Landry.  Three guards, lots of quick.  PJ counters with three guards of his own.  So far, so good... except they were Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown (with LO and Andrew Bynum).  I don't need to pull up the figures on 82 Games.com to know those three guys haven't played much together.  Brown and Farmar may not have appeared on the floor at the same time at all.  Going small is fine, but to not include Kobe in a three guard lineup was a horrible decision.  No surprise that those guys struggled on both sides of the ball, scoring four points in three minutes as the lead went down to seven.  Houston would eventually eliminate the lead entirely later in the quarter, playing against the starters (four of them, at least), but the logic of opening the quarter with a group that needs name tags to recognize each other escapes me.  
Moreover, the Rockets gained a lot of confidence with a little lineup that put a ton of pressure on the Lakers.  Landry went to the line 11 times, en route to 16 points.  I like Carl Landry a lot, but he shouldn't score 16 points in a quarter. The Lakers, both starters and reserves, didn't play well in the second twelve, but the rotations didn't do them any favors.  Fortunately, PJ was a little more judicious in the second half, showing a quicker hook for reserves (particularly Vujacic and Bynum) after they picked up unnecessary fouls.  Given how the Rockets killed LA at the line late Monday night, the Lakers couldn't afford to screw around.
  • Andrew Bynum: I'm not trying to pick on the kid, because I think people are starting to understandDrew foul the difficulty of his situation, coming back with only four games left in the regular season after missing 31 games then trying to ramp up to playoff level hoop while also regaining confidence in a badly injured knee.  But at the same time, it's fair to wonder exactly what the Lakers will get out of him the rest of the way.  In 8:39 of burn Wednesday night, he had a rebound, a block, no points, and three personals.  His best moment probably came on his first touch, when Bynum received the ball in the high post and, instead of forcing a shot, fed a cutting Lamar Odom for an easy deuce.  Good patience, nice play.
There were a couple sequences in the second quarter for which he was pilloried on the live blog when the Rockets grabbed offensive boards, but I'm not really pointing to that sort of thing (both times he boxed out one guy, only to see another swoop in), but overall he's just a tick or two behind most plays, especially defensively.  It's understandable, but given how small the margin of error is at this time of year, it's worth asking how much room the Lakers have to let him get his groove back. 

Like a lot of people, I probably expected too much, too fast.  Or am I just being too kind?

BK

QUOTE MACHINE:

Fisher, on the team's toughness:
  "I think we have to be who we are.  We have guys that have particular styles of play, (who) have particular skill sets that are based more so on skill (and) the ability to score the basketball, (and) the ability to move and not just line up and play physical basketball.  At the same time, we're capable of doing a lot of things out there and we intend to win a championship.  Whatever it takes to do that, that's what we're willing to do.  I don't think it was different last year and I don't think it's any different this year.  We got beat by a better team in the Finals last year."

Walton, on how they're sticking together in the face of physical play: "One of the reasons we lost last year in the Finals is that we weren't physical enough.  They were pushing us around and we didn't push back, so we're going to make sure that's not the reason we lose this year.  We're going to make sure that doesn't happen again."

VIDEOS

Derek Fisher provides an explanation for the contact with Luis Scola that led to his ejection.

You tell us if you're buying it.

Kobe Bryant, on Ron Artest's ejection over an altercation with The Mamba.

If Kobe had gotten a vote, Ron Ron wouldn't have been run run.

Luke Walton, on the ejections and Artest

Luke Walton, on the series' physical play

Pau Gasol, on the same topic

Kobe Bryant, on riding the emotions of a game

 
Comments () | Archives (122)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Pig Miller:
"If that foul means that Derek Fisher is a coward, then I want a team of Derek Fishers and I'll watch them win a championship and cheer every single hard foul."

i *applaud* this statement. best damn statement i heard all day on this blog. possibly all season and post-season, heretofor. where's Mamba24 at? i'm sure he'd applaud this, too!


I actually believe Fisher's explanation. How could you make up something like that so fast? He thought he was closer..Usually he takes those hits on screens but since Scola was further way, it made it worse...I believe it.


Another GREAT Youtube clip for UPS!!

http://tinyurl.com/cnq7l6

That's what Brown can do for you!

Totally agree with Fish.

His shoulder isn't magic. Scola should be suspended for being such a whiner, instigating all of the technical, and then running full force into that elbow and then exaggerating with his flopping motion so hard it looked like he had just bounced off Godzilla. If they want to go and rehash and analyze everything that happened, good luck, you'd have to start the Warren commission, just let them play game 3. The refs got caught up in the heat of the game and had to make that call so the game didn't get out of control, so what, see you in Game 3 Fish ;)

Good morning Laker family,

Several things this morning:

Exciting game last night and completely appropriate for what this series will be. A hard-fought series in which the real best team will win.

Here's my opinion on the craziness last night.

Kobe will not get suspended for the elbow simply because it was in the context of a play for the ball and it really didn't appear to be an intentianal elbow to hurt Artest but more of a "get the F off me" kinda elbow. If Rondo and Williams never got suspended for their plays, I'd be damned if they suspend Kobe.

Fisher, on the other hand, might get suspended, I'd say a 70/30 chance that he does simply because it did look like he looked back and prepared for the hit and ultimately, the elbow went up too high. As for Scola...dude looked like a total whimp laying on that floor after a hit from a guy about a foot shorter.

Finally, I have a serious issue with Artest playing the victim game here. This guy is notorious for cheap shots and confrontations and all of a sudden he's so shocked that he'd be on the receiving end of such a play.

AK/BK:

A very important question:

Does Kobe get an assist for passing the ball to himself against the glass? I think he should. 1 basket + 1 assist.

Allen,

If you want to come onto the blog and talk anti-Lakers smack, that's fair game, but you need to watch your language. There are standards in place from the L.A. Times and comments go through a screening. Rule of thumb: If you can't say it on prime time TV, you can't say it on the blog.

Also, keep the interaction with Laker fans civil as possible. You can insult the Lakers as a team without insulting their fans on a personal level.

Thanks

AK

>>>"He hit Kobe with an elbow above the neck on that >>>play BEFORE Kobe responded with a much deserved >>>elbow to the chest!

>>>I blame the league and its referees."

Dude, Artest got the foul and that's all. All the talk about elbows and suspensions is just speculation from the sportcasters and bloggers.

Go Lakers!!!

New Post, update on the Fish and Kobe situations.

BK

Okay, I'm seeing a different angle of the play on the ESPN SC Highlight of the night video. Here's a link:

http://tinyurl.com/dzw7z7

It counts time down, so it's a little confusing, but the Artest-Kobe
incident is from about 1:16 to 1:13. Watch it.

First of all, Artest is repeatedly shoving Kobe in the head and
neck with his hands, elbows, and forearms. If an elbow to the
head or neck is a mandatory suspension, then Artest should
clearly be suspended. And what's more, it looks like Kobe's
elbow didn't hit Artest in the chest at all, it hits him in the chest!!!

Ironically, if you pose it right at the moment when Kobe's elbow
would have been in contact with Artest, there's a flash going off
from a fan in the third row. I'd really like to see that picture.

I don't think Kobe hit Artest in the throat at all. I think it's an
acting job to try and get Kobe suspended for a game because
he knows his team can't win 3 more games with Kobe playing.

Now while you're at it, go along to the replay of the Kobe up
and under off the backboard shot. He clearly gets an elbow
to the head from Yao Ming.

And Lamar got elbowed to the head by Scola as well.

So the real suspensions for elbows to the head from this game
should go to Ron Artest, Yao Ming, and Luis Scola.

Seriously. Go look at the video. Of course, the Houston trolls
will say that Artest and Yao laying wood to Kobe's head is just
good hard aggressive play.

It's ironic that not one of the elbow to the head contact by Houston
on the Lakers is mentioned at all. The only reason the Kobe
elbow is getting any press is because Artest got all melodramatic
about it.

Fisher, OTOH, will probably get suspended for his shot.

But I've got to say I enjoy watching Fish knock Scola out of
his shoes. over and over and over.

The Lakers will take control of the series in game 3 and put all the talking heads in the media to bed..... He will again get 40+ on 50% shooting leaving the Rocket "KOBE STOPPERS" in the Reuben Patterson rehab clinic for the summer.......Andrew's problem is all mental but that happens when you play less than 9 mins in crucial playoff games......
Unlike many of you, I don't credit this move to Phil's genius but to Phil's stubbornness.......Instead of yanking Bynum after every mistake he should shorten the mins. of that awful second unit giving up the leads every game.......Putting Andrew with these guys most certainly made his psychological problem worse!!.........When Bynum takes 10+ shots he produces double figures......NOW IS THE TIME TO GET HIM ON TRACK........IMO he is another guy along with Kobe who will respond well to physical play.......If Drew played 30+ mins, got 12+ shots (3 from offensive rebounding), we would no doubt see the kid produce a 15/8/2 game.......No offense but WHY IS JOSH POWELL taking the mins that should be used to get Andrew back on course.......While Josh is a solid role player and seems to be a good kid he is not someone who the opposing team has to prepare for .......A CONFIDENT ANDREW BYNUM CAN BE THAT GUY!! I haven't forgotten how well Drew was playing in January and even if he is just 75-80% of the monster we saw earlier this year it will be enough help this ball club hoist up that illusive Championship Trophy THIS SEASON!!...........

Phil should also finish games with Kobe/ Pau/ Bynum/LO on the floor.......When someone as young/inexperienced as Andrew is struggling with confidence.......YOU ADDRESS IT IMMEDIATELY instead of hoping he will figure it out.........He may stumble through the first few mins but once he see's a couple of buckets go down ....he will begin to be a factor the Lake Show........Physical Bigs bother PAU/LO ....these guys are finesse players!! Toughness is not just about elbows, stare downs, & great sound bites.......A physical presence is needed in Laker Land.....to rebound, take good hard/clean fouls, and clog up the middle........Denver has shown the ability to bother Finesse Bigs ........LO has already shown inconsistency from the first round to now.......his free throw shooting is an atrocity for someone as talented as he is and he has been thoroughly outplayed by Ron Ron.......

NEWS FLASH: WE HAVE A 7 FT 285 LBS CENTER WITH A POWER FINESSE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He only lacks opportunity/ confidence.......Hopefully Phil will make a conscious effort to get Andrew involved early and often in game 3 so that we can see the Laker ballclub we all anticipated at the begining of this years Championship Run....GO LAKERS


Lakers 2009 NBA CHAMPS


PL

In my opinion, Andrew Bynum is just not ready to go.

First, his timing is way off. After that timeout when Phil drew up the patented Farmar/Bynum alley-oop, Bynum completely mistimed his jump and missed a chipshot.

Second, he's not playing strong at all. As a result, he's getting tickytack foul calls.

Third, his attitude about playing the game isn't right. He's always down to score some points. But when it comes down to playing defense and rebounding the ball, the enthusiasm isn't there.

From what I see, Yao Ming owns Bynum at both ends of the court. Bynum is still a young kid and deserves more time to develop. He's just not ready for tough playoff basketball yet. He is not the missing link to a championship as we all had hoped he would be. Right now, he's a guy who demands the ball on offense and isn't fitting in with what this team is trying to accomplish. At this point, it would be better to leave him on the bench and allow him to practice his way back into the starting lineup.

Actually, it might not take that long considering the way Lamar is shooting.

Go Lakers!

>>>Has anyone explained what Artest did that warrented an ejection?

Double technical. He ran all the way across the court and
got up in Kobe's grill and talked smack to him (technical #1).
If he'd have calmed down when the refs called the first one,
he'd probably have stayed in the game, but he kept arguing
with the refs (tech #2 & ejection).

If there had been no previous confrontations in the game, then
the refs might have given him a little more slack. But with
several previous flare-ups by both teams, the refs were not
giving any slack.

In most games, they wouldn't have called a technical on
Kobe for saying "You can't guard me.". The difference is,
Kobe got T'd up for that, and then shut his trap and kept
playing. If you get a technical foul and you want to keep
playing, rule number one is shut your mouth and calm down.
Artest is incapable of doing that.

>>>The koby elbow thrown at Artest reminded me of Raja
>>>Bell's takedown of koby

Good grief, BUTLER, even you can't be that stoopid.

Raja Bell grabbed Kobe from behind by the neck and threw him
to the ground.

Kobe was being draped all over by Ron Artest, including LOTS
of incidental contact to the neck and head (KOBE's neck and
head BY Artest). Kobe threw an elbow backward at someone
he could not see and hit him in the chest. Not the throat. I have
yet to see any image that clearly shows Kobe's elbow impacting
Artest's throat.

So how does a blind elbow thrown at someone who is fouling
you from behind compare to grabbing someone by the neck
and throwing them to the ground?

Next you're going to compare Fish's body check to Kermit
Washington's punch.

ludicrous.

I disagree with you assessment of Andrew's play.
He did a really good job on Yao in terms of fronting him and blocking him out during rebound situations. He met YAo early and at the top of the key to prevent Yao from getting really good position closer to the hoop for easy basket. These are posititves.
He was active on both sides of the floor. It's just that his activity is not recorded as game stats.

We need to stop looking at this dudes production through a microscope and nit pick on everything. Every game cannot be a 15/15/3 game.

It makes no sense for drew to leave Yao to go for a block shot and have that Rocket player drop the ball off for an easy assist and dunk. Or worse yet, Andrew tries to recover to Yao and ends up picking up another foul and a 3 point play for Yao (or whomever).

I saw Andrew play Yao close so that he would remove him from any equation and I am satisfied with that effort.

Edwin Gueco,

Thanks for the analysis.

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

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

GO LAKERS!

Rocky,
"Bynum is still a young kid"

Yes - with his lack of experience, he does not have an "established game" that he can go back to; in the last two season just when he starts getting to that point he has gotten hurt, so he has to relearn the "basics". On the fly. In the playoffs. I don't know that it is an attitude problem as much as just being overwhelmed on the court; the combination of the significantly increased quality of play, being rusty, not being fully recovered from a serious injury, and playing a team with the best center in the league, who has backups that aren't good matchups for Bynum because of their style of play.

I agree with LongtimeLakerFan and zen that Artest was acting and trying to sell it. He even said he was trying to get a tech. That makes the Stu (where inconsistency happens) look at it and who knows. If Kobe gets suspended ron pulled a fast one. Without the tech there is probably no mention of it in the media.

Since it's not the celtics doing it, there must be a suspendable offense. The same whack jobs calling for Kobe to be suspended are the same ones who saw nothing wrong with 2 blatant acts from rondo. It's a joke...rondo punches miller in the mouth and throws a player into the scorers table..but that's ok right?

OK Faker fans...errrr... I mean Laker fans...I'll give you this - the Lakers did step up the intensity in GM2 however with that being said, can they keep that intensity throughout the series??? I doubt it, basically the "toughness" they showed if you want to call it that is a direct result from being called out by your own media there in LA. Seems to me that the beat writers who cover the Lakers would know better than anyone else the internal fortitude of this team so it begs the question - Why would the media even insinuate that the Lakers are "soft" after GM1 if there was not some shred of truth to it??? It' sad to think that it took being called out to by your own media to get motivated for GM2 - again this so called "toughness" or "gritty play" the Lakers fancy themselves as being is going to be short lived. As far as your superstar - I will give you credit that he probably is the best offensive player in the league behind King James so why does he have to resort to calling out Shane Battier after making every shot??? If you're good you don't have to tell anybody - it is evident in your play, so be a professional and act like you've made some shots before, instead of this bush-league display that warranted a technical last night for taunting. And if you think I get on "your" blog to whine you could not be further from the truth - I am thrilled at where the Rockets are in this series and after last nights result have not changed my prediction that the Rockets will win in 6...True, the Lakers swept the Rockets during the regular season but as we all witnessed in the first two games this is the PLAYOFFS and last I checked the Rockets have the home court advantage.

Playing tough doesn't mean committing flagrant fouls. Any LA gang thug can punch and elbow others around on the basketball court. No, the definition of playing tough is to play aggressively while still following the rules and sportsmanship of the game. Clearly that could not describe the Lakers last night. They started to look more like a gang of muggers than a first class basketball team, and that is truly to their shame. And the fans were just as bad. What kind of a mindless mob would actually want Derek Fisher to elbow Luis Scola in the face, perhaps giving him a career ending injury? How tough are you when you have to cheat to win? Saying the Lakers proved they are tough last night is just a pathetic euphemism that otherwise means they had to commit flagrant fouls in order to win. But it won't work in game 3: those refs will throw Kobe out of the building so fast, it will make your head spin. Its time LA fans realized the new reality they are living in: Kobe is not invincible, the rockets can beat them because of their aggressive D and accurate shooting, and flagrant fouls are just a completely ineffective way that sore losers and spoiled little brats cheat because they somehow think they don't have to work hard to win.

Tye, when did you make your prediction after game 1?

Rockit, while i agree that Fish deserves the suspension, kobe's elbow is a frequent foul that occurs in every game hence he wasn't suspended.

don't make your rockets sound like saints. you don't become good defenders simply by moving your feet. They've been mugging lakers just as much.

One example, how about Battier undercutting kobe on every jumpshot? I like Battier as a player, but that's a dangerous play that should be called as fouls by the rule book.

 
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