Lakers dumped by Rockets: Notes on a funeral
Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration (the Lakers are, after all, 7-3 and the calendar reads Nov. 16), but the morning after LA's 101-91 loss to the Rockets Sunday night at Staples, Lakersville is an unhappy and angst-riddled place, filled with Morrissey albums, tax audits, and clips of the more crushing moments from Old Yeller.
As we noted last night, their shortcomings as a team were plentiful. The Lakers shot only 38% as a team, dragged down by a 5-20 night from Kobe Bryant, 3-13 from Derek Fisher, and another Large Pile O'misfires (also the name of AK's band in high school) from bench players not named Shannon Brown. Then there was the 60-38 rebounding advantage for the Rockets (and before you say, "It's because the Lakers missed so many shots!" note that Houston actually had more misses from the floor than did LA). Or the fact Houston rebounded from an early 16-2 deficit thanks to their customary tenacity and poise. There's more bad news in the box score, for those in the mood for something sad but lacking easy access to a copy of The Ice Storm.
Arguably more upsetting than the final score or 24's shooting line was word that in the first quarter, Kobe re-aggravated a right groin injury originally suffered last weekend against the Hornets. While he says he won't miss time, Kobe acknowledged it was bothering him. "I've felt better," he said. It's certainly reasonable to believe the discomfort played a role in his poor shooting night, because Shane Battier didn't have much to do with it.
In other injury news, Luke Walton missed Sunday night's game with a sore back. Pau Gasol, though, might just be on the road to recovery. Phil Jackson is "hopeful" Gasol will practice this week. We will now pause this regularly scheduled move to "Other Lakers News and NBA Notes" so you may knock on wood...
-Trevor Ariza received a well-earned standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd when awarded his championship ring before Sunday's game, and was moved by the experience. After the game, though, he was rightly proud of his current squad.
-Columnists weigh in on the evening's events: Helene Elliott of the LAT writes that the dragging Lakers are lagging well behind history, while the OC Register's Jeff Miller wonders how much it matters to lose a game in November anyway.
-Yahoo's Johnny Ludden notes the injury bug is playing havoc with LA's early schedule, and they'll need to find more support for 24 (starting perhaps with the tall fella in the middle):
"...So far, these Lakers have gone only as far as Kobe has taken them. On Friday, the Denver Nuggets held Bryant scoreless in the second half as they turned a two-point game into a runaway victory. Against the Rockets, Bryant missed 15 of 20 shots, three of which were blocked. The difference between the Lakers’ wins and losses can be found in Bryant’s productivity: In the three losses, he averaged 19 points on 32 percent shooting; in the seven victories, he averaged 34.9 points and shot 52 percent. Bryant has obvious reasons for his larger-than-expected workload, not the least of which is that Gasol hasn’t carried anything heavier than his sports coat. The Lakers have yet to play a single game with their All-Star forward, who remains sidelined with a sore hamstring. Jackson said Gasol has gone five days without soreness and did some shooting on Sunday, which leaves open the chance he could practice this week. If the Lakers are looking for someone to lean on in the meantime, they’d be wise to introduce themselves to the 7-foot center under their basket. Andrew Bynum missed two games with a shoulder injury, but he’s been back since Thursday, just in case no one has noticed. Considering Bynum has had his past two seasons shortened by knee injuries, his teammates might as well use him while he’s standing..."
-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed gratitude for the support he's received from friends, family, and fans since announcing he was being treated for a chronic form of leukemia.
-Ron Artest dislikes Ariza's shoe.
-Stephen Jackson wanted to play for a winner, which makes his trade to Charlotte a totally natural fit, right?
-The Hornets should learn today how long Chris Paul will be out.
-ESPN.com takes a look at Jeremy Tyler.
-Don Nelson's gig with the Warriors is, says management, secure. And since management won't fire themselves for this sort of idiocy, he's really is likely fine.
-Dwight Howard has a rapidly growing social media empire, and help in making sure it's done right.