Mo' O(T): Lakers beat Rockets 103-102 in overtime
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It was about as pretty as a Lohan family reunion these days, but when the dust settles, all anyone cares about is the final tally. This one wrapped up at 103-102, the Lakers on top and the Rockets just short. I already summarized some high and low points from the contest during the intro to last night's postgame chat, but here are a few more talking points to aid your mouth's mission:
- The uber-lowest issue development may have come with just seconds remaining to play. While delivering a pretty hard foul, Chuck Hayes wrenched Andrew Bynum's elbow and left the Laker center in very obvious discomfort. It's being listed as a sprain for the time being, with more tests and results to come.
Hopefully, this will emerge one of those injuries that smarts mightily upon impact, but cools down fast with time and treatment. If Drew is forced to miss any games, aside from the obvious issues involving frontcourt depth (As Mike Bresnahan wryly notes, "Anyone ready for Lamar Odom at center?"), this put him even further behind the eight ball for a bigger goal: Increasing his familiarity playing alongside Pau Gasol, who's been cleared to practice and should return reasonably soon.
-Kurt Helin over at Forum Blue and Gold notes how, after five games, the Lakers are "letting opponents grab 32.8% of their missed shots." Last night, it felt like 132.8%, and during the young season's lone loss to Dallas, offensive rebounds surrendered came back to bite the Lakers in a big way. I imagine this failure is caused in part by not having Pau on the floor, but no matter what the cause, it's unacceptable. Rebounding is the most underrated part of playing defense, in my humble estimation.
-Derek Fisher's stat line was pretty lousy, but dude's got one hell of an ability to be in the right place at the right time when that time and place count the most. Doesn't change the fact that his minutes ideally should decrease on the season, but between his game-clinching steal and some outstanding high screen and roll D during the late fourth quarter, he proved why PJ wants him on the floor during crunch time.
-The "Ron Artest-Trevor Ariza, together again for the first time" storyline definitely added some spice to the proceedings. Ron Ron admitted to me that a date against the Red Nation would likely carry some emotion, but both guys still tried to poo poo the game as anything truly remarkable. Clearly, both guys were lying, as tempers flared while often matched against each other. Double T's in effect, although Artest was mostly content to check himself and take whatever physicality Ariza offered up. 37 even helped soothe Bynum's nerves during one of a few occasions where the center lost his composure. During these tense moments, perhaps Artest takes himself to his mellow "Venice Beach" place.
As for TA, he's been fairly impressive since joining the Rockets as a first/second option in training, but last night was a stinker. 5-21 from the field. Several misses badly forced. An abundance of "head down" dribbling. Yeah, he drilled a clutch three to push the game into OT, but all in all, I thought Ariza played like a guy way too focused on burning the Lakers. Instead, he mostly burnt his current employers.
"...Kobe Bryant was so picturesque perfect in this game, and I don't mind telling you that this is just about as good as I've ever seen him. He's, literally, scored nearly twice as much as he did tonight (41 points). He's done brighter, flashier things on bigger stages, with more to lose, with more going on. Doesn't matter. Against Shane Battier, who knows exactly what to do, Kobe did something he's never done against Shane - take it to the post. Take it to the post, to that triple-threat, and drive the Rockets mad. Make them his absolute creature. Just run things. If this is latter-day Kobe Bryant, then latter-day Kobe Bryant will be dominant. Completely and utterly dominant. Jordan-esque, dominant, in a way that Kobe just wasn't even when he was dropping 40 by hitting contested jumpers from21-feet away. Just the perfect game. As I mentioned before - he's faced scarier circumstances. But the game's most dogged competitor put dogged those instincts aside tonight, in favor of a brain that ranks amongst the game's elite. The game's all-time elite..."