Posted by hiphopmama on May 4, 2009
Houston 100, LA Lakers 92
Rockets lead series 1-0
“Upset.” The word works on so many levels, but it’s still not the official word of the game. I’m going with the Josh tactic on this one and summing this game up with a single word: complacency. It wasn’t our ugliest game of the season, but the result was. Once again, we coulda/woulda/shoulda, but it means nothing as we head into game 2 down a game having lost home court advantage. And for the other Josh, anyone who says they’re “not worried” IS a lying little bitch. (And thanks for reading.) The Rockets are for real and look like a serious playoff team. They have all the ingredients even without their main man: a serious low-post threat, hard-nosed team D, and TWO good one-on-one defenders to put on Kobe, who, sore throat or no, could have done more in this one.
The most troubling aspect of the game was how little involved we were able to get Pau over the course of 48 minutes. Phil kept talking about it in his stupid little mid-game interviews, but the result never changed. He kept getting pushed off the block and just looked tired to me. You knew all those extra minutes were going to have to catch up with him sooner or later, but this was a bad time for it to happen. To be honest, his game has been somewhat on the decline since the last few games of the regular season, as his usually astronomical shooting percentages started coming down into mortal territory – like, say, 60% or so. We didn’t really need a lot from him to topple Utah, but that won’t be the case in this series.
Which brings us to Bynum. It’s gotta be said – he needs to be coming off the bench. Not, in this case, because he’s playing poorly – which he kind of is – or because our chemistry was better with Lamar – which it was – but because the little dummy can’t stay out of foul trouble. I think he could be a huge asset in this series – he’s big, physical, and can bang Yao around on the block – so it’s crucial that he not be saddled with early fouls that keep him out of the game in important situations. Especially with Yao playing so well, we’ve got to have somebody in there that he has to work to defend. Otherwise it’s just too easy for him.
And Yao has certainly stepped his game up. I remember feeling bad for him when I’d watch him play because he looked so unsure of himself out there. He looked like he was scared to step on anyone’s toes or go up for a hard rebound. He’s still not the most physical player, but now he’s playing with some aggression and looks completely comfortable in his game, both the outside and inside components. Talk about clutch. Doug Collins kept saying how the script was similar to the four regular season meetings, but tonight Yao and Artest played the Kobe role of clutch shooting to hold onto their team’s lead and edge us out for home court advantage. Big hat-tip to them for that one. Adelman may be a twat, but he instilled some big ones in his boys to convince them they could come into our arena and beat us in a playoff game after getting swept 4-0 in the season series. He earned that number two spot behind Mike Brown for Coach of the Year.
This one hurt, no point denying it, but there are more games to come. PJ has been there enough that I can only figure he’ll have the right tools to get the team back on track and have them ready to even it up on Wednesday. That damn lay-off lasted too long and accounted for some early rust, but that’s not why we lost. The Rockets simply had a superior strategy for defending us that involved forcing our number one into difficult shots – worked for the first half – and forcing our number two out of his game completely – worked for the whole game – and outside of those two players we’re pretty shallow. Save for Lamar Odom, of course, who never seemed to get in the flow either with the physical interior play of Houston. Lesson learned, Tejanos. On to game 2. And Champions League action, to take my mind off that debacle.