Houston 98, LA Lakers 111
Series tied 1-1
This is the kind of night where I’m not proud to be a Laker fan. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t as bad as the Laker Haters (their official name) will have you believe, nor will it merit David Stern’s sure-to-be-extensive whining, but it wasn’t pretty either. And for as much as we took, we gave even more, acting like instigating little bitches more often than not. This is not how I want us to win a game, let alone a championship.
Here is my take on the extracurricular events:
It all started with Lamar Odom and Luis Scola. I have no fucking clue what sparked that one, but Lamar was talking to him from pretty early on – yapping in his face after blocking his shot and just generally being a punk. At the time, I was confused, because you never really see that from him and Scola seems so unassuming, but when I saw him tugging on Lamar’s jersey later on I figured he must have done something to spark it. Whatever the case, those two got the ball rolling and the everybody else ran with it from there. After a little extra English on a Scola foul on Odom, Lamar had something to say, as did Walton and Vujacic, which resulted in some technical fouls. The next possession, Fisher came out set to take one of those much-ballyhooed “message fouls” on Scola to put him in his place. Unfortunately, he went at him a little too hard and got himself ejected with a flagrant 2. I really think the thing that earned him the ejection was the extended elbow. Or maybe it was the way he tensed himself up in anticipation of the collision after looking over his shoulder to make sure it was Scola coming to set the screen. Either way, Fish was shown the door and it was officially on, if it wasn’t before.
Things actually settled down for the better part of a quarter and a half, until Ron Artest finally hit his breaking point. And Kobe had to go and play the fucking instigator. That really is the perfect word for him. He’s probably my favorite player just based on how much I love to watch him do what he does – for everything else, Dwyane Wade is at the top of my list – but as a person he’s an ass-wipe. Most of the people who are the best at what they do are such unsavory types. Kobe just has a little extra of the punk-ass juice in him, and when he threw a little elbow up at Artest’s throat on a rebound but didn’t get called for a foul (somehow the refs put it on Ron-Ron himself – don’t ask, I have no idea either), Ron disputed the call before crossing the court to confront Kobe. On second look at it, it probably just should have been a technical rather than an ejection, as he got in Kobe’s face and made his point without any real physical aggression, but his reputation probably preceded him in this instance and he was given his marching orders.
The only real action after that was a technical for taunting that Kobe got for telling Battier, for the umpteenth (unnecessary) time, “You can’t guard me.” Kobe looked shocked at the call, as it’s the kind of thing they usually let slide, but in a game like this they had to call it. You can’t really dispute that.
Oh, and the game itself? Even without all the extras it was a good one. We jumped out to a blazing start, got the lead as big as 15, then watched Houston come all the way back and take the lead. It was looking like the same old song and dance as last year’s finals, as we were getting out-toughed by a team that we really should have been beating. Then all the incidents and ejections and we actually managed to respond with the requisite level of grit needed to grind this one out. The subs finally came through, putting on a run with Kobe on the bench to regain the lead they had given up, as the team eventually made the decision to start hustling for loose balls and doing all the little things the Rockets had been doing better than us. The score wasn’t close in the end, but the intensity never wavered, right down to the final buzzer.
There are plenty of questions left after this one. How hard will the hammer come down on all the players on the naughty list after this game? Will Fisher be suspended for game 3? Will Ron-Ron or Kobe be fined, and will Kobe be assessed any kind of foul after the fact for that elbow he obviously threw? How will the repercussions of this play out over the rest of this and any subsequent series? All tough to answer. I’ll wager the following guesses:
- Kobe will get a fine for the elbow, maybe some kind of flagrant 1 assessed. Nothing more is merited, and nothing more will likely be given.
- Artest’s ejection should be plenty of punishment for his actions, especially since it was probably excessive to begin with. I don’t foresee anything extra there.
- Fisher has a good chance of being suspended for the next game. I can’t say for sure which way they’ll go with that one, but I can see that whatever they choose, they’ll be justified. On the Laker side, it was the same kind of foul Deron Williams took on Andrew Bynum in the last series which resulted in just a regular, garden variety foul being called. Plus it’s Derek Fisher, and how often do you see that sort of thing from him? On the side of actual logic, it was premeditated, harsh, and involved an extended elbow. They can interpret that however they want, but a suspension wouldn’t be out of question by any means. All I can say is, come on, Jordan.
- As for the repercussions? That’s difficult to say. I tend to think this melee will galvanize the Lakers and help them on their way, even if it’s just because they’re the more talented team so a little extra motivation will push them to higher heights than Houston. They needed to be reminded that it’s not going to be a cakewalk. Why that reminder was necessary I have no idea. I would have thought last year’s finals would have been enough, but out of sight, out of mind, I guess. This will definitely be a series to watch from now on.
And now, because it’s my blog and I can, I have a word to say about Artest. I like the guy. I can’t explain why, I’ve just always been in his corner. I really felt like that whole incident in Detroit was more the fault of the fans than the players, because spectators at sports events get way out of control. Can you imagine if one of those fat ugly white guys saw Artest walking down the street? Would they really have anything like that to say to him? No, they would cross the street and avert their eyes. But on a basketball court, all of a sudden they’re real brave. They deserved what they got. The league had to do what it did, because that kind of thing can never happen, but it’s still karma for a couple bitch-ass fans. Oh well. Now Artest is back and doing his best to rein in the temper that has gotten him in so much trouble, and I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt as much as any other player. He looked so under control and within his element in game 1 and most of game 2 that I was starting to believe, or maybe hope, that he had finally figured it out. At the same time, though, I was waiting for him to snap, and he finally did, when Kobe threw that elbow up high at him. And to be honest, he deserved to have his say after the refs missed that one, and even to get in Kobe’s face about it a little bit. The thing that did him in was the fact that he crossed the court to do it and stayed with it a little too long. Oh, and the fact that he was Ron Artest. That didn’t help his case any either. I still hope he gets his act together so he can play out the rest of the series, because the way he’s performing he deserves as much shine as he can get. As much as I want us to beat the snot out of him and his team ON THE COURT, I still hope he plays well.
A lot of Laker fans won’t like me for all of what I’ve said, but fuck it, that’s how I feel. I hate giving extra ammunition to all the Haters out there, but in this case most of it is true. Come on, Lakers, let’s win this the right way so we can feel good about our rings if and when they come. This whiny, instigating little posture is unbecoming of so talented a team. And if we can’t win without resorting to that stuff, then we don’t deserve to be wearing the purple and gold.
And here is Fisher’s foul on Scola:
And for anyone who still cares about the actual game, here’s a ridiculous play by Kobe: