Thoughts on 103-102 loss vs Lakers

Bullet Points - The Lazy Man's Friend TM

  • This is the first game I have attended this season, and the first with an eye to writing for TDS.  I tried to watch action away from the ball as much as I could, and also to the view the Lakers as dispassionately as possible.  It made for an interesting night.
  • It's a big night for The House, isn't it?  Lakers win another OT game on the road, the Yankees win the World Series.  I think if you are not from New York or LA and you root for the Yankees or Lakers, respectively, it's like rooting for the house in blackjack.  Or maybe rooting for cancer.
  • Do they even SELL any jersey but the Kobe Bryant one for the Lakers?  There were a fair few supporters of the evil empire at Toyota Center tonight, and every single one I saw had "Bryant" on the back. Except for the seedy-looking guy who had his own name of the back of a #24 jersey.  Well played.  I respect those imaginative Laker fans.  I wonder how many know of any historic Laker players, other than Magic, maybe.
  • Chuck Hayes - Just a splendid game from the Chuck Wagon.  He scored the same number of points as Lamar Odom, and on six fewer shots.  Everyone laughs at our tiny center, but no one has walked over him yet. 
  • Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest had a Freaky Wednesday.  Trevor shot 21 times and made 5 in a truly Artestian performance, meanwhile, Crazy Pills goes 6-14 with only 1 foul - 1 called foul, anyway.  He was, annoyingly, 3-7 from 3pt range.
  • Why were people booing Artest? The Rockets weren't interested in signing him at the money he wanted.  LA was.  He never gave anything less than his best effort here.  Why the hate?
  • IF LA (meaning Kobe) needs overtime to beat us with our lineup, I'm encouraged.  With a bit better shooting, we win this one.  And we need to win games that are there for the taking.  This one was.  This result looks good, in a moral victory sense, but looking deeper, this should have been a Rockets "W" - an actual victory.
  • Aaron Brooks drove and dished too often, mainly to Scola, who was immediately guarded by either Odom or Bynum.  Luis often looked surprised by these passes, and appeared to be trying to position himself for a board off Brooks' shot most of the time.  Put the shot up, Aaron, or find a guy who doesn't have a 7-footer 1 foot from him.  That play would work great if the guy standing there was Yao, but, as they say, Yao isn't walking through that door, Mr. Brooks.
  • Too much dribbling late in the game.  Far too much dribbling.  Not enough movement without the ball.  There was plenty of ball movement in the 1st quarter, and it slowly melted away, until Houston seemed to be running nothing but unlikely-looking ISO plays.  It recalled the heady days of scoring 74 points a night with JVG.  Not getting a shot off in the last 24 seconds of overtime, down 1, that's not acceptable.
  • Along the same lines - no more behind-the-back passes for either Brooks or Lowry until their assist-to-turnover ratio improves.  We gave away either 3-4 possessions on errant behind-the-back passes.  In a one point loss in OT, all that stuff is magnified.
  • Watching the game, and focusing on movement away from the ball, I can tell you this:  LA would be a bad team without Kobe.  Not "barely a playoff team", not an "average team", a bad team.  Its not just forcing the offense through him and him delivering.  Due to what seems to be the lackadaisical character of the rest of the Lakers, they would be exposed on D and rarely find an open look without him.  I wonder how long he can keep this up at 31?  We'll see. 
  • The NBA has apparently instituted a "No D on Kobe" rule this year.  Players are no longer allowed to remain in place, or jump straight up when Kobe is shooting.  That is now a foul.  Watch for lots of FTs at an arena near you!  The NBA: where marketing-oriented-favoritism-happens-all-too-frequently.
  • LA's bench looked horrible.  Jackson couldn't leave them in the game against us.  This was supposed to be a Laker strength.  If Gasol and Bynum can't carry more of the load, I think LA (meaning Kobe) will wear down and be vulnerable.
  • If LA (meaning Kobe) needs 41 points and 48 minutes from Kobe to beat us in OT, on a bad shooting night for us, that is either a very good sign for us, or a very bad sign for them.
  • Could Hakeem don a Rockets jersey? I wish he had tonight.  I think he could push Bynum around, even now.  (I kid. Sort of.) Where did this plague of soft or inept 7 footers come from anyway?  Gasol is a more forceful player than Odom or Bynum.  
  • The "Fan Contests" - Prizes range from a bag of burritos, to a signed ball, to a cell phone, to some Greek food, OR a trip to Shanghai, or Amsterdam, or Rio, or San Francisco.  Please, let me be in the Continental shooting game!
  • Phil Jackson always does something to remind me why I hate him so much.  Tonight he stopped a Rockets inbounds play near the end of the game twice.  Why?  Presumably there was some dangerous object on the floor near LA's bench.  The ref looked around, and didn't see it.  So Phil stopped the inbounds play to get him to look again.  Still no object.  But the Lakers got a good look at Houston's set.  What a pudwack.
  • A Jacksonian sort of respect from Silver Screen and Roll.

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