Kobe Bryant's triple-double keyed the Lakers' offensive success in an easy win over the Rockets at the Staples Center.
Well, what did you expect?
These Houston Rockets. These Los Angeles Lakers. This wasn't going to be your down-to-the-wire, bloody Battier game. Barring a miracle, this game was going to turn out exactly how it turned out. There's no shame in it, either. These Rockets simply aren't as good as a pissed off Lakers team looking to string together, say, twenty wins in a row.
The Lakers took to the fast pace in the first quarter and ran away from the Rockets from the start, scoring 40 in the frame on 74 percent shooting. The Rockets, meanwhile, scored 29 points, but on 46 percent shooting. The offense looked okay, but outside of the 11-point outburst in the opening minutes, most of it was a byproduct of a Lakers team struggling to settle in on defense after scoring on nearly every single possession. Kobe, Pau and Dwight were just too much. We've seen Dwight take the Rockets down by himself. We've seen Kobe take the Rockets down by himself, too. Teaming the two is just, well, mean.
Kobe nearly notched a triple-double in the first half, and the Lakers worked with pick and roll with Kobe, Dwight AND Pau Gasol (with some good passing from Pau) to keep the Rockets at bay if they ever tried to claw back. These guys will be just fine, I have a feeling.
After the first quarter, the Rockets hung in there, something this team is basically built to do. There are enough versatile slashers and streaky shooters on the roster that the Rockets will rarely get BLOWN out. It just won't happen. This might be one of the bigger deficits we see all season. The youth will work its collective butt off to keep the Rockets alive, and that's what it did for three quarters. From there, the Lakers pulled away.
Oddly enough, there weren't any horrible performances from Houston in this one. It was more so a defensive nightmare for everyone, which can certainly minimize the individual blame. Let's get to the point, however, so here's a look at your studs and duds.
1) Terrence Jones' dunking: Someone turned the meter to DESTROY MODE.
(In all seriousness, Jones looked real good in his first few minutes. He was very active and hit his open shots. Then he bit on a Kobe pump fake - like any rookie would - and hit the bench once again, like any rookie would. He finished with a nice stat line: 8 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in 19 minutes. Well done, Terrence. The more Patrick Patterson gets out-rebounded on the block, the more chances you'll get.)
2) Chandler Parsons
We're seeing Parsons' true potential as an offensive weapon, because my goodness, he's beginning to consistently hit his three-pointers. He can still slash and score, and he can still get out in transition, so permanently adding a three-point shot will do wonders for him. He scored 24 points on 8-10 shooting (4-5 from three) and was the only source of stability we really saw from the Rockets.
3) Three-way tie between Patterson, Harden and Morris: Each had good but not great showings on offense. A few things to note: Patterson's offense has been anything but efficient because he NEVER gets to the free throw line (14 points on 13 shots tonight); Harden's three-point shot is still working its way back (3-7 tonight from deep); and Morris showed a few signs of isolation success, especially on a high-post-to-baseline play late in the game. Good for him.
1) All semblances of defense, because if defense was around, it was not good defense.
2) Jeremy Lin
I get that Jeremy dished 10 assists, but the Laker rotations were fairly lousy in this one - any point guard could have picked up 8 to 9 assists if one made enough passes. Lin is still struggling to find any consistency. Nothing about his game reappears in future games - it's a constant search for Lin, and he has yet to find paydirt on a regular basis. His jump shot remains terrible, and he still hasn't found success in the pick and roll. 10 assists is nice, make no mistake, but the Rockets simply need more from him on offense. And if the Lin critics want to nitpick, don't focus on the turnovers: They aren't that bad. Focus on the shots, or lack thereof in the paint.
3) Carlos Delfino's groin. And Cole Aldrich's defense, specifically.
Tough one for the boys in red. They'll come back tomorrow night against the Utah Jazz, which should make for another tough matchup given the Jazz's stacked frontcourt.
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