Kobe Bryant may get the superstar calls but Goran Dragic commanded the game, the win, and nearly a triple double.
The Lakers came into town and in the first quarter set their season high for points in a single quarter, 40. The Rockets were settling early for long jumpers, lazy close outs on shooters, and a general lull that forced me to question whether or not the Rockets had any interest in winning this game.
Fortunately for us but not our hearts/stress levels the Rockets decided they would pursue a game strategy that didn’t center around getting abused in the paint, giving up uncontested jumpers, and throwing the ball in the general direction of the basket no closer than 18 feet in. This game brought us the luxury of seeing Andrew Bynum ejected, Matt Barnes commit a flagrant foul, and made a case for why Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic should be retained or see an increased role.
After the jump you’ll get the notes I made throughout the game. Houston improves to 25-22, Miami drops the Suns (good for Houston in the standings) and, as of writing this, Utah leads Oklahoma City (bad for Houston in the standings).
Yao Ming is at the game, it’s nice to see him but tough to see him not sporting a Rockets uniform. He’s shooting the breeze with Robert Horry. If only Yao could have gotten a ring here too…
Lakers up early 6-0, Rockets are lackadaisical and careless, Lakers are executing.
Houston is gang boxing out Bynum, probably a smart strategy.
Scola’s 15 footer coming in handy early. It’s automatic for him generally but unfortunately not as often as I would like this season.
Bynum easily manhandles Dalembert, can’t really compete with that kind of size.
Lob pass by Bryant from beyond the arc to Bynum, easy lay up.
Rockets are moving the ball well right now. Down 10-5.
Technical foul on Bynum for crying about the no-call and it stops the Rockets from cashing in on 2 points from a fast break layup.
Scola lost in no-mans-land with a double team, turnover.
No closing out on shooters.
Rockets relying on 3 pointers to stay in the game early and that is not a good idea.
How many beyond the arc ally-oops are the Rockets going to allow? This is kind of ridiculous.
Houston is just trading baskets at this point and Dalembert trades a gorilla dunk.
What a surprise!? Houston begins driving the ball to the hoop and stops settling for jump shots and they get back into the game.
Dragic is showing improvement in the half court, salvages some out of control decisions he makes which can be confused for improvement.
Rockets transition D looks to be "collapse in the paint, forget 3 point shooters"
Pau Gasol is toying with Luis Scola but good ball movement leads to a Dalembert hook shot.
Lakers second effort is impressive and makes me wonder what the hell the Rockets were doing yesterday.
No point in trading for interior defense if you’re not going to bother closing out on shooters anyway.
Sloppy execution… sloppy execution everywhere!
Courtney Fortson's hair is incredible.
Chase Budinger’s shot is falling.
Apparently Chase’s shot falling has inspired other Rockets to begin hoisting up jump shots like they’re not down by 12.
Patrick Patterson’s post moves are rigid, he needs to develop some more fluidity to his moves.
Fortson is playing like a D-Leaguer. He’s going all hustle and all over the floor. He definitely knows what he needs to do to stick. Just as I type that he nets a steal and easy layup.
Rockets have gotten keen to the Lakers game plan of abusing our interior, steals coming up off of passing lane play.
Close outs haunt the Rockets again and Steve Blake nails a 3 to bring the lead back up to double digits, Lakers lead 50-39
Chandler Parsons is doing a good job of letting Kobe know at 6’9" he knows he can bother him. That’s a lot of douche-look piled high.
Rockets finally get good ball movement and execution going, starting to be less dependent on jump shots.
Dragic has some competitive fire going in the last part of the second quarter. He is harassing the hell out of Steve Blake bringing the ball up the court.
Bynum goes shoulder to the plow and just keeps bulldozing in with his shoulder, I didn’t know that was legal in the NBA but then again it is LA Rules.
Rockets have clawed their way back into the game heading in to half time. It’s a thing of beauty to see this team get away from their jump shooting ways but they need to do it earlier if they want to be taken seriously.
Courtney Lee getting out and playing the passing lanes. I think the more he gets time on the floor to start the more he justifies time over Kevin Martin.
Rockets seem to have gotten the proper notice of how to execute on offense and stop giving the Lakers easy looks.
Bynum has way too much strength to legitimately try to body up. Just a bulldozer.
Rockets are getting a little too excited making this a basketball game and it’s showing. They need to temper energy and enthusiasm with the sensible execution that made it 59-62.
Double team starting to get inside Andrew Bynum’s head, Rockets know he has the strength of 2-3 men and you should get that many involved in guarding him.
Flagrant foul on Matt Barnes. He’s still an asshole. What a shock!
Both teams starting to execute pretty sloppily, the Rockets are losing their composure after knotting the game up at 70 but thankfully the Lakers are returning the "Can’t keep executing" favor.
The bailout calls start coming through for the Lakers. Parsons whistled for looking like a douche next to another douche with star power.
Andrew Bynum with his second technical, awarded for letting the referee know all about how much sand he has picked up in his hoo-ha since form tackling Rockets defenders on his way to the ground.
This game is making me regret backing out of the Bogut/Jackson deal and not offering Dalembert/Martin.
Good ball movement leads to a McRoberts block. This is the first time that appears in text.
Lakers stretch the lead back to double digits off a shot from Crazy Pills.
Luis Scola in at center, I’m assuming the Rockets are calling it a night at this point with 10 minutes left to go in the game.
My horrifying stat of the night has nothing to do with the Rockets, Pau Gasol with 3 rebounds and 7:44 left in the game.
Rockets look completely gassed but they are playing a hell of a lot of volleyball that pays off with a Patrick Patterson tip in.
Lakers turn to crack under pressure. Rockets producing, 3’s are falling, Toyota Center has come alive, and the Lakers are chucking up horrible shots to try to silence the crowd. Not working.
Rockets go up by 2 off defensive effort and a transition layup.
Kobe Bryant is looking to put the Lakers on his back and this season that tends to be a recipe for disaster for Los Angeles.
Refs delay the game for 5+ minutes, remove a point from the Rockets, kill momentum, and Kobe Bryant sinks his first shot off the delay.
Game tied 101-101, Kobe Bryant’s shots are falling out of spite.
Dragic responds to Kobe’s shots with a three that will make you forget about Kyle Lowry’s role as "dagger captain" last year.
Scola with a smart foul on Gasol, the Rockets rebound to Parsons and in desperation he skitters away to pass the ball to Courtney Lee.
Rockets pull this one out, 107-104 in the Toyota Center. I may have continued to lose ground in TCHWRO’s game but hey, a win for the Rockets makes folks happy.
Game Ball Award – Goran Dragic (16 points, 13 assists, 7 Rebounds) AND Courtney Lee (23 points 4 Assists, 5 Rebounds). These two are doing a fantastic job of making you question just who those Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin guys were.
What the Hell Award – Kevin McHale. STOP PLAYING LUIS SCOLA AT CENTER. When games are winnable we acquired Marcus Camby for a reason. I don’t care what your reasoning is for it, I don’t want to know the perverted logic behind the decision. If you want a win at the end of the night, keep him out of the center position.