Blog Entry

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

Posted on: May 5, 2009 11:47 am
 

Are the Lakers in big trouble? Nah, they've been down this road before. They're a confident team with playoff experience, and they know how to win on the road.

But are they capable of losing a seven-game series to the Rockets? Oh, absolutely. Here's how:


1) Who defends Aaron Brooks? It became obvious while watching the second half of Game 1 in a social establishment near TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Monday night that one of my hunches about this series is absolutely true. The Lakers have no one to guard Brooks. He's quick, crafty, steady with the ball, and he looks like he will be able to get into the paint at will in this series. The only guy capable of stopping him is Trevor Ariza, but the Lakers would rather use him to grapple with Houston's wing players. Plus, if Ariza has to play big minutes to slow down Brooks, the Lakers are down a shooter. That may compel Phil Jackson to go with Shannon Brown against Brooks for long stretches, placing even more demands on the Lakers' bench.

2) Kobe Beef. There is an excellent Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Houston called Azuma. One of the specialties there is the Hot Rock Kobe -- slabs or raw, 100 percent Kobe beef delivered to your table with a steaming hot stone. You take the slabs of Kobe and sear them yourself on the hot stone. For symbolism's sake, Ron Artest and Shane Battier should visit Azuma on the day off between Games 3 and 4, just to practice taking turns cooking Kobe. That's a luxury that is unique to the Rockets. They're the only team with two players capable of defending Bryant. If one gets into foul trouble, Rick Adelman hands the chop sticks and hot stone to the other one, and away they go. (Full disclosure: This theory was capably espoused by my friend and colleague, Chris Sheridan from ESPN.com, during numerous radio interviews Monday -- one of which was with a station in L.A. that introduced him as the dumbest man on the planet. Silly boys, they forgot about me.)

3) Luis Scola. He may look awkward at times, but Scola is a very capable post player with diverse skills who affects winning at both ends of the floor as much as any player in the NBA. His diversity of post moves gives the Lakers something else to think about in the paint besides Yao, and he has an uncanny knack for finding loose balls and rebounds. Plus, he's a very underrated defender. Few players are more efficient with their opportunities.

4) Yao. The knee-to-knee contact that crumped Yao to the floor in the fourth quarter could have been a turning point in the series. With
a frontcourt of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers are better equipped than most teams to deal with Yao. But if he stays healthy and out of foul trouble, Yao is going to get his 25 and 10 on a nightly basis in this series despite the Lakers' best efforts to contain him.

5) Bench scoring. Other than Lamar Odom, the Lakers' bench has been inconsistent and much maligned at times this season. L.A.'s reserves outscored Houston's 18-16 in Game 1, and they still lost. For the Lakers to win the series, they will need consistent superiority from their bench.

6) The Artest factor. Not only is Artest equipped with on-board Kobe radar and weird hair, but he's also one of the few players in the NBA who can match Kobe's twisted competitiveness and flair for the dramatic. Yes, Artest will kill some possessions with bad shots, but the Rockets have learned they have to take the good with the bad. Simply put, No. 96 is an assassin. In my mind, only two other players in the league share his flair for the pressure-packed crucible of playoff time: Kobe and Paul Pierce.

So can the Lakers shake off their Game 1 loss, get a game in Houston, and still achieve their destiny of facing Cleveland in the NBA Finals? Sure they can. But they can also lose this series for the reasons outlined above. That's why the center of must-watch drama has shifted from Boston -- where the defending champs are in a fight of their own against the Magic -- to Houston-L.A.

Comments

Since: Feb 28, 2009
Posted on: May 6, 2009 11:53 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

eh, I won't engage in the argument with you Bluesman (East v. West). It's been brow beaten on these boards enough. But Atlanta is not Houston. They lack the discipline to win consitently over top teams. I'd rather play Atlanta. But at this point, any team that's in the conference semi's is capable of winning a game on any night.
My point was only that Cleveland woke up after a 9 day nap. LA should have as well. No excuses at this point. Especially one like that for one of the top 2 teams left, if not the top team.



Since: Mar 27, 2008
Posted on: May 6, 2009 5:58 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

so you're saying atlanta and houston are equal?

???




Since: Sep 3, 2007
Posted on: May 6, 2009 5:23 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

bobthe fa n, just curious at what point does an opponent get credit for the other team playing poorly.  It seems to me that the Lakers are so good that the only team that can beat them in a seven game series is themselves.  I get that some of the fans are saying "not to take anything away from the Rockets" or " the Rockets did play a good game", BUT then they add why the Lakers let them win in the end.  Face it, the Lakers got outplayed by a good team in game 1 at home, which is not a common thing in the playoffs.  Great teams own their home court, and the Lakers failed to do that in the first game. 

Are the Lakers done, certainly not, but they are in for a fight, and saying anything other than they couldnt hold our young gaurd or answer Yao inside is making EXCUSES.  That is what happened Monday night, and we will see if they come out and rectify the situation or if the Rockets create a whole new wave of talking about what the Lakers did wrong instead of what the Rockets did right.

Lakers were outplayed in game 1, and if they dont find some grit inside, memories of being out hustled and facing a tougher team in Boston in 2008 may become reality 2 series sooner than anyone thought. 



Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: May 6, 2009 5:01 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

The Lakers clearly have problems at point guard.  Houston can come at LA with 48 minutes of quick youthful energy from Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry.  There is no way LA can handle them as (1) Derrick Fisher is slowing down, (2) Jordan Farmar is hurt and (3) Shannon Brown is in over his head.  In the middle, Yao Ming is simply to big a handful for Bynum, who is still not even close to 100%.

But LA has Phil Jackson on the bench and this is a man who loves a strategic challenge.

If moving Trevor Ariza to the backcourt to smother the waterbug point guards will help, the Lakers can consider fielding a big, quick lineup that puts Ariza, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol on the court at he same time... and adds in Luke Walton for his passing skills and size.  

Could work.     


  



Since: Apr 27, 2009
Posted on: May 6, 2009 4:29 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

No one with any basketball sense ever said it was IMPOSSIBLE for the Rockets to beat the Lakers (except in hyperbole).  The Lakers had home court advantage, a better record of success during the regular season, and a heck of a lot of professional and amateur analysts saying they are better.  However, the Rockets are an excellent team, and have the real potential to beat the law of averages and win this series.  Now that they have "stolen" home court advantage, and have shown the Lakers that they are no pushovers, they may actually have the advantage.   It will come down to which team can dig down the deepest, make the most of their considerable talent, and execute.



Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: May 6, 2009 4:14 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

TwpPlates: I can see why your level is "amateur"!  I think there was one post about the layoff, which may or may not be valid.  But for sure, Kobe was under the weather, and if you think that's not relevant you're crazy.  It's not an "excuse", but it IS a reason!  There is a difference.  Kobe rarely has two bad games in a row, regardless of the circumstances.  I expect a much different Laker team tonight.  PJ was right, the Lakers played a TERRIBLE game.  No excuses. 



Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: May 6, 2009 4:03 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

Not sure which scenario I like better - the Rockets beating the Lakers this round or the Cavs beating them in the Finals.



Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: May 6, 2009 3:39 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

TwoPlates lets not get to crazy here.  It's great to be so optimistic about your team but lets not go overboard here buddy.  Houston played a good defensive game but the missed wide-open shots that the Lakers missed had nothing to do with Houston.  Brooks couldn't be guarded and went to the cup often.  I think if we get Farmar on him earlier in the game that will help.  LA missed wide-open shots that they normally make.  Kobe made plenty or bad decisions at times blame it on Houston's defense but also on stupidity.  Bynum was scoring early and Kobe neglected to keep feeding him the ball instead jacking up bad shots.  Nothing to do with Houston's defense more on Kobe's tendency to try and do too much.  Missing shots made things worse on him because when he was double and triple teamed his guys weren't making wide-open jumps shots or were pump-faking no one to drive into traffic.  Ariza did that several times during the game.  With all that said LA was still in the game with less than 3 minutes to go.  Like Phil said we couldn't play any worse than we did.  Expect them to make those open shot and beat Houston tonight by 10 points.  Houston played good dude and are a good defensive team but when we win this thing in game 5 or 6 games then you can go have all the shots of Goose that you want.  I will blame your ignorance on the al al al alco alcohol!!!



Since: Sep 10, 2008
Posted on: May 6, 2009 3:38 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

so you're saying atlanta and houston are equal?



Since: Mar 27, 2008
Posted on: May 6, 2009 3:32 pm
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

 you could say that about any player in any game in any sport. Thanks RobRoy, I know that, I was just using Ariza as an exanple. Fish along with everyone else shot very bad. If you want to get down to stats the shooting % as you stated was low all the way around. Point is you dont see games like that too oftern from L.A. I am not making any excuses for you guys either.

BNCLEV, the east is a totally different style of basketball and the west was a much tougher conference this year. Clevland is a great team dont get me wrong but the competition isnt the same.


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