Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 5

FleaRead about the Lakers vs. Rockets game as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 4, 2009
Lakers 92, Rockets 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 6, 2009
Lakers 111, Rockets 98: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 8, 2009
Lakers 108, Rockets 94: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 10, 2009
Lakers 87, Rockets 99: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum*
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Hayes
*Phil Jackson had implied that Lamar Odom would start if he were active, but nope … It’s Andrew Bynum. Surprise, surprise.

Flea Hits National Anthem on Bass
Domination. We’ll try to get that video later, but here’s a link to Flea’s Western Conference Finals performance from last season, when he played his trumpet.

Odom Update: TNT’s Craig Sager is saying that it’s doubtful for Odom to play, which he ascertained by talking to Odom on the court during warmups. Odom then had conversations with L.A.’s team Dr. and athletic trainer Gary Vitti, which apparently didn’t go well.
**Update: Odom checked in with 4:22 left in the first … So, never mind.

Andrew BynumFirst Quarter
11:36 Literally the best play that L.A. could have run to get Bynum involved immediately: an alley-oop from Gasol. If you’re L.A., use your height.

10:24 Bryant’s bad pass resulted in Artest’s put-back at the other end, but Bynum scored again from Bryant on the next possession. Generally Bynum’s activity level on defense grows with early offense…

8:37 A Brooks layup gave the young point guard two early buckets, and his teammates weren’t missing either, nailing 6-of-9 to put 13 quick points on the board. L.A. has to get used to Houston’s small lineup with two seven footers on the floor … After all, it took three quarters to adjust to with Odom out there.

7:05 Some good defensive energy produced two Gasol blocks on one possession (three total already) and allowed L.A. to get within 13-11 thanks to four points from Bryant and an Ariza free throw. Credit the Rockets for hitting some tough shots, but L.A.’s shown that it won’t be conceding anything easily.

5:19 Houston’s first turnover, an Ariza pick from Brooks, resulted in a two-handed jam from the UCLA product to cap a 6-0 run and tie the game at 18. It’s a different Ariza from the one that casually turned the ball over to start Game 4.

3:11 Bryant opened the game 4-of-5, primarily on shots in the lane, which is surely a good sign for the Lakers. Houston has not a single shot blocker, and penetration’s been an available early option.

1:27 I had just leaned over to tell Ty Nowell this: “Odom’s not moving well, look at him laboring up the court.” Then he nailed a three to put L.A. up 27-20.

0:53.0 Gasol’s angry face after he smashed a two-handed dunk after spinning around Scola was a welcome sign to Lakers fans.

0:00 Quite a bit more pleasing for the assembled was Farmar’s buzzer beating triple from 30 feet, which followed Ariza’s transition three to cap a 23-6 L.A. run that had the home team up 35-24 after one.

ArizaSecond Quarter
11:40 Sasha bumped Wafer out of bounds with pressure defense, and Gasol made some real easy work of Brian Cook to keep the run going into the second. Is there a worse mismatch in the playoffs than Cook vs. Gasol? That’s like Tyson and anyone he faced in his first two years as champ. In related news, the “Tyson” documentary is fantastic.

10:07 Houston’s largest deficit of the playoffs came on the heels of L.A.’s 8-0 run to start the quarter. On top of the 23-6 run, that’s 31-6 (good math, I know, thanks). As Doug Collins mentioned, L.A. clearly heard what was being said about them after Sunday’s loss. The Lakers were to Spencer as Houston was to Shepratt’s x-boyfriend in that stanza.

6:31 We all know the grit of the Rockets by now, and saw it again with a nice spurt from their bench, but Gasol scored beautifully in the lane and Shannon Brown nailed a three to fire right back. Lakers 52, Rockets 33.

4:03 Odom checked out with seven points, three boards, an assist and a steal in a gritty effort. A moment later, Bynum ran the floor ahead of the pack, and sure enough, was rewarded with two free throws that put L.A. up by 24. Josh Powell – who came in for Odom – is always in Bynum’s ear about getting his butt up the floor, and the results are obvious.

1:42 We like to talk about Bryant’s momentum threes … And he dropped one in transition to get to 20 points and put L.A. up 64-35. The possession before, Bryant had nailed a super-difficult fadeaway as the shot clock ran out, and was 8-of-13 from the field.

0:00 An impressive statement from a team that looked intently focused resulted in a 64-39 lead at the half. “We just had to make our adjustments defensively,” said Kobe, who could also have said “We’re pretty good when we bring our A game.”

L.A. shot 54.5 percent from the field, made 5-of-8 threes, and barely allowed Houston an open look.

OdomThird Quarter
10:23 L.A. didn’t seem content with its halftime lead, instead getting a Bynum putback (plus the harm) and a Bryant J to go up 69-41.

9:17 Is Artest a better shooter with the defense all over him? I think so. His story suggests that the brand of ball he played growing up was more than physical, and he obviously got used to hitting shots with people in his face.

8:29 Bynum: 14 points in 17 minutes. This off another offensive board, which Houston simply couldn’t prevent with their lack of size. Bynum’s game thus far is certainly the most positive technical sign of the game (if the effort is a mental sign).

7:31 L.A.’s length really began to wear on the Rockets over a two-minute span than included two Bynum offensive boards, a bigtime contest of Scola from both Bynum and Gasol, and a tipped offensive board from Bynum to Gasol that netted two free throws and a 31 point lead.

6:11 Lakers to 80 points. That didn’t take long.

2:04 Gasol continued a terrific game with a lefty hook in the lane, Farmar checked in to hit his second triple, and Odom continued to battle through pain by drawing an Artest foul and converting both free throws. L.A. by a lot, 90-54.

0:00 The hits kept coming to a Rockets team that was already staggering, with Ariza picking Cook’s pocket and converting a roll-around-the-rim baseline dunk/layup, and Farmar pulling up for three but instead feeding Ariza for an unexpected layup as time expired. L.A. by 40.

KobeFourth Quarter
9:59 Josh Powell got into the action with his first jumper as every Laker but Walton had scored. Luke, in 14 minutes, did have five boards, two assists and two steals.

8:59 I just inquired in on my Twitter page if Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Denzel Washington, Adam Sandler and Richie Sambora could hold L.A.’s 40-point lead. Upon immediate serious consideration, there’s obviously little to no chance, but I’m counting on Denzel to at least dribble the ball across halfcourt a few times?

6:00 The wave came into play for the Lakers fans, which was somewhat odd at a basketball game … That said, it gets our full support, since Dr. Dre was participating, as noted by ESPN’s Beto Duran. If Dre’s down, so are we.

4:24 D.J. Mbenga on the floor with a board, as J-Peezy scores six points in a manner of minutes to put L.A. up 113-76. At this point, we’re much more interested in the people’s Twitter responses to the five celeb question. One good one: RT @shawnmir: @miketrudell: Denzel, Pete Carroll, Magic, Jack n Kreem

2:20 Powell flew over the first row trying to save the ball with L.A. up by 40.

1:20A final point of emphasis on the game came from Mbenga, who rather viciously threw down a two-handed dunk to make it 118-76 Lakers. Houston would get a bucket back, but the final score would reflect a 40-point edge for the home team.

There was L.A.’s response, loud and clear.