At halftime of Game 4′s 99-87 loss in Houston, the Lakers trailed by 18 points after a horribly flat 24-minute performance.
At halftime of Game 6, the Lakers trailed by 16 points after a half that really wasn’t that bad despite a 21-3 start for Houston. In fact, it wasn’t a lack of energy that was killing the Lakers, but instead, an inability to stick a jumper. Particularly in the first, the Lakers just couldn’t buy a bucket, going 6-for-20 (30 percent) while Houston made twice that many shots (12-of-21).
Generally, those kind of numbers begin to even out in a basketball game, and sure enough, the Lakers stormed out of the halftime gates on a 16-2 run to cut the lead down to just two and seemingly change the tenor of the game, spurred by Andrew Bynum’s interior defense and Trevor Ariza’s activity on the perimeter.
But if L.A.’d learned anything about the Rockets, it’s that they won’t give up, and true to form, Houston pushed its lead back up to nine heading into the final quarter.
With a raucous Toyota Center living and dying with each possession, Houston got seven points in the first eight minutes of the period from Carl Landry to keep the Lakers at bay until 4:20 remained on the clock, holding onto a 84-75 lead that they’d protect all the way to a Game-7 forcing victory.
Luis Scola was fantastic for Houston in the first three quarters, scoring 24 points with 11 boards to pace the home team, while Aaron Brooks again served as a barometer for Houston in scoring 26 points, including two big jumpers in the lane late in the fourth.
For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant went for 32 points on 27 shots, while Pau Gasol managed just 14 points on 15 shots as both players grew increasingly frustrated by the physical play in the lane that was allowed throughout the contest.
Lamar Odom contributed 14 rebounds in 28 painful minutes, while Bynum failed to score (0-for-3) but did grab seven boards in 19 minutes, none of which came in the fourth quarter despite his effective third period.
Derek Fisher struggled once again for the purple and gold, connecting on only 1-of-7 attempts from the field (0-of-5 from three) in 21 minutes, while Jordan Farmar was a bright spot with 13 points in the same number of minutes.
The good news for the Lakers was that Game 7 would take place in STAPLES Center, where they’d beaten Houston by 40 just two nights earlier.
Until then, some numbers:
Times the Lakers led.
Point for the Lakers with 6:35 left in the first quarter. Houston had 17.
Offensive rebounds for the Lakers, which inexplicably led to only 12 second chance points. This stat exhibits L.A.’s poor shooting night as well as how physical the refs allowed the game to get in the paint, as many second shots came with a body.
Missed threes by the Lakers, who hit 5-of-23 (21.7 percent).
L.A.’s shooting percentage for the game, as the Lakers struggled to hit both open and contested looks throughout the contest.