Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 6

LakersRead about the Lakers vs. Rockets Game 6 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

Game 5
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 12, 2009
Lakers 118, Rockets 78: 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

Shannon Brown Pregame
Quick … Who’s leading the NBA in postseason 3-point field goal percentage? Um, Chauncey Billups? (nope, third) … Mike Bibby? (no, fourth) … Eddie House? (uh uh, seventh). It’s Shannon Brown, who’s nailed 10-of-16 bombs from deep for a 62.5 percent success rate (Trevor Ariza’s in fifth, by the way, shooting 53.1 percent). I spent a few minutes with Brown in the locker room before the game, and he first credited his teammates with getting him open shots, and rightfully so. While he said his stroke feels fantastic, he also made sure to credit each one of L.A.’s coaches (he named each individually) with helping him maintain confidence to take the shot when he’s open. Luckily for L.A., he’s been listening.

Adelman: All about “Activity”:
I asked Rockets head coach Rick Adelman why Houston got fewer good looks in Game 5 than in Game 4, and he said it was L.A.’s activity more than any switch in scheme or adjustment. Basically, the Lakers worked harder to get in lanes and contest shots, and Houston had trouble dealing with it.

ScolaFirst Quarter
12:00 Loved the short National Anthem. Always a boost. Alas, keep an eye on the first five minutes, because in Game 3, L.A. led 13-5 at that point. In Game 4, it was 12-4 Rockets.

11:20 L.A. could have had an open alley-oop to Bynum, but Ariza threw a bounce pass instead that went out of bounds. Scola responded with a jumper and then two free throws after Bryant missed a J, and finally capped a personal 6-0 run with a turnaround move on Bynum (9:59).

9:22 L.A.’s first point was an Ariza free throw, which Brooks countered with a floater and Artest a breakaway dunk when Gasol turned it over.

7:28 Really? Anyone else shocked that the Lakers were again unable to match Houston’s opening salvo? With the energy level extremely high for Houston on defense, L.A. started 0-of-6, including two really good looks from Bynum and four misses from Bryant. The Rockets had no such trouble in nailing 5-of-8 shots to open the quarter, including a Brooks three that forced a Phil Jackson timeout. Rockets 13, Lakers 1 (no typo).

7:20 Jackson inserted Walton and Odom in for Ariza and Bynum, but Fisher missed an open three and Scola first spun around Odom for a deuce, then turned another Fisher miss into another bucket in the paint. That gave Scola 10 points, and the Rockets a 17-1 lead.

6:20 Bryant’s basline drive made it 17-3, a point better than Houston’s 17-4 start in Game 4. But Scola scored again, easily, in the paint, and Gasol missed an open jumper. L.A. couldn’t get close despite having plenty of open looks.

2:46 Even Chuck Hayes (averaging 0.9 points in the postseason) was getting into it for Houston, but the Lakers finally hit some shots (three straight) to make it 23-9.

1:59 The good news for L.A.? Bryant started going to the hoop and Fisher hit his first jumper after three misses to make it 23-9, which was three points less than their Game 4 deficit at this time.

1:23 Farmar immediately contributed with a three, but Scola continued his career best quarter with another jumper. How about 14 points for Scola on 6-of-9? Yikes.

0:14.3 Another triple from Farmar cut the deficit to 12 … Think Jackson’s staying with the UCLA product? He was the key in L.A.’s 12-6 run to close a quarter down 27-15 after at one point being down 21-3.

L.A. hit just 6-of-20 shots (30 percent), while Houston made twice that, 12-of-21 (57 percent), numbers that should start to even out as the game progresses.

KobeSecond Quarter
11:22 Good start for the Lakers, who got a Bryant bucket and two Brown free throws (thanks to an Odom swat of Scola) to cut the lead to eight.

9:50 Big counter from the Rockets, who watched Battier and Artest nail back-to-back threes to erase L.A.’s solid open.

5:50 Von Wafer’s three followed a Lowry hoop to give Houston a 42-25 lead, its biggest of the quarter.

5:35 Bryant, fresh off the bench, stuck a jumper. He’ll need a few more of those. The rhythm of the game has turned from all Houston to back and forth, but the Lakers clearly need to do more than trade hoops.

2:50 Bryant’s been able to drive by Artest all series, and he did it again to get a Lakers layup. L.A. may have built on it as Kobe swatted a Battier layup attempt and got Ariza an open three, but Ariza missed … Then Bynum missed his follow up to an offensive board, rushing the shot with his left hand, and Houston got another Scola hoop at the other end (18 points).

2:03 Bryant drew a technical foul for making contact with Artest after Ron-Ron fouled him. It was hard to see what happened from here, but Artest reacted as if Bryant had given him a Mike Tyson right hook. After Brooks hit the T, Bryant made his two free throws, and seemed to settle matters with a conversation with Artest. It appeared as if Bryant were trying to get Artest’s hands off him, and he caught Ron lightly on the face with his arm? You tell me.

0:40.3 Ariza drew a blocking foul on Hayes (his third) but missed 1-of-2 from the line, L.A’s fourth miss (two each for him and Odom). Farmar then fouled Brooks near midcourt, and he hit both to put Houston up 15.

0:26.7 L.A. should hope the Rockets keep Artest on him at times … Bryant blew by him for a two-handed dunk.

0:03.0 An end-of-shot clock three from Brooks was just about fitting for that first half, and it put Houston up 52-36 at the break. In Game 4, Houston led 54-36 in a relatively similar game. The Rockets shot 51 percent to L.A.’s 31 percent, made five threes and turned the ball over just four times.

ArtestThird Quarter
11:37 Some good ball movement earned Fisher an open three, but he missed again … Ariza made up for it, however, with a steal and two-handed breakaway dunk at the other end.

10:20 Big hit from Ariza, from downtown, and L.A. had the quarter’s first five points. Ariza then drew a pushing foul on Artest at the other end, and No. 3 had in two minutes changed the tune of the game, because Gasol nailed a lefty hook at the other end to cut the lead to nine.

9:16 Gasol’s tap out on a missed triple fell into Bryant’s hands, and a blocking foul earned two free throws that made it 52-45. The TV timeout had preceded the free throws, which meant the crowd wasn’t able to get as elevated since Bryant hit both.

7:03 Bryant for three, end of shot clock, and a Gasol layup cut the lead to only four. L.A. had basically earned itself a whole new ball game.

6:09 Solid couple of defensive plays from Bynum, including a contest of Scola and rebound … Then two Bryant FTs cut the lead to 54-52, a 16-2 run to start the quarter.

4:20 The tenor of the game had changed, but in case anyone thought the resilient Rockets were going to lay down, they reeled off an 8-2 run to go back up by eight, capped by a corner three from Brooks.

3:40 Jackson has to like how aggressive Bryant’s been going to the hoop, which again resulted in two free throws. He hit again in the paint a possession later to get to 27 points on 20 shots.

1:19 Farmar, who came in around the 4-minute mark, nailed a corner three to cut the lead to five before Artest and Gasol traded hoops.

0:05.4 A momentum changing shot went down for Scola off the pick and pop, getting him to 24 points and giving Houston a 9-point lead thanks to the final four points of the quarter. L.A. unwisely didn’t take two open shots that would have given them a 2-for-1, and had to settle for a heaved three from Farmar that had no chance. Still, the visitors shaved nine points off the halftime lead.

BryantFourth Quarter
10:32 A personal foul (reaching in) and missed jumper got Vujacic on the bench immediately in favor of Shannon Brown, who joined Farmar, Walton, Odom and Gasol on the floor. Odom followed a Gasol miss with a two-handed dunk to make it 7-point game.

8:48 A tad surprising that Kobe stayed on the bench after a timeout, but Artest took a terrible jumper to give L.A. the ball back still down seven. Artest is 5-of-14 on the evening, and disturbingly for Houston, he’s not using his size advantage to get on the block, instead settling for J’s.

7:33 What do I know? Artest responded with a top-of-the-key three. Eh, on second thought, he’s still hurting Houston with all the perimeter action.

6:56 Big momentum play for Landry, who threw in a hammer dunk in the lane plus the harm to put Houston up 81-71 (missed the FT). Meanwhile, Bryant was back in for L.A., set to make a final push for the purple and gold.

4:56 A kicked ball wasn’t called on Houston, giving Farmar a turnover and the Rockets possession up nine.

3:39 Big shot from Brooks, a pull up in the lane, which preceded a big play: Battier clearly hit Bryant’s wrist on a three, but no call was given. That set the score at 86-75 as time began to run out on L.A.’s comeback attempt.

2:12 A hard to understand foul on Odom preceded a Bryant hoop (31 points), but L.O. fouled out trying to block Brooks at the other end and the game was officially over (14-point lead).

0:00 Want some good news, Lakers fans? Game 7 is in STAPLES.