Read 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.
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Hayes
12:00 As both teams continued to warm up, Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutumbo strode out of the locker room to a very nice ovation from the home fans. It’s certainly a shame to see over 14 feet of men in suits and ties, useless to their team on the court. Perhaps more of a shame is that Yao, so often a victim to lower leg injuries due in large part to his 7-6 frame, will have to deal with another offseason replete with question marks regarding his durability after he was perhaps two games away from making it through a fully healthy season.
11:45 Exactly the kind of play that should let the Lakers know Houston means business came immediately: Scola stepped out hard to contest a pass to Ariza, who fumbled it away to Artest for a fastbreak layup. Houston already had more FB points than in Game 3.
9:30 Houston was very active and aggressive on defense, forcing L.A. into four contested jumpers, all of which missed. Meanwhile, Battier hit a jumper and a three to give Houston a 7-0 lead.
8:31 Bryant crossed over Battier and pulled up for L.A.’s first points, which took 3:30 to get, before pulling up again in the lane for four straight points. Battier, however, responded with another triple, and it was 12-4.
6:16 Battier, who’d made just 3-of-12 threes (25 percent), nailed his third of the quarter to put Houston up 17-4. Ariza followed with his third turnover of the quarter, halfway to L.A.’s Game 3 turnover total by himself.
3:30 Houston can’t miss, getting four straight long jumpers from Brooks (2), Artest and Scola to go up 26-9. There’s a very clear element of “You’d better respect us, it’s not just Yao” from the Rockets.
2:32 With Dick Bavetta in the house, you knew the whistles weren’t going to be blown too often, and Houston was taking full advantage by pushing the Lakers all over the place. Bryant grew frustrated enough to draw a technical that would put Houston up by 15.
2:03 That’s something L.A. should milk like a cow: Gasol isolated on Scola. Easy bucket.
0:00 Bryant missed a buzzer-beating shot that allowed Houston to take a 29-16 lead into the second quarter. Two things explained Houston’s dominance: 1) More active defense; 2) More open looks on offense. It’ll be tough for the Rockets to keep up that high pace, but clearly the Lakers have to change their approach to the game.
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