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, Derek Fisher*, Sun Yue
Rockets: Joey Dorsey, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo
*Fisher was suspended for one game following his elbow of Luis Scola in Game 2.
After hearing from Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, we spent a few minutes with assistant coach Jim Cleamons to get prepped for Friday night’s 6:30 p.m. L.A. tipoff against Houston in Game 4. Clem addressed L.A.’s need for an aggressive Pau Gasol (”the entire team wants Pau to be aggressive at times”) and spoke about how the Lakers can improve upon what they’ve been doing.
Brown, Farmar To Fisher: “We got you”
Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar preempted any need for Derek Fisher to put down words of wisdom heading into a game for which the veteran is suspended with a simple, collective phrase: “We got you.” Though L.A.’s offense will just as readily call upon Kobe Bryant, Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom to handle the ball, Brown and Farmar will surely see an increase in minutes in Fisher’s absence, and both said they’re confident and excited to help their team … And to gain the approving nod of their captain in the process.
Lakers: Farmar, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Yao
12:00 The Rockets put out free Toyota t-shirts (that also mentioned the Rockets) … But only covered the length of the court in the lower bowl. In related news, TV cameras shoot along the length of the court. Meanwhile, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child (the one you don’t remember) sang the anthem, and while her voice is obviously quite good, the volume needed to come down about three levels. At the other end of the spectrum, Houston’s pregame video was tight, showcasing some serious graphical work.
11:51 Do teams not scout this play, or what? The alley-oop back pick works nearly every time for L.A., and this time saw Odom throw down a lofted Ariza pass. Yao then had his pocket picked by Farmar, before the Spaniard hit a 15-foot jumper over Yao, and Bryant a jumper over Battier to put L.A. up 6-0.
9:36 Bryant’s three-pointer pushed him past Larry Bird to 6th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.
9:13 Back-to-back deep jumpers saw nothing but net from Kobe, the first a three-pointer in Artest’s face (Ron switched the Odom pick), and L.A. was up 11-4. Odom’s hoop a minute later found the Lakers up 13-5 on 6-of-8 shooting, and it was all coming quite easily on offense for the purple and gold.
7:10 Houston was having trouble getting good shots until Battier hit a three that preceded one from Artest, quickly pulling Houston back into the game at 13-11. We know that Artest isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but he’s been one in this series.
5:25 How did Houston stay in the game? Threes, hitting their third straight (Brooks) to tie things at 18. L.A. did answer with a layup from Odom and dunk from Ariza, Trevor’s courtesy of a terrific effort play from Farmar. Meanwhile, Bryant hit over Yao and around Battier, his fifth make in six shots. The “You can’t guard me” didn’t come out of his mouth, but everyone heard it.
2:47 The first timeout came with L.A. shooting 66 percent (12-of-18), signifying one thing: Houston hasn’t been able to stop L.A.’s starters for two straight games. Bryant had 11 and Odom eight, while Farmar had three assists without a turnover, and Jackson kept the starters on floor with L.A. up 26-20.
1:23 Yao hit his third shot of the quarter and second in a row to cap a 6-0 Rockets run that tied the game. He’s getting better post position on Pau, and the Rockets are doing a better job of feeding him than in Game 2.
0:22.0 Gasol hit another jumper over Yao to follow a Farmar dunk in transition, but you have to give Yao the center matchup after Pau dominated him in Game 2. Ming scored eight points with two boards, Gasol four and two. Overall, it was a very effective offensive quarter for the Lakers, who shot 61 percent for 30 points, but Houston also made a wide variety of shots to get 28 of their own. The good news for L.A.? The game was played at its pace.
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