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: Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton
Rockets: Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Joey Dorsey
1) Lamar Odom will play. That’s certainly the most important note.
2) Tracy McGrady’s on the shelf for a few weeks, and even held a pregame press conference to talk about how he’s been playing hurt all year but didn’t want to come off the court. His health is certainly paramount to their playoff chances.
3) Yao Ming gave me his take on Sun Yue both as a player and a person, and I’ll have a story on that tomorrow.
4) D.J. Mbenga spent some time with me to talk about his relationship with fellow Congo native Dikembe Mutombo, whom he looks up to as a brother, and about their collective charitable work back in Africa. Mbenga’s primary focus is education, which I’ll also put something together about for tomorrrow.
5) Finally, two on-the-court points:
A) L.A. might be best served pounding the ball to Bynum and Gasol and letting the two seven-footers carry them offensively, since Bryant and Fisher might have to exert a good deal of effort in the absence of, basically, any other guards. Plus, Bynum’s had consecutive 20-point games, and Gasol’s due for a good offensive outing after struggling on Sunday.
B) Watch out for Aaron Brooks, Houston’s jet-quick backup point guard who gave L.A. fits even with Farmar and Vujacic in the lineup.
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Vladi, Pau and Bynum
Rockets: Rafer Alston, Von Wafer (yup, that Von Wafer), Shane Battier, Luis Scola and Yao Ming
0:00 The Rockets were introduced with Biggy’s “Hypnotize” in the background, which I think should count for at least a point. Josh Powell would say “Bet” to that. However, since Houston’s mascot is a fuzzy grey bear (huh?), we’ll take the point away. What’s wrong with a Rocket?
10:35 Skip To My Lou’s triple gave the Rockets an early 7-2 lead. Tell me you watched the original And-1 Mix Tape … Alston was dirtier than a booger-picking third grader’s fingers.
6:08 L.A.’s best offensive player in the first six minutes? Vladimir Radmanovic, with seven points (including a triple). Vladi also grabbed four boards to build on his best game in a long time in Sunday’s win over Miami.
5:19 Former Lakers second-round draft pick Von Wafer drills a triple to give Houston a 20-11 lead as the Rockets shot an on-fire 9-of-12 (75 percent) to start the game.
3:47 Kobe’s deep jumper capped a quick 6-0 run to bring L.A. within three, despite L.A.’s poor shooting (6-of-14).
1:52 There’s Lamar Odom. We’ll see how he looks… Also checking in was Trevor Ariza, who did nothing against the Heat thanks in part to foul trouble on Sunday.
1:20 Odom took Scola to the hole on his first touch and missed, but Ariza was there for a put-back that made it 24-23 Rockets. One play is surely too early to judge, but Odom’s not moving gingerly or anything of the sort (I just judged I guess … whatever).
1:02 Let’s take this timeout opportunity to let Ty Nowell know that Houston does carry Dr. Pepper in its media room (not to mention Strawberry Fanta). Nowell’s always complaining that STAPLES has been consistently putting out root beer instead of Dr. Pepper.
50.5 L.A. takes its first lead on a Bryant jumper.
0:01 After Skip scored in the paint to put Houston back up 26-25, Bryant missed a jumper at the buzzer.
What Lakers fans shouldn’t like about the quarter is that Bynum struggled to 1-of-5 shooting with Yao’s length bothering him a bit (he even missed an alley-oop), though Pau was 2-of-3 and grabbed four boards. As a team, the Lakers shot 50 percent thanks to a better final six minutes, though Houston got through the quarter shooting 57 percent, led by Wafer’s nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Well … he did can that corner three to beat Boston last week, so we’ll give him some credit. He’s also charged with guarding Bryant in the second quarter with Battier resting, which should be fun.
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