Lakers Examiner: Let’s play a game. Read the quote below and try to fill in the blanks:
“The ______ keep surprising everyone but themselves, and now they’ve got a chance to pull off the ultimate stunner: knocking out the Los Angeles Lakers. The scrappy, undermanned _____ pushed the Lakers to the limit in their series with a decisive victory…”
If you’re a Laker fan and you penciled in “Oklahoma City Thunder,” congratulations! You’ve officially hit the panic button!
The quote actually comes from an ESPN.com recap of Game 6 of last year’s Western Conference semifinals matchup with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets, who saw their only offensive force, Yao Ming, go down in Game 3 with a broken left foot, gave the Lakers all they could handle in the series.
For those of you that don’t remember, Game 6 against Houston was an embarrassment for the Lakers. They were out-hustled, out-played, out-everythinged, as the Rockets built up an 18-point halftime lead and never looked back. Here’s what Kobe Bryant had to say after the Game 6 loss:
“We just didn’t start the game off the way we should have. We didn’t execute right. They jumped on top of us.”
The series made experts question whether the Lakers truly had what it takes to win the NBA Championship, and many counted them out.