Out of Bounds: Rise of the Machines

Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Not the haunting loss in last years’ NBA Finals. Not a Christmas day rematch with the Boston Celtics. Not a regular season face-off between Kobe and Lebron. Not the continuance of a four-year losing streak at the Rose Garden. Not a pesky Utah Jazz team in the first round. Not even a clichéd Lebron James running over Kobe Bryant in the MVP race.

In the span of just a few minutes, a crazed Ron Artest and a flopping Luis Scola managed to do something that nothing else this season has been able to:

Inflame some passion in this Lakers team.

Game 2 was the basketball version of Braveheart. For most of this season, the Lakers have been the peaceful, family-friendly, say the right thing version of William Wallace. During the third quarter of last night’s clash at Staples Center, Luis Scola and Ron Artest bullied the Lakers family. And in an instant, the Lakers transformed into the wreak havoc on England, leave no-one alive version of William Wallace.

For eighty-eight games this season, the Lakers have been simmering on the stove of greatness. Last night, the Houston Rockets turned up the flame and ripped the knob right off the stove.

Lamar Odom, for maybe the first time ever, donned the “F-you” face. Luke Walton jumped to L.O.’s defense and had a few choice words for Scola. Derek Fisher, one of the nicest guys in NBA history, dropped a Van Damme elbow in the chest of Scola. And Kobe Bryant shrugged off Ron Artest with an elbow of his own, not to mention trash talking with Shane Battier during his metamorphoses back into retro-killer-Kobe.

A handful of technical’s, a pair of ejections and a flagrant foul later, the Lakers went on to win the most important game they’ve played thus far in the season; but they didn’t just win on the scoreboard. Last season, when KG, Perkins, Pierce and the rest of the Boston Celtics bullied these same Lakers’, they folded faster than Ryan Leaf’s career. During the second half last night, the Lakers showed a toughness that wasn’t present last season.

We have waited all season for what the Lakers showed in the 3rd quarter last night. Some will say the Lakers lost their composure, I say they finally found it. Most will say D-Fish took a cheap shot, and while it certainly was a flagrant, I say it changed the whole energy of this Lakers team. Some will say Kobe’s elbow was out of line, and while it’s arguable if that was a flagrant or not, I say it just gave Kobe a reason to demolish the Houston Rockets.

For 24 minutes last night, the Lakers showed a certain passion that we have only seen in small doses this season. They were focused on wiping the floor with the Rockets, rather than on not blowing a big lead. They played with energy that we knew existed somewhere inside of them. The Staples Center crowd, for the first time since Christmas Day, put down their lattes and showed an invested interested in the game. And regardless of losing home-court with a game one loss, the momentum of this series has changed.

Even without Derek Fisher for game 3 on Friday, the Lakers will readily answer the only lingering question that really matters:

Was the second half of game 2 an aberration, or are those Lakers here to stay?

I can’t wait to find out.

Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, or look him up on Facebook.

Jason Riley is the executive director of LakerNation.com. He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.
  • xfellerx

    oooh la la.

  • http://neoshocapital.com Farmabrick

    Artest’s peculiar postgame quote about a contentious playground game in which one of his childhood friends died from a table leg thrown through his heart was brought up to another of Artest’s childhood friends from New York, Lamar Odom.

    Odom said the incident happened in upstate New York, not near their New York City home and “a riot broke out.” About the strange situation, Odom cited the death and said: “There’s nothing funny about that at all.”

    I hope Lamar starts playing with more intensity: he’s looked sort of lost out there in Games 1 and 2. I guess Ron-Ron intimidates him.

  • dave

    love the article man. we need to play with that us against the world mentality- because really, that’s what it is. we stay nasty or we go home.

  • T. Franco

    Lakers -1 Game 3 hmmmm whats your opinion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=684346052 Zoom Kobe II

    Kobe said last year: “You shake the tree, and a tiger’s gonna fall out” Result: RIP J.R. Smith

    Houston just shook the whole forest.

  • http://myspace.com/badlatinmutha JohnJOhn

    Thats right. You can do it. You can do it all night long.

  • http://www.visionofthefans.com Chris Manning

    [Comment ID #70346 Will Be Quoted Here]
    Love it.

  • kobe-wan kenobi

    curious to find out if lakes show up like yesterday or soft as usual
    which means defeat!

    houston is not gonna be soft for sure

  • PurpsNGold

    If u look at what Boston did all year last year, which was terrorizing teams, it looks like the once SofTT Lakers can now, do that. Not tryimg to promote terrorism or dirty play, but look where it took da C’s last year.

    I think da killer instinct 4 da lakers has been unleashed.

    Game 3 couldn’t come any sooner…

  • reirey24

    come game3 houston gona be afraid with this lakeshow.. we need to win game3 get bak our homekort

  • lainok

    one thing to realize is that houston if physical, and will not be intimidated by what happened in game two.

    the second thing to realize is that if houston gets pissed off, they aren’t going to play that well. most teams or players don’t play better when they are mad. except for the lakers. they always play better when they are angry, and kobe bryant is the poster child for turning anger into gold.

    after artest got ejected and kobe threw that pass off the backboard to himself for the score, he looked like neo fighting all the agent smiths. best lakers highlight of the year. number two highlight was shannon browns first minute as a laker snatching the ball right out of that dudes hands 12 feet in the air.

  • Sean All Ivy

    Great article. Houston doesn’t have to be intimidated by us. We are so talentated that if we play with the passion that we had in the 2nd half we will just run them off the court. No team has the guns to stick with us, even if they aren’t intimidated. We can only beat ourselves, its all about us playing with fire which inspires confidence.

  • gugy

    I really hope “the Machine” finally rises to the occasion. Wake up Sasha!

  • imfasterthanur

    Well written.

    The events in Game 2 may have been the catalyst(s) we needed.

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/2009/05/07/out-of-bounds-rise-of-the-machines/#more-11599 DickChoke

    Houston played right into the Lakers hands in trying to go physical with us. Jackson probably told the team to take the gloves off and get medievel on their monkey asses. Houston should’ve left well enough alone and watch punk btch Artest come out and try to stir things up and get completely out of his game. March on Lakers!