The Lakers started the season great!
Then the second quarter happened. Then the third quarter happened. The Lakers were outscored by 17 points in those 24 minutes. McGrady heated up and was seemingly impossible to stop. Lakers could only put Kobe on him for so long as T-Mac finished with 30 points. But the real dagger was Battier who hit the game winning three with less than 3 seconds remaining.
The Lakers defense in the first quarter was impressive. Kwame did a number on Yao and Kobe locked up T-Mac. When Kobe, Fisher, and Kwame went to the bench, everything seemed to fall apart. Bynum was getting beat in the middle, Farmar was chasing James all over the court, and no one could slow down McGrady.
Offensively, the Lakers had poor ball movement for most of the game. They did have 18 assists, but many were on broken plays. Kobe’s wrist hurt the Lakers as he missed 19 FGs and 9 FTs. As bad as he played, he still got 45 points and 4 steals, and kept the Lakers in the game.
I like how Kobe attacked the basket, but he needs to find a way to get his big men involved more. Only 3 FG attempts for Kwame in 27 minutes and only 5 for Turiaf in 24 minutes of play. Let’s get to the bests of the night:
Top 3 Laker Performers:
1) Derek Fisher played great. He hustled on D, contested shots, and gave the Lakers physical and consistent play all night long. In 34 minutes, Fish shot 6-9 and had 17 points, 4 steals, and the game tying shot late in the 4th. Welcome back Dfish!
2) Despite Kobe’s poor shooting, Kobe gave it his all. With an injured wrist, there is only so much he can do. Kobe tried to get in the paint as much as he could and shot a career high 27 FTs. Don’t be worried about the percentages. Once Kobe is healthy, they will be normal. Focus on his lock-up defense on McGrady and the hustle he displayed when blocking Bonzi Wells (which got called for a foul). He also had 4 steals.
3) Kwame Brown didn’t have much of a stat line (4 pts, 8 rebs, 1 steal, missed all 4 FT), but he played great defense. I know you are thinking, he gave up 25 and 12 to Yao, but most of Yao’s points came against other Laker defenders. When he was matched up against Kwame, Kwame held his ground and contested just about every shot. Lakers just need to find a way to get him more involved offensively.
Lakers Smush of the Day (Note: STD denotes the Laker that played the poorest):
Brian Cook once again was bad. Not only did he force up two bricks, but he also found a way to turn the ball over, and get matched up on Yao for a play. The result was Yao slowly spinning past him for an effortless and uncontested dunk–assist Brian Cook.
Key play of the game: Fisher knocks the ball in the air. Luke and Bynum (I think) fight for the ball as it goes in the hoop for the Rockets. Tmac was credited with the layup as he was standing at half-court. Take away these two points, and we are in overtime folks!
What to look for next game: Look for a better game from Kobe. 2 days rest should help his wrist. Kwame should get the start again and will have to do a number on Amare. Game is Fri night @ 7:30 PM.