I know what you’re thinking, fellow Laker fans…
Where to begin the recap? Should we start with the monster game of Lamar Odom (25 points on 11-16, 11 rebounds)? How about the 12-point lead the Lakers lost in the last two minutes of the second quarter? Maybe we should talk about the efficient and hustle-filled evening of Matt Barnes (14 points on 5-18, eight rebounds)? Or discuss the struggles of Pau Gasol (eight points on 2-8, nine rebounds) against a 6’6” Chuck Hayes? Maybe it’s best to just ask what we’ve all been dying to ask…
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THIS LAKER TEAM?!!!!!!!!
Who are these players impersonating the defending NBA Champions (and doing a horrible job while they’re at it) because they are certainly not the same team who had the best record in the Western Conference and beat the Boston Celtics in seven games last year. The Lakers who were 13-2 have subbed out this season for a squad who wouldn’t know what to do with a lead if it hit them square in the face.
The Lakers actually looked like they were in it to win it early in the game, shooting 64% at one point in the first quarter and letting the Houston Rockets know that without Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, they were toast. Lamar Odom took on the offensive lead, scoring nine points in the first quarter on his way to a 15-point half with Kobe Bryant scoring the same.
The visitors took a 12 point lead in the second quarter after Derek Fisher hit a three, but as the Lakers should know by now, no lead is safe if you don’t actively protect it, and they didn’t. Houston went on a quick run for the last two minutes of the first half and managed to cut the lead to three entering the third quarter, and that was only after Kobe Bryant hit a buzzer beater to increase the one-point advantage.
The third quarter was a whole lot of Lamar Odom. Odom hit jumpers, layups and even three pointers to keep the Lakers abreast in this game because Kevin Martin, after starting 0-7, suddenly found some life in his shooting and scored 13 of his 22 points in that third quarter. Houston managed to beat the Lakers by two points in that third 12-minute period, but they were only warming up.
If not for Matt Barnes’ back-to-back three-point plays and 10 points in the fourth, the Lakers wouldn’t have had that nine-point lead almost midway through the final quarter. His activity away from the ball is what gave him opportunities to cut and score and his refusal to give up on possessions is what gave the Lakers chances to win this game and they absolutely blew it.
Pau Gasol did next to nothing tonight and maybe it was due to a tight hamstring which he had to have loosened up in the locker room in the fourth quarter. Jordan Hill was giving him problems and he couldn’t even take advantage of the 6’6” Chuck Hayes. Gasol had just eight points on 2-8 shooting in almost 39 minutes of playing time.
Kobe Bryant, who looked about as frustrated towards the end of the game as any captain of a losing streak would be, had 27 points on 10-24. He converted on a number of difficult shots, but in the end, his lack of defense on Shane Battier spoiled the Lakers’ chances of avoiding their fourth loss in a row. Battier scored 11 straight points en route to his 17 points on 5-7 night. He saved all of his defensive energy for Bryant late in the game and it worked to Houston’s advantage.
The Lakers haven’t lost four games in a row since 2007 and they’re starting to play like that Lakers of old, except this time around, they have superior players so why the hardships? With the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets gunning to be the best to come out of the West, the Lakers would be naïve to think they can continue to play they way they’ve been playing and survive a playoff series no matter where they stand at the end of the regular season. It’s time to stop hiding behind the “it’s too early in the season” argument. It’s never too early to play the right way. Right now, his Lakers team is playing the exact opposite of the how-to-defend-your-title game. They have not impressed fear on any opponent, but hopefully these losses strike fear on those it should – themselves.
Pre-game Thoughts: Don’t make it hard on yourselves, Lakers. You know how to play the right way so JUST DO IT.
Half-time Thoughts: 56-53, Rockets late 12-0 lead erased Lakers’ double digit lead. LO and KB with 15 points a piece, but the Houston bench killing LA’s reserves 30-13.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: They lost a 12 point lead in two minutes to end the first half, and then failed to increase, or at least protect, a 7-point lead in the fourth quarter – every Laker who was on the floor when those occurred are GUILTY of being thoughtless.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Lamar Odom played a great game, as did Matt Barnes, but the most thought-filled players in tonight were the Houston Rockets, who never say die no matter how short-handed they are. They were down a starting center and point guard and managed to stick it to the defending champs…again. The Lakers never learn.