ESPN: In a Lakers-Rockets game with no shortage of big names, you had to dig deep through the box score to find the real star, the guy Phil Jackson calls a “stealth player.”
Six of his teammates scored more points. Pau Gasol grabbed nearly twice as many rebounds. But Trevor Ariza was the guy secretly responsible for an astounding 45-point swing, from a 16-point Rockets lead early in the second quarter to a 111-82 Lakers victory.
For all the stat geeks, Ariza had a plus/minus of +34 Sunday night. Put that in your web browser and click it. Good things happen when Ariza is on the court, even if he doesn’t always get his name called over the loudspeakers when the play is finished.
“He’s like a ghost out there,” Jackson said. “Like a shadow. Just all of a sudden he shows on a screen, he’s gone. He’s a blip and he’s away.”
Ariza even tried to slip out of the postgame locker room, waiting until a crowd gathered around Andrew Bynum before moving around the reporters and flashing a “peace out” sign to the big center, until Lakers public relations director John Black reeled him in.
“Come here, Trevor,” Black said. “You can’t play that well and leave.”
No, you can’t have eight points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists in 25 important minutes without coming in to explain yourself, even if it’s just elaborating on Jackson’s stealth description.