May 11, 2009

What’s up with the Lakers?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

There’s either something really wrong with the Lakers, or something that the Rockets are doing really right. When I heard that the Rockets superstar, Yao Ming, would miss the rest of the playoffs, well I had to figure that the Lakers would easily take the rest of the series. Hell, I had thought that they would win the next four games after losing Game 1 even if Yao was playing. I was very wrong.

Really, on paper, I just don’t know how the Rockets did it. How could the win by a 12-point margin when a key player like Ron Artest only shoots 4-for-19. Really! He missed 15 shots and his team won.

Maybe the home court advantage played a role in the Lakers’ demise. Home teams are winning the majority of games this post-season, so that can’t be discounted. The other thing that can’t be discounted in this loss: Andrew Bynum’s zero points. The big man was hardly there, putting up a scrub-like 0-for-1 shooting and two rebounds. The key Bynum stat, though, was that he played only 12 minutes. But why did a supposed key cog in the Lakers’ rotation play so little? Well Yao’s injury is to blame for that.

It may actually seem that the Yao injury is a blessing. Now, without the 7-foot-6 giant in the lineup, the Rockets can run a lot more and play a faster transition game. That became kind of obvious when you see that Houston ran out to a 29-16 lead after the first quarter.

So now, with the series shifting back to Los Angeles, Phil Jackson is in the unenviable position of having to counter-coach. He is surely capable of doing that, but having to adjust your game plan to cater to your opponent is not something you want to do. I’m sure the Zen Master will come up with something to counter this small-ball revelation the Rockets are running. Either by picking up their tempo, or forcing the game to slow down and pound the ball down low. It’s hard not to have faith in a coach as good as Jackson is.

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