The Starting Five
Kobe was masterful with 30-8-5, mostly fantastic defense. Kwame Brown's defensive effort on Yao Ming was impressive (Ming 6-18 FGs) and Kwame added 5 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, but just two points. Fisher had a so-so game, standing out with 13 points, but just two assists and one rebound. Odom fouled out with 10/7, but his defense against McGrady was admirable. Turiaf didn't see much PT again, but had 9 points, 6 boards, and solid D. A good effort for the starting five, but still room for improvement (e.g., 15 combined TOs).
The Pine Riders
Luke Walton flat out sucked tonight. He looked like a rookie. I honestly don't know who was the best off the bench: Vlad hit some big shots, but made some boneheaded plays. Farmar had 8 and 9 boards, but some of the stupidest plays I've ever seen. Evans got into a pissing match with Deke, and Mihm hardly played. Okay, although his performance was shaky at times, Bynum was best off the pine: 6 points, 9 boards for the big guy.
What did I like?
LA showed flashes of the dominant team they could be. They ran up an 18 point lead, the offense was flowing, and the defense held Houston below 23 points in three of the four quarters of the game. If you can hold an opponent below 90 points, as they were trending, you are going to win most of your games.
What did I dislike?
30 personal fouls, 19 TOs, and the Bench Mob, or whatever they're calling themselves, looked very average as LA struggled to finish.
The Lakers must develop their killer instinct if they are to make the move from playoff contender to elite team. Now maybe they don't have the makeup as yet to become an elite team, but they are showing some flashes of brilliance nearly every night and for occasionally long stretches. 61 points in the first half? That's fantastic. Holding Tracy and Yao to 9 for 25 shooting? That's fantastic. Fourth win of the season? I'll take it.
The Lakers (3-3)
The Rockets (6-2)
1. Defense Defense Defense
2. Execute the Triangle
3. Bench Play
Defense Defense Defense
LA's problems start with their offense and end with their defense. Wait, let's try that again: LA's defensive problems start with allowing penetration and end with not covering perimeter shooters. Energy is the key here for LA. Slow down Alston, keep Kobe on T-Mac, and send the three-headed monster at Yao..
Execute the Triangle
Ball movement + moving without the ball + intelligence = fewer TO, open looks, and points in bunches. Kobe has to drive aggressively. I do not believe he got to the line for a FT attempt last game, or if he did it came in the 4th Quarter. He must be more aggressive and the shooters must hit their outside shots. Look for serious production from Odom and Turiaf tonight.
The Rockets are not the Spurs. LA's bench can run Houston's out of the building if they're bringing their A game. Farmar, Vlad, and Walton in particular need to defend when they're on the court. This cannot become an offensive showdown because LA's bench gives up scores too easily to win one of those.