Rockets fall, 89-70

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Rockets completely fell apart immediately after tipoff, losing Game 7 to the Lakers 89-70. Nobody wearing red did much of anything on either end. We had no inside game. We had no outside game. We had no midrange game. We turned the ball over too much. We missed shots. And we couldn’t keep Gasol and Bynum off the boards and out of the lane. The Rockets needed to play close to a perfect game to win with their shallow roster on the road and what we got, unfortunately, was probably as bad as it gets.

The Rockets defense overall wasn’t horrible, but what made it impossible to stage a comeback was the ease by which Gasol and Bynum were grabbing rebounds and getting easy putbacks. I have no idea why it took so long for the Lakers to figure out that’s what they needed to do to hurt the Rockets once Yao went down. Kobe had a quiet game, but the Lakers were in control from the 1st quarter on so Kobe really didn’t need to turn it on. He just chipped in some boards, assists, and a couple of blocks.

Artest was pretty bad – many of his shots were way off the mark – but as the Rockets became desperate to score just their first field goal, guys were forcing up shots they don’t normally take. The bad shooting was contagious – Brooks was off, Battier was a no-show, Scola was off, and so on. There was nothing good about the Rockets offense except maybe that no one got hurt.

So the season ends on a bad note, but this Rockets team gave us something to cheer for when no one exepcted them to even be in the 2nd round taking on the Lakers. The young guys really should benefit from this postseason run and hopefully we can get our guys healthy and pick up a few extra pieces to contend again next season.

Rockets take Game 6, 95-80

There it is again – a Lakers score under 100 and another W for the Rockets. Just when everyone had written in the Lakers vs. Nuggets on Sunday, the Rockets took the white-out to them, scratched out Nuggets Game 1 and stamped Rockets Game 7 on the tickets.

All I can really say about Game 6 is “wow, the Rockets stepped up big time,” and “wow, the Lakers do suck.” Regarding the former, Scola’s 1st quarter was so sorely needed not just for his points, but to keep the Lakers honest by making them account for a low post presence. The Lakers apparently forgot to set their alarm to wake up and start playing as they looked weak falling behind 27-15 after 1. They managed 15 only because Jordan Farmar came in to close the quarter with 2 3 pointers. This whole series, I actually wanted to see Derek Fisher out on the floor as much as possible so Farmar would be parked on the bench.

The Rockets could have pushed the lead out to 20, but a couple of bad shots and turnovers toward the end of the 2nd quarter were fortunately erased by a near-turnover lucky bounce that found Aaron Brooks open for a 3. The Rockets rolled into the half up 52-36.

Then the 3rd quarter started and the Rockets went through an offensive drought. All ball movement stopped, no shots were falling, and the Lakers steadily chipped away. Enter Carl Landry. Actually, re-enter. Anyway, I was calling for a lineup change in the 3rd while the Rockets were struggling and Adelman finally made the call to Carl with 6 minutes left in the 3rd and Rockets lead down to 2, 54-52.

Right off the bat, Landry scored a layup and-1 for a 3 point play. He brought energy back onto the court and the shots started falling again. Scola nailed a 20 footer at the buzzer that pushed the Rockets lead back up to 9 at 74-65. That shot was huge because it gave us the momentum back that had swung to the Lakers earlier in the quarter.

The 4th quarter was the Landry and Brooks show. Those 2 guys looked like they were in an extra gear that no one else on the floor had. The Lakers were within single digits a couple of times early in the 4th and it sure looked to me that Kobe, who got some rest to open the quarter, was primed to take over the game. That didn’t happen. Aaron Brooks took over the game, instead, starting with 2 straight buckets that pushed the lead to 13 with 3 minutes left. AB was dismantling the Lakers defense off the pick and roll. He was going anywhere he wanted, when he wanted, and getting excellent looks going down the stretch and the Rockets never looked back as they rolled to a 95-80 victory.

Regarding the latter (“the Lakers do suck”), Kobe had to work hard for his 32, Gasol only added 14 when he should be dominating down in the post, Farmar contributed, but everyone else on their roster was terrible. Ariza realized he was Ariza and went 2-6. Bynum who started and should be controlling the paint with his height scored 0 – zero, zip, zilch, nada. My man, Derek Fisher, went 1-7 for 2 points. Odom played ok, but gave them almost nothing offensively with just 8 points. Walton 0-5, Brown 0-3, Vujacic 1-3. So many players, so few points. Unless Kobe goes for 50+, Lakers aren’t going anywhere unless these role players step up.

Meanwhile, the Rockets give themselves a chance to play and to see what happens in Game 7 on Sunday. The series is there for the taking, Rockets! Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!

Rockets lose Game 5 by 40

Wow, that was a horrible showing by the Rockets. The game was maybe close for the first 6 minutes while the Rockets were still putting up a fight, but the Lakers were drawing fouls on the Rockets front line and that was the first step in a recipe for disaster. Mix in a bunch of sloppy turnovers and horrid shooting from every player wearing a red jersey and you get a 40 point loss (118-78).

The Lakers did change their approach offensively by going to the post – Gasol and Bynum – early which, to me, was what they should have been doing since the start even with Yao on the floor. Without any Rockets post presence, the Lakers defense adjusted to help on dribble drives and close on outside shooters. Not every Rockets shot was contested, but those that weren’t clanged hard off the iron. The poor shooting was contagious, infecting every player on the Rockets roster, and I watched the entirety of the game only to see if the bench guys could get it to within 20. Didn’t happen.

So now the Rockets go back home and at least get one more shot at it in Game 6. The Rockets best chance to win is if they can play extremely well defensively as we just don’t have the guns to win a shootout. I dread the image of Kobe and the Lakers celebrating a series victory in the Toyota Center. C’mon, Rockets! Let’s send this series back to L.A.