The Most Physical Game in the Playoffs, or the Worst Played One?

Angelo CerilliCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers lays the ball up in front of Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Blood, gore, sweat, and maybe some crying, something you would expect from a graphic movie, or a Steelers vs Ravens game, but to my shock I realized that the Rockets and the Lakers really do mean business.

Before today I didn't know it was legal to elbow, knee, and injure players almost at will in the NBA. I watch games like this and wonder whatever happened to the days when two teams could play a physical game without too many whistles being blown where both the teams played clean basketball.

I have never seen someone get so physically demolished and not get any calls the way Shane Battier did. The kid had to go back to the locker room and get four stitches on him. Then later in the game Yao probably almost injured his knee, again.

This was a very well played game right down to the very end. It was close, although the Rockets did have the lead almost the entire game. However, there has to be a line where physical, clean basketball turns into dirty rough-housing, and I believe the officials didn't realize this.

Shane Battier, before he got elbowed in the face, also got kneed in what looked to be his torso and got elbowed on the top of his head and or face with no foul being called. Now if this wasn't intentional I would be willing to overlook this, no harm no foul as the old saying goes. However, what makes me believe this was intentional was after Kobe  initially kneed Battier, which for all purpose could have been done to get his balance, Kobe followed that up with an elbow to Battier. But it just proved how unwilling referees might be to make a foul call.

Now I'm not saying Kobe is a bad person and deserves a suspension, however, a foul call was in order. I understand the concept of a physical basketball game, but there is a difference between physical and dirty. This kind of action in the NBA should not be tolerated in the interest of players health.

Call me crazy, but I enjoy watching older games where it was physical but at the same time the players respected each other and the referees were more willing to call fouls. This was one I believe the referees messed up.

As we go into game two it makes me wonder what is to come from the Lakers-Rockets series and how foul calling, or lack of it, may decide the end result of this series. However, I believe that this isn't fair to either team as the one that loses will probably be the team that physically destroys the other team to the point of injury to almost all the starters. The bench may in fact decide the end result of this series if this kind of dirty playing continues without any consequences.