The Rockets came into the Staples Center for the second round playoff series after losing the season series to the Lakers 4-0. The team knew what they had to do to secure a victory and the game plan worked to perfection.
The Rockets immediately established Yao Ming in the low post. The Lakers started Andrew Bynum who immediately had to exit the game with foul trouble. The Rockets were the more physical team and simply outmuscled the Lakers.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to the Lakers so they should be able to make the adjustment. Several times, playoff basketball comes down to making adjustments during a game as well as from game to game.
Neither team shot well in this game. Houston played with a sense of urgency and the Lakers did not.
The Lakers were horrible from behind the three-point line, shooting 2-for-18, their fifth worse performance in that area since 1996. But what had to be the most disappointing part and the main reason for the loss was their performance from the free throw line, shooting 12-for-19 (63 percent).
Simply put, had the basics been covered and the Lakers could have back the seven missed free throws, we’re talking about a one point game towards the end of regulation and with Kobe Bryant wearing a gold jersey you'd have to like your chances in that situation.
The Rockets got a quality effort from everyone and took a three point lead, was established in the first quarter with them into the locker room at halftime.
The NBA playoffs usually come down to a game of runs and the Lakers got close on more than one occasion in the second half, but every time that happened the Rockets had a run or their own.
All of the people thought that the Lakers would sweep the Rockets have to rethink their strategies at this point. This was a game that the Lakers could’ve easily won by playing better.
A lot of credit has to go to the Rockets for doing what was necessary to secure a win. Los Angeles now needs to regroup make adjustments and play Game Two with a sense of urgency.
The Lakers had their opportunities and were presented with several clean wide open looks that they failed to knockdown. The Lakers have to step their game up and at the same level that the Rockets are playing. Game Two will be on 5/6/09 on TNT.
Photo Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times