The Lakers made a definitive statement by bouncing back and winning Game Two of the series. That statement was confirmed on May 8 as the Lakers took care of business, came out and played with a sense of urgency from the tip-off in Houston.
Los Angeles was playing this game without starting point guard Derek Fisher, but the Lakers and their fans got a glimpse of the future with Jordan Farmar starting. Led by a strong start by Kobe Bryant, who had 11 points in the first quarter and set the tone, Los Angeles started the game active and aggressive.
Both teams played well in the first quarter and almost played even the score was 30-28 at the end of the quarter. The Lakers got into a rhythm on both ends of the court, shot 60-percent from the field and had only one turnover.
The Lakers understanding what was at stake started to display excellent ball movement and excellent player movement and literally outplayed the home team. Los Angeles was able to knock down shots and started building momentum.
The Lakers gained the upper hand after the lead changed hands in the second quarter but the Rockets were right there at halftime with the score 50-48.
The Lakers took control of the game in the second half by continuing to outscore the Rockets and playing stellar defense. The Lakers held the Rockets to 14 points in the quarter on 6-of-25 shooting from the field.
The Lakers continued to increase their lead which was 71-62 until Kobe Bryant’s 33-foot three point shot put an exclamation point on the Lakers dominance in this game and on the series in the final three seconds of the third quarter for a 74-62 lead.
The Lakers maintained their lead by outplaying the Rockets despite the 32 points scored in the quarter by Houston this game was already over. The Lakers scored 34 points in the quarter to seal the deal for a 108-94 win. The Rockets got 25 points from Ron Artest before he was ejected for a flagrant foul on Pau Gasol.
Yao Ming had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds; he also finished the game with a sprained ankle that could unfortunately affect his performance for the rest of the series.
The difference in this game was the Lakers defense, forcing the Rockets into a poor shooting night and 17 huge turnovers. Another factor in Game Three was that the Lakers shot 55-percent from behind the arc going 11-of-20.
Kobe Bryant scored 30+ points in the playoffs for the 54th time; he has scored 3,928 career post-season points and passed Larry Bird (3,897) in the process.
He had another stellar playoff performance filling out the stat sheet with 33 points (11-of-28), four-for-six from behind the arc, seven-for-eight from the free throw line and three huge blocks while leading his team to a crucial win that ended the Rockets nine-game home winning streak.
Kobe showing excellent leadership led his team to a big win and showed something that we already know he had in his arsenal the ability to score and defend as well as take over a game.
Jordan Farmar played an excellent all-around game in 32 minutes he had 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and one blocked shot and most importantly only one turnover. Including the effort of Shannon Brown, the Lakers point guards scored 20 points.
The Lakers received an excellent performance from everyone as all of their starters were in double digits and also received a contribution from the reserves.
The win gives the Lakers a two-one advantage in the series going into Game Four on 5/10 that might be played with an injured Yao Ming. The Lakers have won six of the seven games that they’ve played against the Rockets this season. Game Four will be on ABC.
Photo Credit: Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times