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Lakers Win Leaves More Questions than Answers

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  (L-R) Assistant coach Kurt Rambis and head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers react on the bench while taking on the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 12, 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IMay 18, 2009

The story of the Lakers’ Western Conference Semifinal Series with the Houston Rockets was one of fast starts. The team that won the First Quarter won every game in this series.

The story, however, was anything but dramatic.

All but the first game were double-digit blowouts. One could have called it a comedy if one were following the travails of Ron Artest and Derek Fisher in a subplot that might be entitled, The Ejection Follies.

But it was no laughing matter to most Lakers fans. To them, the series felt more like a horror show as they likened the play of their favorites to "Jekyll and Hyde."

But the main plot of this series was a mystery. A mystery that, despite its positive climax for the Lakers, leaves a lot of questions still to be answered.

How can the Lakers play so well at home and so awful on the road when they had the NBA’s best road record during the regular season?

How can a team at full strength like the Lakers have so much trouble with the Rockets who were without their star players, Yao Ming and Tracey McGrady along with Dikimbe Mutumbo?

How can a team that the Lakers swept in four games during the regular season rout the Lakers in three of their seven playoff games?

How can a team that aspires to be NBA Champions play light bulb basketball, turning it on and turning it off as the spirit moves them?

How can a future Hall of Fame coach with nine championship rings allow his team to step on the court and play such uninspired, lackadaisical basketball?

How can the same coach, after an entire season, leave a player on the court who is so unfocused and so lethargic that he cannot make switches on defense, leaves his man wide open for uncontested jump shots, commits turnovers, and fails to stick with the game plan on offense?

While today’s game settled the matchups for the Western Conference Finals, it did not go a long way in answering any of these questions.

If anything...it has just left this viewer even more befuddled.

Actually, a Rockets victory today, though disappointing for Lakers fans, would have at least given some insight into the team’s play. Then we could have said that they just plain quit.

Perhaps these questions will get answered in the sequel, co-starring the Denver Nuggets opening Tuesday night at the Staples Center.

The Nuggets are a far superior team to the Rockets. Playing inspired basketball, the Nuggets are at full strength and have breezed through two playoff series losing only two games by two points each.

Their wins have all been double-digit blowouts except for a controversial last second victory in Dallas.

More importantly, the Nuggets are well rested. They wrapped up their semifinal series with the Mavericks last Wednesday in five games.

Unfortunately, now that the series with the Rockets has ended, I’m afraid that all we can say about the Lakers is, "They’re not who we thought they were."

Then just who are they?

Perhaps Kobe Bryant summed it up best when asked what he had learned about his team from the Rockets series. Bryant simply replied, "That we’re Bipolar."

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