Kobe Bryant, Lakers Defeat Rockets in Western Showdown

John GrahamCorrespondent INovember 10, 2008

Finishing up what may be a playoff preview with a final score of 111-82 makes a huge statement. But, what statement is it?

Are the Rockets as good as their roster suggests? Are they just not looking for a team rhythm? Did their play makers just not put on their best performance?

Or is it the contrary?

Are the Lakers better than everyone thought?  Are the Lakers the best team in the NBA now?

While all of these questions are surely being debated, one must also ask: Does one game against two playoff bound squads really speak loud enough to answer any of these questions?

I say "Yes!"

There is no question that the Rockets did not bring their best performance against the Lakers. While they certainly started off hot, the lack of performance from Yao and McGrady led to their eventual meltdown. With only 15 points between the two of them, it is clear why they could not keep up with the Lakers.

But, you can't take anything away from the Lakers. They played top notch defense and held Houston's superstars to sub-par numbers. The Lakers were a complete team on both offense and defense and virtually unstoppable for the majority of the game.

So what have we learned about these two contenders in the West so far this season?

The first question we can answer is "Are the Rockets as good as their roster suggests?"

The answer is absolutely! While the Rockets are only 4-3 so far this season, we have still seen a lot from them. They have the talent both on and off the bench, but have not had the desired results due to a lack of in-game rhythm. 

Also, we really have not seen enough from guys like McGrady and Yao to bring this team to the peak of its potential. So basically every question listed about the Rockets has been answered; still, we haven't learned anything about what this team can accomplish.

While the roster, team rhythm, and playmaker performances are not at their best, what we must remember is that the talent is there. 

The Rockets have all the tools they need to do great things this season. Quite frankly, their record and recent results have not done them justice. Fortunately, with a lot of season left and time to improve and adapt to their new players and strategies, the Rockets should be a different animal at the end of the season.

As far as the Lakers, they are just that good. Starting 5-0 and showing no signs of slowing down, they're looking like a championship caliber team and a force to be reckoned with. As long as they can stay away from injuries and keep their momentum going, I really do not see anything or anyone putting a stop to this franchise. 

Honestly, I know that it is bold to say it now but the Lakers, in my opinion, are the best team in basketball. As long as they stay healthy, I do not see any team in the East putting a stop to this power house of the West.

It's early and it's bold, but after the way the Lakers have started this season, it is hard to find a team that can beat them.

The Rockets, Hornets, and Jazz are tough, but with one playoff preview behind us, it is much easier to recognize the true power of the Lakers among their Western Conference contenders.

With all that being said and the questions answered, the Lakers are the toughest team in the West. It is going to take a top notch performance to beat this team, especially in a playoff series. 

The Rockets and other teams are good enough to beat them. But, in order to do so, they will need to be able to turn in phenomenal results on a consistent basis.  Unfortunately for them, if the Lakers stay this hot, they will still be underdogs, even if they are at their best.