On Wednesday, the sixth of May, a seemingly high-flying Houston Rockets team was downed in a humbling 111-98 defeat to an almost impeccable Lakers performance. Ex-MVP, Kobe Bryant, torched his opposition for a scintillating 40 points, leading his supporting cast to a crucial Game two victory.
Yao Ming was unable to make an impact in Hollywood last night, opting to air his dismal repeat performance from the first round, Game two in Portland. The entire Houston cast were unable to pull out a decent effort in this intense playoff blockbuster series, which is now tied at one a piece.
But every cloud has a silver lining, does it not? Houston, en-route to a devastating loss, sent a message, that may prove vital in acting out the remainder of the series.
In a game where five technicals were issued to adrenaline filled players, Shane Battier summed this message up excellently during a brief confrontation with the cocky Mr. Bryant. Bryant dispatched his usual arrogant and sarcastic abuse saying,
"Don't worry, way to keep fighting," as Battier walked on, he stopped, turned and replied, "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere."
Although the quick witted Battier fills me with a new sense of pride and hope, his on-court effort did not exactly speak volumes of his ability. He racked up a measly six points, one block, and a board.
In 28 minutes of action (due to foul trouble) Yao posted 12 points and 10 boards in a losing effort.
Meanwhile, Artest had a huge performance, with a team high 25 points and 5 assists, before he was ejected seven minutes into the third quarter.
Artest will most likely face a cruel and unjust suspension, while the "constant flailing elbows" Bryant will not.
Houston's bench was pivotal in staying in the game for the first three quarters, as Carl Landry brought the energy to produce a playoff career high 21 points.
Realistically, the game was all but over after the opening 12 minutes of play, in which the Lakers shot a red hot 73 percent, racking up a stunning 39 points.
The uniform suffocating "D", which was the Rockets' bread and butter almost all season was MIA (missing in action), so too was their offensive spark, as they shot an anemic 35 percent in the second quarter, allowing Los Angeles to take over the game.
Now the series takes a move to the Rockets' home turf in Game Three, and since the calendar flipped to 2009, Houston will show why their (almost) impenetrable fortress, is the Toyota Center, is crucial to their remarkable success, with a conference best 27-4.
Although Houston may be emotionally weakened by this crippling defeat, they will not roll over and bow out just because the papers and the state of California said they would. The credits are not rolling on this Houston season yet, but will there be a fairytale ending?
In the immortal words of Tupac Shakur "Keep Ya Head Up", because Houston, and Shane Battier....
Aren't goin' anywhere.