The Lakers came into Game 6 with an opportunity to closeout the Rockets and this series. The key term in that sentence was opportunity and it was apparently a concept lost on the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers put on an excellent performance in Game 5 and all of the momentum built from the success of that game was left in Los Angeles with their defense because I know for a fact that neither made the trip to Houston.
The lessons learned from prior success in the series did nothing for them in this game, partly because it wasn’t put into action.
Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, he is in my opinion the best player in basketball, but he can’t do it by himself. His teammates have to knock down shots.
Houston has something that several other teams don’t; two players that can defend Bryant.
Kobe will get his points, but Shane Battier and Ron Artest will make him work for it. The Lakers are a talented team but entirely too inconsistent from game to game. This was a lazy defensive performance of epic proportions.
I am of the belief that if the Lakers weren’t going to show up they should’ve simply forfeited this game and informed the league office stating they were going to wait to play in Game 7.
The Rockets are a formidable team that plays with a tremendous amount of effort and energy at home, as the Lakers can attest to. The Houston Rockets refused to be closed out at home. This Houston team played with a high energy level and out-worked the Lakers.
Houston was looking to make amends for the beating that the team took in Game 5. They really put it on the Lakers right from the tip off. The Rockets got off to a fast start and the Lakers appeared to be either sleepwalking or walking in quicksand, the start I’m speaking of 21-3.
The Rockets forced the Lakers into a horrible shooting night, as they were 1-11 with three turnovers. The first quarter ended with the Rockets on top 27-15.
The Lakers were immediately playing uphill on the road, again. The Rockets bombarded the Lakers scoring at will playing screen-and-roll basketball and the Lakers never adjusted. The Rockets were on a roll and proceeded to increase their lead, the first half ended with the Rockets on top 52-36.
The Lakers came out of the locker room with a little more resolve as well as a higher energy level and fought their way back into the game with a 7-0 run to start the quarter. The Lakers dramatically cut the lead and got to within a basket when the score was 52-54.
The Lakers put on a furious 16-2 rally to tighten the score, the Rockets re-grouped with a 8-2 run of their own and were able to hold off the Lakers and proceeded to increase their lead to 74-65, at the end of the third quarter.
The Rockets held on and maintained their lead by continuing to play pick-and-roll basketball. Chuck Hayes was the screen on numerous occasions and the Lakers decided to play him as oppose to the more dangerous Aaron Brooks.
The Rockets got a tremendous contribution and effort from the entire team and staved off elimination. Houston forced a series deciding game seven which will be played in Los Angeles on Sunday.