Sunday, May 17, 2009

Houston Game 6 thoughts

You have to start asking the question whether this team has the heart to win a championship. Unless there is something going on behind the scenes that we do not see, there is no logical explanation for some of their performances in this series.

First quarter:
* Five turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes, leading to a 10-1 start for Houston.

* We are not going inside. Since that is what led to last game's blowout, you would think it might be worth a try, no?

* 5 1/2 minutes in and it's 17-1. Scola is dominating the entire Lakers front line, especially Pau, who seems particularly unengaged here.

* After 8 minutes of play the lead has swelled to 21-3. That's not great defense, but the problem here is clearly the offense. Just way, way too many jump shots, with Kobe, Fisher and Pau the primary culprits.

* Finally some recovery, but 27-15 at the quarter puts them in a big hole and has the crowd energized.

Second quarter:
* The defense, in particular activity with the hands, is picking up.

* Lowry is still abusing Brown, that just doesn't work for us.

* 20-8 points in the paint so far, unacceptable.

* We had cut the 18 point lead down to 8, but they have now stretched it back out to 42-25.

* Kobe just picked up a mystery technical, that would be his fifth of the playoffs with two more to go before a suspension if it stands (it did not, the league rescinded it).

* 3 fouls on Hayes, pound it inside!

* 52-36 at the half. Kobe has taken 16 shots. These two facts may be related.

Third quarter:
* A 9-0 start gets us back to within 52-45 pretty quickly.

* The run stretches to 16-2, and the Houston lead is now only 54-52.

* But Houston responds with an 8-2 run of their own, 62-54.

* At least Kobe is getting to the line some now, and he's 8/8 when he gets there.

* The quarter ends 74-65. We let a golden opportunity get away there, a little more and it could have mushroomed like Game 4 in Utah, but not to be.

Fourth quarter:
* Sasha was just benched, and deservedly so, for taking a quick 20 foot jumper off a curl. That's just not a smart play, even before you consider his massive slump.

* We are now 5/20 on 3's (it would end up 5/23).

* As much as Scola dominated early on, Landry has dominated the second half; he is now 6/6.

* And we had held Brooks pretty much in check until the late third and fourth, when he begun to torch Farmar and the help was not much, uhh, help.

* A 15 point quarter, and 28 points since closing to 52-54 midway through the third. This game was clearly about poor offense, and more decisionmaking than execution. You just have to attack the paint against this undersized team, firing up long jumpers is stupid, losing basketball.

And so it's on to a seventh game. This is a very tough opponent, but there is no excuse for it betting this far, and even if it's won as expected this has greatly diminished this team's chances in the next series against Denver, much less a FInals against Cleveland. They had better rediscover that fire inside, and not just for 24-48 minutes at a time either.

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