Welcome back Andrew Bynum. And Lamar Odom. And Trevor Ariza. And Pau Gasol. And the rest of the Lakers for that matter. Today was the response that all of LakerNation needed to see out of this team, serving the Rockets a taste of their own medicine with a punishing 40 point victory.
Now, if you're wondering what was a bigger statement, the Rockets victory in Game 4 or the Lakers in Game 5, the answer is Houston hands down. The Lakers aren't expected to win this big, but they should be beating the Yao-less Rockets by a comfortable margin. That's why I don't see this as a statement game so much as a flexing of their muscles. We all know that the Lakers can pour it on after a loss or during a big game, but the question of can they do it without the extra motivation remains. Game 6 will provide an opportnity to answer this and can serve as the true statement game heading into the Conference FInals.
Finally, some food for thought. It's always said that good defense will lead to good offense, but as Doug Collins (correctly) pointed out during the broadcast:
"The Lakers defense seems to be fueled by their offense. When they are making baskets, they take that energy to the defensive end and are much more active and get in the passing lanes."
I think that this is a perfect explanation for why the Lakers have so much trouble fighting back when the other team jumps out to a large lead like Houston did in Game 4. Defense isn't streaky, but offense is, and the Lakers are an offense first team.
Go Purple & Gold!