That certainly wasn't the start the Lakers were looking for. They came out flat, rusty, whatever you'd like to call it and the Rockets played great, especially on the defensive end. When the Lakers needed a basket, the Rockets came up with a stop en route to a Game 1 victory that few expected, but certainly ratchets up the series as we head to Game 2.
We Can Chalk Some Of It Up To Rust- While it's definitely not THE reason the Lakers lost, they certainly were a little bit off, especially early on and that can be chalked off to not having playing a game in seven days. You can practice all you want and do so at a very high level, but even the highest practice level isn't up to level of a game, let alone a playoff game. Yeah, the Lakers struggled, but at least a portion of it (you judge how much) is due to something that won't be a factor for the rest of the series.
Rebounding- The Rockets are a good rebounding team, but the Lakers outrebounded Houston despite missing far more shots. LA was able to grab a dozen offensive boards, two times as many as the Rockets. The Lakers didn't do a very good job stopping the Rockets from scoring, but at least they held Houston to one shot on the occasion the Lakers did get a stop.
Jordan Farmar- Sure, it was only three minutes, but that's three more minutes than he's played since Game 2 versus Utah and guess what...he looked good. Farmar knocked down a three, his only shot, and played good defense. He was also the only Laker to finish in the positive column of the plus/minus. Because it was three minutes, we can't count on this going forward, but it gives us a glimmer of hope in a player many had written off this postseason.
Andrew Bynum- It only took all of what, 150 seconds before he picked up his second foul and found the bench? So yeah, that was less than stellar, but he did play 15 minutes, showed confidence on the offensive end while scoring 10 points and when not picking up fouls, made Yao work for his points. It wasn't the greatest performance we've ever seen, but fouls aside, it was a good performance and showed that he could make some form of an impact in the series.
When The Other Team Is Making A Run, Get The Ball To Kobe- So Kobe wasn't at his best tonight, but how many Lakers were in Game 1? At the end of the day, Kobe is still the Lakers best player and the guy whose hands you want the ball in. So, when the Rockets were in the midst of a 7-0 run that turned a one point lead into a six point deficit that changed the game, why couldn't Kobe get a touch, let alone a shot?
Can Someone Take Advantage Of A Six Inch Height Advantage?- With Mutombo out, the Rockets' backup center is Chuck Hayes. That's 6'6'' Chuck Hayes. He was guarding 7' Pau Gasol and the Lakers didn't recognize this mismatch at first, then when they did, Pau couldn't take advantage of it. He was muscled out from his position and couldn't even draw a double team, let alone score. Andrew Bynum didn't fare much better, tossing up an awful looking jump hook. If Chuck Hayes is going to be able to shut down Pau and Bynum then the Lakers might as well just give up now.
Free Throw Shooting- 12-19 (63.2%) from the free throw line is very poor and even worse when you consider the Rockets' 86.2% and who missed the Lakers' free throws. Kobe was 3-5 and the biggest culprit, Lamar Odom, was 1-6. The Rockets are an excellent defensive team and will make you work for everything you get. The worst thing you can do is put in all that work, then get to the line and come up empty.
Three Point Shooting- The Lakers shot 2-18 from three. That's 11.1% Farmar knocked down his only three point attempt and Kobe made one (while missing six). Ariza and Fisher were each 0-4 and Sasha was 0-2. The Lakers should be able to control the paint with multiple big men who can score inside as opposed to the Rockets' one, but they will still have to knock down a shot from the perimeter.
Derek Fisher- Fish is 35 and his legs show it. He doesn't have the foot speed he once did and as a result, is beat consistently on defense, but that's nothing new. His leadership skills, command of the offense and perimeter shooting usually make up for it though. In Game 1 he couldn't knock down a shot and wasn't active enough to create space for others. If that's the case, why is he still out on the floor? I'm not going to harp on Fish's inability to stay in front of Brooks because he just can't. Psychically, he can't do it and theres nothing he can do about it. So if Fish isn't going to make a contribution on the offensive end, why not go with a guy like Brown or Farmar who can at least bother Brooks a bit?
Lamar Odom- Odom's numbers and output weren't awful. He did have nine points and five rebounds, which isn't too bad, but most concerning was Odom's inability to find his niche. Where exactly is Odom going to make an impact versus the Rockets? He got to the offensive glass a couple times, but not with any consistency. He couldn't get any easy buckets in transition or on cuts and he didn't do much off the bounce. So Odom didn't have a major impact in Game 1 of the series, but what we still don't know is how exactly Odom is going to make an impact.