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Game 4 Recap — The View from Houston...

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Okay, Laker fans, we already got a start on this recap during the game thread. Let's review:

1. "Disgraceful. Shameful. Emabarrassing..."

2. "Lazy. Careless. Half-hearted. Weak. Disinterested. Putrid..."

Shall we continue?

Abysmal. Awful. Appalling. Abominable. Abhorrent. Brutal and Butt-ugly. Dire and Deplorable.  Horrific. Heinous. Lame and Lamentable. Pointless. Pathetic. Shabby. Shitty. Ghastly. Gruesome. Gross....

Offense? Offensive!  A nauseating, repulsive, vomitous, gangrenous, lousy, crummy, crappy, dreadful steaming heap of excrement. Loathsome...

Defense? Indefensible!  A frightfully lax, sluggish, slow, slovenly, slothful, and completely lethargic non-performance by a pack of underachievers... 

The game? Agonizing and unbearable. Intolerable. Nasty and Foul. Stinky and Sewage-drenched. Brutal. Poisonous....

Beyond that, it was all very perplexing.

It was also Grisly. Vile. Unspeakable. Nightmarish...

But ultimately it was only one game and the Lakers still lead the series, heading home to Staples for what is now a best-of-3. Time for the Lakers to "take their lumps and move along," as PJ told them during a brief pause in the action during the third quarter blowout today.

Now, let's pay a visit to our friends from Texas and see if they agree with all this, shall we?

(More after the jump...)

Click the headlines to read the complete stories...

(1)

Brooks, balanced Rockets stun Lakers to even series

by Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle

Aaron Brooks danced about the middle of the floor, his red-hot right hand raised and held above his head as the 18,313 at Toyota Center roared at levels they have rarely reached before.

Brooks had just thrown himself hard to the court in pursuit of a loose ball, tearing it away from Trevor Ariza before getting up to nail a 3-pointer for a 27-point Rockets lead that inspired even Phil Jackson to halt things with a timeout, the only way the Lakers could stop the Rockets all afternoon.

Reeling hours earlier from the loss of center Yao Ming for the season, the Rockets took it out on the Lakers, dominating the game from the start to take a stunning 99-87 win to send the Western Conference semifinals back to Los Angeles tied, two games apiece. * * *

The Rockets had scored easily from the start and before the Lakers could mount any sort of second-half rally, Brooks took over. He made 6 of 7 shots in the third quarter, scoring 17 of the Rockets' 29 points in the quarter.

That sent the game to the fourth quarter with the Rockets leading by 29, with Lamar Odom through with back spasms and Bryant held to just 7 of 17 shooting through 29 minutes. He never took another shot. * * *

 

(2)

Kobe Gettin' Worked

by Clutch, front page of ClutchFans.com

No Tracy McGrady. No Yao Ming. No Dikembe Mutombo. Ron Artest shot 4-19 from the floor. Lights out, 3-1 Lakers and on to Game 5, right?

Not so fast. Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier lit the Lakers up like a Christmas tree as Houston never trailed in a 99-87 Game 4 rout to even up the series 2-2. Brooks scored 34 points and Battier 23 as the pair combined to hit 9-19 from long range. Chuck Hayes had a huge impact defensively, helping the Rockets build a 29-point lead (not a misprint) heading into the fourth... but the Lakers did adjust and leave Hayes all alone in the final period, helping them trim the lead to 10.

 

(3)

The Houston Rockets - the most resilient team you will ever meet.

by GrungeDave, The Dream Shake

No Tracy McGrady?

No Dikembe Mutombo?

No Yao Ming?

Hey... what else is new? The Rockets steal the ball from the Lakers on the opening possession. Ron Artest (in one of the few instances he actually put the ball in the basket) converts the fast break layup.

From there... the Rockets were off and running.

Shane Battier outplayed Kobe Bryant. Even on the offensive end. Battier started out 5-5 and the Rockets took control early. Only Rick Adelman's decision to play the prevent offense throughout the fourth quarter kept the final margin of victory from being 20+. Thanks for that, Sleepy.

Aaron Brooks finished with a career high 34 points. Battier chipped in with a monster offensive game. Chuck Hayes and Luis Scola got seemingly every rebound there was to get. If you had told me before the game that Von Wafer would only play 7 minutes and score only 4 points I would have predicted doom. Fortunately, I would have been wrong. Way wrong.

Rockets coast to victory. 99-87. Series once again tied. 2-2. * * *

 

(4)

Aaron Brooks

posted by "Phillyrocket" to ClutchFans.com

You notice when AB plays well the Rockets win? Problem is he only has a good game every other game.

I was thinking about this during the game: if you took the two best players off of every other team in the league and made them play the Rocks would dominate. Our depth is amazing.

AB/Battier/Hayes/Scola/Artest with a bench of Lowry/Wafer/Landry/Cook just kicked the crap out of a FULLY HEALTHY Lakers squad.

Can you imagine if you took Kobe and Gasol off of the Lakers?

HA! It would be a sweep. Seriously the Lakers have no guts, IF they make it to the next round the Nuggest will crush them.

 

(5)

Scattered stats and thoughts on Game 4

by Tom Martin, The Dream Shake

No recap today - just a bunch of random tidbits from the Mother's Day Miracle.

How did we pull it off in such abusive fashion?

Aaron Brooks showed what he could do when allowed to do it. He often passes up shots that we would like for him to take. Today, he took those shots without feeling any pressure. Pretty straightfoward.

The Rockets must have read my post from two nights ago, as they decided to pass to Shane Battier. * * *

Consider today as a passing of the torch. Out with the old, in with the new. The Great Wall is gone, so send in the steel reinforcements. Chuck Hayes, this is your team now. Good luck.

We only had 10 turnovers! Hooray!

The greatest part about this win is that we did it without much help from Ron Artest. What can we do when he is actually making his shots? * * *

We effectively used the pick and roll game all day long, and that led to a bevy of open shots, open looks, and in general, a whole lot of openess. *  *  *

L.A. had 54 points after three quarters. Insane. *  *  *

The final score meant nothing. We won this game by about twenty five points. *  *  *

We came out with more heart, more energy, and with less pressure on us than Los Angeles did. The home crowd was definitely a factor - we obviously had the most adrelanine pumping through our veins.

That said, a win in L.A. would be asking a lot from this bunch. But who am I to doubt them now? All I can say is: Believe.

You have no reason to do otherwise.

 

(6)

Reasons to be Optimistic: A Renewed Hope

by "UHoustonFan" - posted to The Dream Shake

* * *
The Houston Rockets were 4-5 point underdogs in their home arena against the vaunted Lakers today and completely blew L.A. out of the building, leading by as much as 29 points at time. The Lakers failed to play any sort of legitimate defense and their leader Kobe Bryant shot a dismal 7-17 from the field for only 15 points. Unfortunately that's not going to last, but I now feel as though we will have lots of confidence going into Game 5 at the Staples Center. (I just hope Jack Nicholson doesn't give Kobe head go postal on us)

With that said, we have reasons to be optimistic for Game 5. They are as follows:

-Ron Artest was AWFUL offensively. He kept clanking 3's off the back of the rim (perhaps he just shot with a little too much edge, a little too much emotion) as Ron-Ron went 0-6 from 3-point land and 4-19 overall. Just like Kobe will bounce back on Tuesday, I expect Ron to do the same.

-Von Wafer only scored 4 points on few minutes, but thankfully we didn't need him much today on offense, nor Artest.

-We all miss Yao terribly, obviously you can't replace a player of his caliber, HOWEVER...

Now that Yao is out, we'll no longer have to worry about struggling to get the ball in to him. We have so many speed players that will be able to give the Laker Defense fits. (like they did today.) If Brooks and Battier can repeat today's performance while Artest and Wafer step up as well, say hello to the Western Conference Finals. * * *

 

(7)

Lakers Confess to a Tepid Start: Jackson blasts defense; Bryant cites team's focus

by Brian McTaggart, Houston Chronicle/Chron.com

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson made sure to warn his team prior to Sunday's game at Toyota Center not to take the Rockets lightly despite Yao Ming being out for the rest of the series.

Jackson understood the Rockets had played well without Yao in stretches during the series and knew they had dealt with adversity, so his team's 99-87 loss to even the Western Conference semifinal series at two games each wasn't a shock.

"There's absolutely no surprise," Jackson said.

The Lakers couldn't establish themselves inside despite the absence of Yao and got poor performances from their guards. Kobe Bryant scored 15 points in 34 minutes on 7-of-17 field-goal shooting.

Bryant was adamant the Lakers didn't underestimate the Rockets.

"I just don't think we started the game with the right energy or the right focus or sense of urgency," he said. "You know that they are going to come out and play hard. They are not going to back down or go away. We just didn't come out with the sense of urgency I would have liked." * * *

"We weren't sharp to start the game," [Laker Point Guard Derek] Fisher said. "We had early turnovers and the defensive rotations weren't sharp, weren't there. It seemed to snowball from there, and we couldn't recover." * * *

 

** ADDENDA **

(8)

Who Knew? Rockets win Game 4

by Brody, Rockets Buzz

* * *
It's not uncommon for the Rockets to perform better without their star. After losing Tracy McGrady earlier this year, they reaffirmed their commitment to stout defense and interior-driven offense with great success.

This time was different. The Rockets didn't alter their game plan or intentionally push the pace, instead they waited on the Lakers to make the defensive adjustments that never materialized.

With four or five players ringing the perimeter at once, Aaron Brooks did what Rockets fans have been waiting for; he ran circles around defenders and dished and scored at will. His ball-handling was phenomenal, his speed was unmatched, and his vision was clear as Yao Ming and his 7' 6" frame rehabbed from the bench.

Clearing the paint for a player with Brooks' quickness cannot be underestimated. Shooters were left open all afternoon as the Lakers defense collapsed on the penetration, then failed to rotate with the ball as it was worked around the perimeter.

Capitalizing on Laker miscues and continuing their hot shooting will be just as pivotal in Game 5 as it was in Game 4.

However, should that touch disappear and the Lakers control Brooks, the Rockets will be forced to adapt yet again, but given their past experience that shouldn't be a problem. * * *

 

(9)

Rockets v. Lakers (Game 4): The Lob Seen ‘Round the Country

by Septimus Rex, Fourth and Fifty.com

Is it too soon to say "I told you so?" Well, I did, so there.

I thought that the Rockets would be able to steal Game Four away from the Lakers today, even without Yao Ming. Why? Because so many people would be picking against them and they would play a younger, shorter, faster line-up that would be fueled by emotion (and mescaline the desire to prove the country wrong). Did I think that would translate to a three quarter ass-stomping of the Kobe's Kids? Hayllz NO!

"How did this happen?" you might be asking yourself. Take a seat on Septy's lap and I'll tell you a little story (with informative bullet points!):

* The Random Guy usually likes to say "fuck you, suit." And by "usually" I mean to me whenever it's deemed that I'm cramping his style, holding him back, keeping him from being an internet nuisance, or pretty just when he disagrees with me (which is always). But in the case of the Rockets, it was the suits on the side-line giving inspiration. Having Dikembe, Yao and T-Mac on the sideline was a motivator not a deterrent to victory.

* Shane Battier's motto for the first quarter, "I. Can't. Miss. Feed me the rock, I'm hunnnnggry." Battier made his first four shots, and finished 11 of 22 from the field and a perfect 6 for 6 from the free-throw line. That's impressive. For the first time in the series it should have been Battier looking back at Kobe saying "you can't guard me" receiving the late technical foul (like game two). We all know he's too classy for that though.

* Ron Artest could not buy a bucket. This turned out to be a great thing since he didn't seem compelled to take over the game given Yao's absence. The ridiculous Houston lead also helped in this. I can only imagine what would have happened had the Rockets been involved in a close game and Ron-ron jacking up trey's off the dribble. Yikes.

* Aaron Brooks continues to prove Fourth and Fifty wrong. We're I'm man enough to admit that I was wrong in criticizing the Rockets trade of Skip to my Lou. Thirty-four points including the ridiculous alley-oop to end the third quarter (shown above)? Yes, thank you very much Mr. Brooks. Is there anything I can do for you Mr. Brooks? Do you want to date my sister Mr. Brooks? Go right ahead Mr. Brooks.

* Kobe Bryant was held to his lowest point total of the playoffs, 15 in 35 minutes. He also didn't make it to the free-throw line. This is an anomaly. It will not, I repeat, will not happen again. Beware. The last Houston needs is a pissed off Kobe on their hands (with the home court referees behind him). * * *

 

(10)

Alley-Oooops.


 

 

The Bottom Line:

1. Hey, we knew we were gonna win this one all along! No problems!

2. Okay, so you caught us — maybe we didn't actually call that result... Regardless, it's now a short series and the depleted Rockets have shown they can play with these guys and have momentum... Anything can happen!

3. Series tied... Kiss us, Lakers! Kobe — tell me how my ass tastes!