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LIVE – Lakers vs. Rockets: Game 5 – 1st Quarter

This is your live GameThread. Comments update automatically. While you wait for the Lakers game to start, weigh in on the current Orlando-Boston game, and your predictions for tonight's Game 5 in L.A. In the meantime, a few thoughts...

The Lakers have wavered between seriously underacheiving and pretty damn good throughout the playoffs. On Monday, they dropped to a new low: disgusting and horribly pathetic.

Throughout, I have been slow to jump to conclusions, suggesting that we hold judgment until the Lakers face a foe that is talented enough to motivate them. The Rockets seemed to have become that challenging foe, and the Lakers seemed to have responded – until Houston lost Yao Ming, and the Lakers again lost their motivation.

More after the jump...

Even in the face of such an embarrassing and completely acceptable loss, we have been slow to sound the alarm. Over the last couple days, we've offered all sorts of different perspectives – from those that say the Lakers don't deserve to win a championship this year, to thoe that say their struggles make them perfect championship candidates. Tonight will be an early indication.

Tonight, they have no excuse. One can only assume that they won't twice make the mistake of assuming that an injury-depleted Rockets team will simply hand them the game. Of motivation, there should be an abundance. Their backs are against the wall, and they no longer have the luxury of hitting the snooze button on their playoff wakeup call. After Monday, if they don't "bring it" tonight, then there will be legitimate reason to start questioning this team's championship hopes (and much more).

Tonight, I expect to see the Lakers team from Game 4 in Utah, and Games 2 and 3 of this series. But only time (a few hours, to be precise) will tell. As Gils_Keloids would say: That's why they play the games.

The Lakers play in a couple hours, but the Magic-Celtics game is starting now. Weigh in with your thoughts on that game, as well as the pivotal Lakers game to come.

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