Oh who am I kidding? Aside from a first quarter display of brilliant offensive performance art, Game Two was a taxing experience for viewer and participant alike. Kobe looked five years younger than he did on Monday night, Pau rebounded from a poor Game One with some quietly superb play, and lineup and tactical adjustments succeeded in neutralizing Yao. On the other hand: another.... blown.... lead.
That sound you just heard was my sigh of exasperation.
After a long night of elbows, techs, Von Wafer drama and ejections, my brainpiece is incapable of digesting these events and spitting out a tidy conclusion, so I'll let the numbers do the talking, after the jump.
There were 92 possessions per team tonight, after a 95-possession pace in Game One that was inflated by late fouling. As the teams averaged 91 possessions per game in the regular season, the low 90s may be where we're settling in as an expected range for this series.
Here are the team-level stats from Game Two. Someday I'm going to figure out how to present these in thrilling table format, but given my typical software learning curve that's not likely to happen until the 2011 season. But the boldface is snazzy, right?
- Turnover rate: Lakers - 12%, Rockets - 22%.
- FTA/FGA: Lakers - 0.30, Rockets - 0.39.
- Effective field goal percentage: Lakers - 53%, Rockets - 52%.
- True shooting percentage: Lakers - 57%, Rockets - 56%.
- Offensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 38%, Rockets - 31%.
- Defensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 69%, Rockets - 62%.
- Points per possession: Lakers - 1.21, Rockets - 1.07.
This is what I like to call the carpet-bomb approach to basketball. The Lakers weren't any more efficient than the Rockets in shooting the ball, but they won because they had 12 more shot attempts. That's what winning the turnover and rebounding battles by substantial margins gets you. In this regard, respect is due the Laker bench: they had their share of shaky moments, but they also collected 6 of the team's 10 steals.
There's a story to be told in the way the Lakers are attacking the glass, but I haven't yet figured out what it is. Houston is a strong defensive rebounding team except, apparently, when they're playing L.A. During the regular season, the Rockets allowed their opponents to rebound only about 25% of their misses, good for 8th in the league. In four regular-season games against L.A., however, the Lakers rebounded 31% of their misses, and they're at 33% in this series so far. Nice work tonight by Lamar and Pau, who each collected five boards at that end.
Unfortunately, the Lakers' fouling ways appear not to have been an idiosyncratic artifact of the Utah matchup, as they've persisted at full strength against Houston. Giving your opponent 4 free throw attempts for every 10 field goal attempts is deeply counterproductive.
A few additional, player-level stat bombs for your to mull over:
- Ron Artest continues to be magnificent when he's not spitting rage and getting tossed - 25 points on 17 shooting possessions tonight, on the heels of a 21-on-15 performance in Game One.
- Yao went from 22 shooting possessions in Game One to a mere 7 tonight. His third shooting possession didn't occur until 8:37 left in the game.
- Where was Carl Landry in the 3rd quarter? He was awesome in the second and was something like +16 at halftime, but Adelman stashed him on the bench and didn't reinsert him until over 10 minutes went by in the second half. Much appreciated, coach!
- The Houston PG battery that tormented the Lakers in Game One fell apart tonight. Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry combined for only 13 points on 23 shooting possessions.
- Andrew Bynum: 9 minutes played. Sinking further into the shadows.
I'll close with the composite series-long stats, which I'll update and publish after each game:
- Average pace: 94 possessions.
- Turnover rate: Lakers - 13%, Rockets - 20%.
- FTA/FGA: Lakers - 0.26, Rockets - 0.39.
- Effective field-goal percentage: Lakers - 49%, Rockets - 52%.
- True shooting percentage: Lakers - 52%, Rockets - 57%.
- Offensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 33%, Rockets - 28%.
- Defensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 72%, Rockets - 67%.
- Points per possession: Lakers - 1.09, Rockets - 1.06.