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Game 3 Preview — The View from Houston...

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Violence!!! Frenzy!!! Hysteria!!! Angst!!!

Whew, that was fun...

And today justice has been done... Fisher the Brawny Bulldog (6'1" Laker PG) received his anticipated and well-deserved one game suspension without pay for laying lumber on Luis Rocketsasha, the flopping Forward with fashionable follicles. 

Another bone was tossed to the howling Houston hounds when Kobe the Great was racked up with a Flagrant 1 after the fact for roughing up Raving Ron in the paint. The request of Houston fans to also assign Pau Gasol a Flagrant 1 for unnecessary ugliness was turned down by the NBA's Commissar of Corrections, Stu Jackson, in an unseasonable display of charity.

The stage is set for Game 3 in Houston Friday evening. The game will be on TNT, because they do, after all, know drama. The game will be on ESPN, because you can always count on Disney Corp. to take a perfectly good joke and ruin it.

You know, I know, everybody who watches the NBA around the world knows — although we want another roller derby, Game 3 is actually gonna be a tedious three hour whistlefest in front of a mob too frenzied to be bored like the rest of us. I'm okay with the mob part, I reckon, not so much on all the foul shots, but whatcha gonna do? It is what it is. 

Then again, some Rocket folk are still seeing Kobe throwing a "vicious elbow" into Ol' Tableleg's throat when they watch replays of the ignominious incident known henceforth as Playoff Reboundgate... Maybe they are differently abled enough to envision an alternative upcoming game to the one expected with mathematical certainty by the purple tribe and all other tribes not located in Southeastern Texas...

Let's pay them another visit and find out, shall we?

(Click through to read more...)

Click the headlines to read the full articles...

(1)

Playoffs are a School of Hard Knocks

by Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle

Welcome to the NBA playoffs: where aggression happens.

Elbows — some incidental, some intentional — are flying and landing.

Bodies — some from hustle, others from dirty hits that would make former Detroit tough guy Bill Laimbeer proud — are flying and landing.

An allegation of "malicious play," an accusation of a "lack of respect," and an insinuation of overall softness were thrown Thursday, landing square in the face of the Los Angeles Lakers. (Sort of like that loose Sasha Vujacic elbow that came to rest on Shane Battier's brow Monday night.)

The Lakers and Rockets have played only two games in their wild ride of a second-round best-of-seven series, and already there have been flagrant fouls, ejections, a suspension ... and plenty of league office reviews of game tape.

Word on the street is Round 3 will be played tonight at Toyota Center.

"That's the playoffs for you — it's a nice and a wild atmosphere at the same time," the Rockets' Ron Artest said. "That's got to be fun for the fans."

This is what the city of Houston has been missing.

The Rockets and Lakers are reminding us what playoff basketball is all about. Ugly, nasty, tough, and fun.

"I'm sure people are just loving it," Rockets forward Luis Scola said. "When I win I love it, too. We didn't win (Wednesday), so I'm not loving it. Hopefully we'll get a win (tonight), and it'll be much more fun." * * *

 

(2)

A Second Look at Ron Artest's Verbal Retaliation

by Tom Martin, The Dream Shake

As expected, the NBA dished out penalties for the events of Game 2 in Los Angeles last night. Derek Fisher was suspended for one game for knocking Luis Scola to the floor with an elbow. Additionally, Kobe Bryant was assessed a flagrant one foul for elbowing Ron Artest. Though the results disagree with what I wrote this morning, I am not at all surprised.

Fisher's elbow certainly deserved a suspension. * * * Good call by the NBA.

As for the Bryant play, the league has the best replay, assuming there is one camera view that few others saw. ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan said that he viewed a replay that indicated that Bryant's elbow was in Ron's upper chest area. If that is indeed what the NBA saw, then the flagrant one is the right call, period. There were disagreements this morning as to what really took place, but now that it's been resolved, we can leave the Lakers alone. I think we've all expressed our opinions on the matter quite thoroughly.

However, I am still confused by Ron Artest's actions. If Kobe did not elbow Artest in the throat, then what kind of show was Crazy Pills putting on for everyone?

Ron, you got some splainin' to do.

I'm all for standing tall and not backing down. We know that Ron isn't afraid to fend for himself either. But did he have a legitimate reason to take his argument to that high of a level? Did he have to get in Kobe's face and effectively eject himself? Because if what the NBA says is true, that Kobe's elbow was merely to the chest, then Ron's retaliation wasn't worth it. The outcome of the game was not yet decided. That is, of course, until number 96 left the floor. * * *

 

(3)

Lakers are Rattled

by Kari, posted to The Dream Shake

* * *
The Lakers were trying to send a message that they are tough. The fact is they are not, and were simply rattled with the 2nd quarter comeback that a bunch of lunchpail Rocket players made. This Rocket team did not wilt, did not bow to their perceived greatness. They simply played solid basketball.

So, in the third quarter, Lakers simply resorted to taking cheapshots. In the past, Kobe in particular, has done such things repeatedly when things got a bit stressful for his team, and often has gotten away with it. This time, he messed with the wrong person, and Ron simply got on his face, and called his bluff. * * *

The Lakers got the win that they desparately needed, but the manner in which they got it, should put some serious doubt into their heads. On the other hand, for the Rockets, they now know that they can beat the Lakers, and the Rockets second unit is just as strong as their first. * * *

 

(4)

Rockets v. Lakers (Game 2): F is for Flagrant

by Septimus Rex, Fourth and Fifty.com

* * *
What didn't happen in this game? * * *

As Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant fight for a rebound under the Rockets basket, Artest stumbles backwards as the whistle blows. Foul on Artest. Ron-ron loses it. He's sprinting around the floor, yelling, throwing make believe elbows in the air. The referees are having none of it. Turns out they don't reverse their calls. So, instead of continuing to argue with the zebras Ron, being the level-headed gentleman that he is, approaches Kobe to ask him to come clean about hitting him in the larynx. Kobe denies, Ron continues, Referees throw out Artest.

Kobe, who had been egging on Shane Battier all night, makes a sweet shot in the Duke grad's face three possessions after Artest's ejection. Being the subtle man we all know him to be, he batters Batties with "you can't guard me." Kobe gets a technical foul for taunting. If the ref's are going to call this, shouldn't they just preemptively tee-up the Black Mamba before the game starts? You know he's going to be a pompous dick-head at some point during the game. Get it out of the way early.

The Derek Fischer ejection should have been the turning point in the game... the rallying cry for the Rockets, if you will. They kept their deficit to single digits going into the fourth quarter, and we learned in the second quarter they could erase that kind of lead with no problem. But, tempers flared and things got out of hand and Ronny couldn't keep his mouth shut.

In the end I will take getting one game in LA before the series comes back to Houston. I didn't think it would be done. It was enough for me last night being able to sit there and think, "man, they've got a chance to sweep the Lakers on their home court."

 

(5)

One Day Later...

by Anup, Rockets Buzz

I'm not sure where to start talking about last night. But I do know how to end it.

The Rockets came out of Game 2 much worse than the Lakers. I know that the talk of suspending Derek Fisher and Kobe (who are we kidding..that won't ever happen) has dominated the headlines today, but look at what happened to the Rockets in those final 12 minutes.

They weren't out of the game. Von Wafer could have kept his ego in check. Ron Artest could have not gone over to Kobe. I liked Artest's explanation, and I can't blame him for not wanting to be a pushover the way Dirk was in his pregame interview on Tuesday, but he should have recognized that he was the best player for the Rockets on the floor at the time. Yao wasn't stepping up. Neither were Brooks or Scola. * * *

 

(6)

A Wild and Crazy Night: Kobe gets tough, Artest gets angry and the NBA has some decisions to make

by Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle/chron.com

Ron Artest wanted to make a point. It's not exactly clear what that point was, probably something about him being mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Mostly, he decided to make a wild, bold, somewhat nutty, entirely ill-timed display of his feelings.

Artest had decided that Kobe Bryant had gone way too far over the line way too often. It was one thing for Bryant to cheap shot Shane Battier in Game 1. It was in one of those loose ball scrums. Those things happen all the time and no one gets fined for them. But this was too much for Artest to accept

So after Artest took a Bryant elbow to the throat, he took off in a sprint as if Bryant had tossed a beer cup from the crowd in the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The crowd rose. Bryant looked stunned, if not too concerned. Six fat guys in Michigan, watching on TNT, hid behind the couch.

"I went over there with the intention of telling Kobe, 'You're hitting the wrong person. Don't you know you're hitting Ron Artest?" Artest said.

It was not too bright a thing to do. Artest was tossed from the game. The Rockets were down 10 at the time. He said he thought he would get only a technical foul, but the way that game was going, there was no way he was going to get off that easy.

It was, however, terrific theatre. *  *  *

In a game with five technical fouls, two ejections and one flagrant, Von Wafer lost his head first.

He stomped around and threw a water bottle when he was taken out of the game. He likely said too much, too. Rick Adelman banished him to the locker room.

The Rockets know that Wafer can be that way and won't make it into more than that. If someone else had a tantrum it would be an indication of a real problem. With Wafer, it is just a part of his extremely intense, emotional makeup. *  *  *

 

(7)

Adelman Speaks on Von Wafer Incident: Rockets coach opens up about what happened between him and Von Wafer in Game 2

by Clutch, Clutch Fans.com

Rockets coach Rick Adelman spoke to the press after practice on Thursday and Raheel Ramzanali of 1560 the Game was there.


Specifically, Adelman opened up about the incident with Von Wafer. The Rockets guard was sent to the showers at the start of the fourth quarter after some verbal sparring with Adelman.

"He didn't like coming out," said Adelman bluntly. "He doesn't have to like coming out, but it's his job to accept that."

"It was the start of the fourth quarter in a playoff game and we didn't need that. He may not like it, but he doesn't question it during the game. I told him, 'Sometimes it has nothing to do with you'. Those two little guards (Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks) were pretty good in the first half and I got Ron and Yao back in the game. Even though it affects you, it has nothing to do with you. You don't like it you talk to me later but you don't do it then." * * *

 

* * ADDENDA **

(8)

Rockets/Lakers... oh, no. Not again.

by grungedave, hoisted in full from our friends at The Dream Shake

Oh, crap. I guess this is what I get for complaining about Joey Crawford.

Say hello to your lead referee for Game 3 tonight:

Javie_medium

I'd write more and express my true feelings about this assignment, but Javie would "T" me up and let the Lakers shoot free throws. We can't have that.

 

(9)

Game 3 Preview: Time to take one back

by Anup, Rockets Buzz

Let's start with one thing. With Joey Crawford, the NBAs biggest drama queen not reffing this game, don't expect the ridiculous ejections to continue. I'm curious to know the ratio of Joey Crawford ejections to the combined number of ejections of the rest of the officiating crew. How can this guy be considered so great? No referee should ever get this much attention.

But one thing will continue: the physical play. The Rockets are not a team willing to back down and Kenny Smith said it best on Wednesday. Yao Ming is not a bulldog, but what Daryl Morey has done is that he's surrounded Yao with bulldogs. Chuck Hayes. Ron Artest. Carl Landry. Kyle Lowry. Luis Scola. Shane Battier. These guys know how to fight and they truly understand the meaning of leaving it all out on the floor.

So I don't expect the Rockets to not come out swinging, because this is a much tougher team than in years past (very much so helped by the absence of soft superstars like TMac and Franchise). Even Vegas realizes this — giving the Lakers just a 2.5-point edge tonight. * * *

 

The Bottom Line:

1. Okay, we've gotten over Game 2 now...

2. Holy crap — you mean to tell us there's another game tonight?!?  Okay, we can do that... LOUDLY.

3. Kobe sucks and is a dirty scum and we're gonna say BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! with 14 Os and  6 exclamation points at Toyota Center — but upon further review, it's pretty clear that Ron did fly off the deep end in Game 2. We need him and he should keep it under control.