Game 3 is set for tonight in Houston and the Lakers will be without Derek Fisher (warranted). Kobe was not suspended because his elbow landed in Ron Artest's "chest." Instead, he was assessed a Flagrant 1 (still bogus).
How much will Fisher be missed? He may have galvanized the team with his suspension earning foul, but Fish's absence will mean Jordan Farmar or Shannon Brown must step up. Brown has been good in his minutes, but maybe this is the game that Farmar can shake his slump for good. He's even putting in extra work on the practice floor to make sure.
They think we're dirty. They think they're "naturally tough." I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it the regular season against us, nor did we see it in Game 1. But I do know we're the naturally "better" team, and can and will play tough. I do know that when it got chippy in Game 2, the Rockets folded like they did in 4 of the 5 previous games. How tough is that? In the only physical or chippy game these two teams have played, we saw the Rockets crash and burn.
"The Rockets lost because they fell apart as a team and stopped playing hard in the fourth quarter. The effort was not there; instead, it was replaced by running mouths and lack of leadership. Joey Crawford was more of a nuisance to the Lakers then the Rockets, so really, the Rockets couldn’t win – even with the Lakers getting called for every foul under the sun. It was a good game for three quarters, but that fourth was atrocious...," say Joel Roza of the Caller Times.
When both teams decide to play tough or chippy, expect talent to prevail. Expect to see the best road team in the NBA. Expect the Lakers to win.
Click on through for the rest of the links.
"Had L.A. showed the kind of toughness we saw in Game 2 against Houston in last season's NBA Finals, that outcome might have been different. The playoffs are cumulative learning experiences, and Boston taught the Lakers well. Houston will without a doubt be ready to fight again in Game 3, but L.A.'s defense should be the difference."
"As a result, the defense has to be No. 1 on the Lakers' list of concerns as the series moves to Houston. Yes, this is a Series now, with a capital S. And not just because of the bad blood from Game 2. Houston played L.A. to a draw on its soil, and now it's incumbent on the Lakers to win at least once in Texas. I'm still picking the Lakers to advance, but based on how Game 2 played out, it's not going to be easy."
TrueHoop, "See the Big Guy? Give Him the Ball."
"...some clear examples moments Yao had position to die for, but his teammates like Aaron Brooks, Ron Artest or Shane Battier simply didn't make the pass."
(Wasn't that the Rockets #1 problem against us all year? So, was Game 1 an aberration? I tend to think so. I expect to see more of what happened in Game 2.)
"In what was an excessively physical game that seemed to pretty loudly answer the question of whether the Lakers are "soft", LA came at the Rockets from all angles and essentially beat them into submission."
"What was lost in all of the commotion was a fairly successful Lakers game plan. They took the ball and attacked Yao Ming, effectively neutralizing him with early foul trouble. Kobe was much more focused and didn’t allow the Rockets to send any weakside help, leaving Battier alone to fend for himself."
"Who told you someone wants a postseason dominated not by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, but by you, Stu Jackson and that general you put in charge of the referees, perhaps to turn them into an elite force to kidnap Mark Cuban?"
"What's going on with Lakers center Andrew Bynum?
'It's mental,' Bynum said. 'It's not really physical....It's mind-set. I don't know if it's just because of the injury or what.' "