Monday, May 18, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Lakers Outlast the Rockets

L.A. Lakers over the Houston Rockets: (89-70) The Lakers were widely favored going into the series and many thought they'd win it in no more than 5 games, but Houston forced them to game 7. The Rockets did it without their two star players, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. McGrady has been out since February and Ming got injured in Game 3 of the series. Undersized and undermanned the Rockets came up with two big wins in Games 4 and 6 to even the series up. Through the first six games the Rockets had exposed a serious weakness of the Lakers. They showed that if L.A. doesn't play like a team and you force tough shots then the Lakers can fall apart. Too often L.A. relies on Kobe and they live and die with his jump shot. 

Game 7 was a different story though. The Lakers won the game in large part because they had a balanced offense and used their size advantage. Kobe Bryant had an unspectacular game, but Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza all picked up their game. Kobe was more of a decoy and only hit 33% of his shots, but his threat on the outside allowed the big men to dominate the paint. Gasol led the team in points (21) and rebounds (18) and set the tone for the entire game. He caused all sorts of match-up problems for Houston and controlled the defensive glass. Bynum added 14 points and 6 boards in only 22 minutes. The Rockets were noticeably missing Yao Ming in the middle, as they allowed to many easy shots inside and had no presence on the glass. The Lakers allowed the Rockets only five offensive boards and 33 total all game compared to their 55. The Lakers will now face a tough match-up against the Denver Nuggets. They will have to continue playing like a team, instead of a collection of stars to advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.

No comments:

Post a Comment