Lakers-Rockets Game 5 second half thoughts
It’s hard to really complain about a Lakers team that won 65 games in the regular season and has a record of 72-20 if you include the playoffs but if there is one thing that I find as a flaw with this team, it’s that they let their opponents back in the game too often after getting out to double digit leads. A recent example of that was the first round series against Utah. They led by double digits at one point in every one of those games and in every case they let Utah back in the game.
This brings me back to my point with tonight’s effort. The Lakers went into the locker room at halftime tonight with a 64-39 lead. They had completely dominated the Rockets in the first half and as we have seen the Lakers don’t always play with a full 48 minute effort. The “glass half empty” guy in me was expecting them to ease their foot off the gas and let Houston back into the game and end the third quarter with a 10-15 point lead. Boy was I happily wrong. They continued to put the pedal to the metal and go for broke increasing their lead at halftime from 25 points to 40 points at the end of third quarter. With the game all but out of hand to start the fourth quarter both sides emptied their benches and the Lakers still did not take their foot off the throat of their oppenent and maintained that 40 point lead all the way through the end of the game.
I know it’s only one game but I am optimistic that this could be the start of a trend for the Lakers and that is to play hard for 48 minutes a night. If they do that, I don’t think there is a team that can beat them in these playoffs. Not Cleveland, Denver, Orlando or Boston. The Lakers showed me that they had pride tonight. I’m sure that they heard all the deserved negative comments about their game 4 performance and they responded. They clearly set out to make a statement tonight and they did…a 48 minute, 40 point blowout statement.
All 12 players that entered the game scored points including seven players in double figures. Even DJ Mbenga got in on the scoring frenzy finishing the night with two points. The Lakers won the battles on the stat sheet in every category except offensive rebounds. They shot over 51 percent from the field and over 46 percent from behind the arc while holding Houston to only 32.6 percent shooting including only 17.2 percent from downtown.
I also need to touch on the effort of Andrew Bynum, who was back in the starting line up to replace the less than 100 percent Lamar Odom and for the first time this postseason showed signs of life finishing with 14 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes of play. I think it was the right move to start Bynum and I feel that he should be in the starting line up in Game 6 on Thursday night. The Lakers were able to punish the the undersized Rockets front line and I think that coach Phil Jackson should go back to what worked and try to demoralize the Rockets once again with the Lakers sizeable height advantage in the front court.
As fans of the purple and gold, we can rest easy and sleep well tonight rejoicing in the Lakers statement, beat down victory but mark this date on your calendar as the date that the Lakers have flipped the switch to “on” in the 2009 postseason.