By Jason Wojciechowski on May 5, 2009 at 8:47 AM
Three million things:
One million missed free throws. Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant missed seven combined. I'm counting Pau Gasol here since the free-throw-line jumper is his shot, and he missed about 250,000 of them himself tonight. What do the Lakers do about it? Nothing. They will make those shots going forward. It's that simple.
One million missed threes. L.A. is not Orlando, but they do rely on Kobe and Gasol getting guys wide open threes. Tonight they missed those open threes. Sasha missed a killer, Kobe missed some, Ariza missed two wide open ones from the elbow. Jordan Farmar's only shot of the game is the only three I can remember the Lakers making, although they apparently did hit three total.
One million ticky-tack fouls. I was going to say that this went both ways, but then I read the box score: 26 to 14 on the fouls. That's not absurd, but it is imbalanced given that the Rockets play a very hands-on, aggressive style of defense. The Lakers got called for a couple of loose-ball fouls going after offensive rebounds, which is going to happen from time to time when you're a strong offensive-rebounding team. Tonight was one of those times. Derek Fisher's strip of Yao late in the game that was called a classic reactionary NBA foul ("Yao's arms went up, so it must be a foul!"), two questionable calls on balls out of bounds that the Lakers might not have touched last, and Lamar Odom being whistled out of bounds on a fast break were key moments in the fourth quarter. TNT didn't replay Odom enough times for me to be sure, but I wasn't entirely convinced that his heel actually came down on the line.
A few other reasons. Ron Artest shot some bullshit jumpers that actually went in. The three off the glass comes to mind. He's not a good shooter from outside, but he takes a ton of them anyway. Usually the Rockets win in spite of that. Tonight, they won because of it.
L.A. had no answer for Aaron Brooks late in the game. Phil went to Jordan Farmar, probably the quickest and fastest of the three Laker point guards, for all of three minutes of game action. Farmar, as previously mentioned, hit his only shot, and the team was +4 in those three minutes. Shannon Brown's 13 minutes, by contrast, resulted in just one shot (not official, since he was fouled on it), two points, and a -3 rating. Derek Fisher was -11 amidst a bad shooting night. Phil seems to have buried Jordan Farmar, but I think he's got to bring him out of the woodwork for Game 2.