8:30 pm EST, TV: KCAL, FSH
Back to Houston to end the Lakers 2 day road trip. Lakers pay a visit to fellow Laker champ and former teammate, Trevor Ariza, killing two birds with one stone by personally delivering Ariza's ring at the same time. Trevor is playing great and fitting right in with the Rockets lineup. Aaron Brooks is collecting many assists thanks to Ariza's production. The Lakers leading assist man is Odom? Yes you heard it right, Lamar is the teams assists leader with 7 per game. Houston's Brooks has 9 per game.
Houston will grab more boards than Los Angeles. Houston has 9 players that have 10+ rebs in the early season where as the Lakes only have 4. The reason why Houston is playing so well is due to their all around production from the entire team. L.A. heavily relies on their starting 5 for production for right now until the team gets the early jitters out.
Lakers, on paper, should outscore the Rockets, with both McGrady and Yao out. Lakers have the talent to do so but also need to watch out for Chuck Hayes as he's taking the steep role as Houston's Center. He is capable of having a good night on any given night.
The champs will need to up their defense around the perimeter against the Rockets high octane 3 pt offense. They've made 40 three pointers already this season, more than doubling the Lakers 17. As we all know, Lakers are known to leave a man or two open behind the arc and this can't happen against Ariza and Brooks.
In just their second road trip match-up in an early 5 game season and the Lakers find themselves in their second OT game. 2 Away games & 2 OT victories. This was a game where the champs were behind throughout. A game of plenty of opportunities for the champs to cut the deficit closer and to possibly take the lead. A game of exhaustion and pure endurance.
Mr. Kobe Bryant has yet another one of his Kobe games. He is simply the best. His performance tonight was just inspiring. Recovering from flu like symptoms and he finds the strength to carry the team to another victory. His 41 points were desperately needed as his teammates seemed to be lost at times towards the end of regulation. Actually the Lakers had a 3 point lead but Trevor Ariza out of all people makes a 3 pointer to tie it up and send the game to OT.
Bynum had a big game tonight, especially in OT. He was butchered by the Rockets defense or lack thereof and making clutch free throws in the end. Bynum had a double double, 17 pts & 17 rebs. Artest played well too. He's starting to show his comfort as a Laker now. He looked good out there and I am starting to like him...so far. He didn't lose his cool at times where he should've and he kept his composure at times I expected him not to. The only technical given was to Kobe. My philosophy is this: Less whining = More winning. Stamp it folks, it's official.
Lakers come out a perfect 2-2 from their first road trip as expected but they weren't easy victories. I still have one concern, where is the Lakers bench contribution? The starters need the help and I feel the bench is not as deep as they were a season ago.
Other BIG sports news tonight, Congrats to the Yankees for becoming the 2009 MLB World Champions beating the reigning champion Phillies, 7-3.
Here are the final numbers to the game:
(click to enlarge)