Ramon Sessions controlled the pace and made smooth decisions. How ‘bout that spin move on the fastbreak where he pump fakes and drops it off to Andrew Bynum for the jam, or that bullet pass to Metta World Peace for the lay in. And World Peace scores 17 by halftime. You knew Kobe Bryant was on a mission, facing Chandler Parsons, a guy that got credit for defending Kobe the last time they played. Bryant hit 18 making all 5 of his free throw attempts. Tell me how Bynum keeps turning the ball over. A center giving the ball away, this guy should be on thin ice. He has games like last night, eclipsing 30 points. If you want to be the man, or a go-to guy, or one of the best players in the league, you have to do it every night. Tonight, he had 4 turnovers at the half and scored 9. At least he makes foul shots. Josh McRoberts played his role well, grabbing 4 boards.
Camby had to sit down early for picking up 2 fouls. Samuel Dalembert came up big for Houston with 10 and 4 in the first half. But a guy that constantly gets overlooked by the media and fans, Luis Scola. What a player, he outhustled the bigs on the Lakers. The type of guy you want on your team. He had 15 points and 2 steals by the break. Chandler Parsons and Gordon Dragic are solid all-around contributors. Marcus Camby has been shooting efficiently lately, I’ve noticed he is shooting more along the perimeter and continues to erase shots in the paint. A stat you don’t see is shots altered, something Camby has done his whole career.
Halftime: Lakers 59, Rockets 50
The Rockets push the pace and they’re gritty. They started the game energetic, and they came out the gates even better in the 3rd quarter. They pushed the ball all night. Courtney Lee shot the ball well. The starting unit got aggressively defensively and converted transition buckets. Dragic may not have stood out, but he made L.A.’s defense move. He challenged the lane by getting past Sessions and penetrating. I thought Houston would go after Gasol more. He had 2 fouls in the 3rd. Why not try to put him on the sidelines with 3 or 4 fouls? Especially since he was guarding Scola, they kind of went away from that in the half court gameplan. But they came out firing collectively on both ends of the court and snatched the lead. Parsons felt the pressure when he handled the rock. Kobe was playing some tough defense. Parsons had a nice move getting to the free throw area, did a half-spin pivot and knocked down the fade away. The Rockets played with the lead for a while. Budinger is shooting lights out, over 41% from downtown. He hit a deep three early in the 4th. As the shot clock expired, Camby swished a 3-pointer from the top, he had a season high 12 points to go with 11 boards. On the following play Lee gets called for a carry. When they struggle they bounce back by going to Scola, the versatile and fundamental scorer. He would make any team instantly better. Parson nailed a corner 3 over Bryant with the shot clock winding down. Out of a timeout Dragic came off a screen and scoops a contested layup off using the backboard for what seemed like the dagger, then beats Sessions down the court with a reverse finish. Dragic and Scola combined for 49 points. Budinger seals the deal from the charity stripe and Dragic confirms.
Bynum got a couple early buckets in the 3rd, but he battled with Camby the veteran. Sessions isn’t necessarily a top point guard. He’s solid and plays his Lake Show role perfectly so far. He attacks the basket, creates for teammates, and contests his counterpart defensively. That goes to show how Steve Blake has not panned out or how Derek Fisher has aged, but Sessions is flourishing at the position. When you have 3 all-stars on your team, 2 of them 7-footers, and a future hall of famer that leads the league in scoring, they’re still contending for a championship despite their weekly drama. World Peace has turned back the clock, taking advantage of his matchup against Budinger. Quietly, Pau Gasol has taken the Lamar Odom role, and I mean in terms of filling the stat sheet in points, rebounds, and assists. He’s adjusted well and Mike Brown deserves credit. Exciting play by Matt Barnes throwing the lob to McRoberts on the break, McRoberts actually had back-to-back dunks that brought the crowd to life. He even challenged Dalembert on a dunk attempt for a block. He couldn’t finish at the rim but he drilled that 3 to tie the game at 99. Bynum picked up a technical at the end of the 3rd. He needs to keep that chip on his shoulder because he’s playing great basketball when he wants to, but his consistency and composure are keys to their success. He scores off a nice hook with the left hand, but he refuses to grow up. He taunts and gets tossed for his 2nd technical, finishing with 19, 7, and 2 swats. Being named the starting center of the all-star team has given this sense of entitlement. The Rockets know how to get in Bynum’s head, he was also ejected when they played at Houston. Barnes was active as usual, crashing the glass for 13 rebounds. Kobe missed a 3 but nets a couple from the foul line, he and World Peace combined for 51 points.
Final: Rockets 112, Lakers 107