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Five things to take from Lakers' 112-107 loss to Houston Rockets

April 06, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to power his way past Rockets center Marcus Camby in the first half Friday night at Staples Center.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to power his way past Rockets center Marcus… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

A few things to take from the Lakers' 112-107 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday:

1. The Lakers couldn't finish in the final moments. Even with the blown lead and Andrew Bynum's ejection, the Lakers still could've won the game. Matt Barnes tied the score at 99-99 with 2:31 left. But then these sequences happened. Metta World Peace fouled Luis Scola, who made two free throws. Pau Gasol missed an easy jumper. Houston's Chandler Parsons was left wide open for a three-pointer. Gasol's dunk was soon mitigated by no one contesting Goran Dragic from driving into the lane for an easy layup.

After Bryant's layup and two free throws, the Lakers could have forced overtime if they made a defensive stop. But after the Rockets inbounds pass, World Peace fouled Chase Budinger, who made both free throws. There are plenty more reasons outlined below why the Lakers couldn't beat Houston despite the Rockets missing starting guards Kyle Lowry (bacterial infection) and Kevin Martin (strained right shoulder).

2. Andrew Bynum needs to grow up. Yeah, if it sounds repetitive, that's because he keeps doing stupid things. The latest act of indiscretion involved earning his second ejection in two weeks against Houston. First, Bynum nearly got into an altercation after Rockets center Samuel Dalembert pushed him from behind. He would've gotten thrown out earlier had Josh McRoberts not intervened because it looked like Bynum was charging at Dalembert.  Then with 11:17 left in the fourth quarter, Bynum jawed at Houston's bench after making a basket, earning him a second T and automatic ejection.

Hey, at least Bynum didn't rip off his jersey like he did in the 2011 NBA playoffsafter clotheslining J.J. Barea. At least Bynum didn't high-five his teammates like he did two weeks ago. But Bynum is clearly losing his composure. As much as he's helping the Lakers against Houston with 19 points on six-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes, the young center hurt the team even more for his immaturity and indiscretion.

3. The Lakers had inconsistent focus. First it appeared the Lakers looked tired. They committed seven first-quarter turnovers. Kobe Bryant missed five of eight shots to open the game. Pau Gasol didn't even record a single field goal because of a lack of aggressiveness. They made Rockets reserves Earl Boykins and Dalembert look like a lethal 1-2 combo. But the Lakers turned that around. They only committed two turnovers in the second quarter.  Bryant and World Peace combined for 23 second-quarter points. And the Lakers reserves provided some energetic plays, such as Steve Blake's lob to Josh McRoberts. 

The Lakers' 10-0 run to close out a 59-50 half-time lead did very little. That's because the Lakers seem to follow this proportional formula: quality of opponent - (x- point lead) + fatigue = equals the Lakers' effort level on defense. They looked lazy both in closing out the perimeter (Rockets shot 10-of-17 from three-point range) and in transition defense (conceded 16 fast-break points).

It's getting tiresome analyzing this problem because the Lakers have done this for the past eight games. The Lakers have for the past two weeks played too much with a situational attitude.

4. Metta World Peace came to play. Time after time, World Peace muscled his way in the post, scored while driving to the basket and carried the Lakers when no one else did. His season-high 23 points on eight-of-13 shooting signifies numerous things. It shows that his unspecified ankle injury sustained in last week's loss to Oklahoma City shouldn't be worrisome. His focus in providing a defensive presence and finding high-percentage looks appears to be peaking. And I can't help but wonder why the Lakers didn't feature him in this capacity earlier.

The Lakers had talked in training camp about feeding World Peace in the post, but hardly ever did even when he was a reserve. Most of World Peace's 11 games where he's scored in double digits primarily featured him in that area. Yet, the Lakers hardly used him as much there. Granted, the Lakers often keep that space reserved for Bynum and Gasol, but it's beyond me why World Peace didn't operate there at least when Lakers Coach Mike Brown featured him with reserve-centric lineups. Against Houston, World Peace showed why that's a sound strategy.

5. The Lakers bench did a good job. The stats aren't eye-popping. But the Lakers' bench provided lots of energy. Matt Barnes made up for a one-of-nine clip by grabbing 13 boards and providing plenty of full-court passes that led to fast-break points. Josh McRoberts threw down two of those lobs and helped push the Lakers' pace up the floor. Steve Blake's two points mean little, but his role as floor general played a large part in the Lakers outscoring the Rockets, 35-21, in the second quarter.

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Five things to take from Lakers' 112-107 loss to Houston Rockets

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