You are cordially invited to the possible demise of Jared Launius.
I’m starting this post at 2:15 central time (15 minutes before the Rockets and Lakers tip off Game 7 at Staples Center). In case you aren’t aware, I love Kobe Bryant as much as platonically possible. I grew up a Lakers fan because of him. I’ve stuck with him throughout his enigmatic career. I wrote a novel about him in February that you likely didn’t read. I find him to be simultaneously overrated and underrated. I’ve spent more time theorizing about his career than Troy spent theorizing how to “make it” with Andy in the Goonies.
And now, here we are. This Lakers-Rockets series has been the epitome of Murphy’s Law (“what can go wrong will go wrong”)- not for the Rockets, but for the Lakers. If Yao hadn’t gone down for the remainder of the Playoffs with a broken foot, the Lakers probably would’ve won this series in five. But now, Houston’s group of scrappy role players are playing with a terrifying “we know we’re overmatched and undermanned, so let’s just go small and create a nightmare match-up that the Lakers have had little time to prepare for and can’t keep up with” edge. The Lakers have responded by losing their will to play winning basketball.
I don’t care that this game is in LA. I honestly think the Rocket’s will win.
As your treat, you all will get a real-time diary that could potentially provide raw emotional despair, curse words, and my eventual death.
11:40– Kudos the the Staples Center crowd. They are usually disinterested early, but they really seem to have a grasp as to how important home-court advantage is in this game.
9:38– Ladies and gentlemen, we have confirmation out of Los Angeles that Trevor Ariza is in fact alive and capable of playing basketball. I’m certain your family will be happy to hear from you, Trevor. I’m sure that your absence has worried them. I know it’s frustrated me.
7:38– On a similar note, I’d also like to welcome Andrew Bynum back from the dead. Congrats on grabbing your first rebound since January.
2:13– OHHHH! So Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza are capable of knocking down three pointers? Andrew Bynum can rebound AND block shots? Kobe Bryant knows how to set up jump shooters? Pau Gasol doesn’t always have to be a physical center’s bitch? Jordan Farmar can create shots for others? The Lakers know how to close out on shooters and play 5 feet off of Aaron Brooks to keep him out of the lane? WHY CAN’T YOU DO THIS EVERY NIGHT YOU TOUCH THE FLOOR?!?!?
0:00– Well it looks the the Lakers are going to run away with this one. Sorry, America. You lose out. I was ready to set the Korked Bats record for most cuss words in a post. It would’ve been a lovely meltdown.
10:53– I’m not sure which makes me more angry: the fact that this series has gone seven games, or the fact that that Lakers are capable of being a good defensive team and they just choose not to be until they absolutely have to. How about I end the suspense for you, Lake Show. YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO PLAY DEFENSE IN EVERY GAME OF THE PLAYOFFS. Otherwise you get taken to seven games by the Chuck Hayes All-Stars.
8:29– I’ve never enjoyed watching one of my favorite teams run away with a game less. Where has this effort been the entire series? If you want viable proof that the Lakers have the talent to beat the Cavs in the Finals, watch game seven- right now, they have a 14-point 2nd quarter lead and Kobe Bryant only has 2 points. If you want to know why they neither deserve to nor will win the title, watch games 1-6 (excepting game 5).
6:22– The Lakers are rotating over on dribble-drives, actively using their hands on defense, and keeping the Rockets out of the lane. Where has this been all late-April and May? The Lakers have held the Rockets to 17 points through almost 18 minutes of game time on a paltry 26% shooting, have forced 6 turnovers, and are rebounding, winning 50-50 balls, and bodying up. When they play like this, there is no team in the NBA that can beat them. When they play like that.
3:19– A defensive breakdown just led to a wide open Von Wafer dunk. That’s the first easy bucket the Rockets have had this game. Defense, huh? Who knew?
0:00– Here’s the first half in a statistical eggshell:
11– That’s how many rebounds Pau Gasol has at halftime. I’m glad it only took him 4 games to learn how to dominate the glass against a 6-foot-6 center.
4– Kobe Bryant has 4 halftime assists. This team functions best when they run the offense through him and he doesn’t just take every decent look he gets.
.25– That’s Kobe’s field goal percent. What’s significant about that? the Lakers are 2-0 in this series when Kobe shoots over 50%. They’re 1-3 when he shoots under 50%. Soooo, this is a a good sign for the Lakers because it means they aren’t relying on a monster night from Kobe to win.
2– Aaron Brooks’ combined made field goals and assists. He’s been the barometer for Rocket success in this series (he’s averaged 26 points in their wins and 11 points per game in the losses). The Lakers have made him a jump shooter, and he’s responded by only making 1 of 6 shots.
11– The Lakers have 11 combined blocks and steals- that puts them on pace for 22 in this game. They’ve averaged 12.3 combined steals and blocks in their losses in this series and 19 in their wins. Oh so it’s defense that wins games in the playoffs? Who knew?
8– That’s the number of cynical comments I’ve made about Laker defense and rebounding in this post. That puts me on pace for 16 in this game. I’ve average 15.3 in Laker wins in this series and 120,934,872,394.4 in losses.
12:00– Wake me up when I have something to scream about.
8:44– Before this post is dissolved down to snarky comments about things going on in the game, allow me to get this out really quick- Shane Battier is the best 1-on-1 defender in the NBA. I’ve watched Kobe play go up against Pippen, Tayshaun Prince, Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell, James Posey and so on. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone play him better than Battier has in this series. He’s been able to keep him out of the paint and has his hand two inches from Kobe’s face on literally every jump shot he takes. So impressive. If Kobe doesn’t embrace Ron Artest and Shane Battier after this game to thank them for giving him an incredible battle, I’ll be sourly disappointed.
5:14– What do you think Ron Artest really thinks about during basketball games? I will literally murder you if you elbow me again, Kobe. Literally, murder you. Or maybe: Do they know what we are capable of, Ronny? No, they don’t know what we can do, Ron-Ron. We will destroy them. We will destroy the others. Yes Ronny, we will destroy them.
1:56– I just caught a quick glimpse of the mustache on one of the referees and briefly entertained myself at the thought of Tim Donaghy coming back to the NBA offices to apply for a refereeing job looking exactly the same as he did when he got busted for betting on games except sporting a big, fake mustache.
0:00– For further proof as to how good Battier is at defending Kobe, watch the “Where will amazing happen this year” commercial with the clip from Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2000. Scottie Pippen (albeit, a bit past his prime) was guarding Kobe, and he blew right by Pippen to set up Shaq for the game-winning alley oop. I’m not saying by any means that Battier is a better defender than Pippen, but Kobe hasn’t blown past Battier like that all series.
12:00– Oh goody, Von Wafer has just checked in! I like to play this really fun game with Von called “Guess how many seconds it will be after Von Wafter catches the ball until he shoots it.” You’re usually safe guessing something around 1.5 seconds. I’d say that’s close to his season average.
8:37– Wafer has attempted 3 of Houston’s 4 field goals this quarter. This is such a fun game.
7:33– You know the Lakers must be winning a blowout if Sasha Vujacic is knocking down jumpers.
6:45– Some running titles for what we should call it every time Luis Scola and Pau Gasol collide in the paint: Nightmare on Lane Street, Bumping Fuglies, Make the Children Leave the Room, Basketball: So Easy, Cavemen Can Do It, My Worst Nightmare, Instant Death, New Lens, Pandemic Blindness, and “The NBA: Where accepting of all types of people happens.”
5:41– DJ MBenga. (That’s the whole joke. You can laugh)
1:20– I was about to do a quick bit about how much respect I had for the Rockets for taking this series to seven games and for playing the right way, but then DJ MBenga dunked and I was lost in laughter for the remainder of the game.
0:00– Well I’m sorry folks. You didn’t get Christian Bale-like meltdown out of me, and for that I apologize.
By the way, I think Von Wafer just shot another three pointer.