A weird game, especially when this version of the Los Angeles Lakers manages to come up with a win against one of the supposedly better teams in the NBA. Resorting to dirty tactics, which means fouling Dwight Howard in embarrassing ways, and one big shot from Steve Blake, were enough to pull off one of the biggest upsets early in this NBA season.
With the Rockets up 98-96, Pau Gasol set a screen on Patrick Beverley that the disappointing point guard didn’t even try to fight. Dwight Howard tried and block Steve Blake, but the point guard hit his fourth three pointer of the game with 1.3 seconds left to give the Lakers a quite stunning 99-98 win.
Mike D’Antoni complained last season about the hack-a-Dwight, saying it’s bad for the game. Seeing the opportunity in front of him and especially the Rockets running away with the game in the final quarter, he resorted to the same tactics he hated hurting him. Dwight Howard finished with 5-of-16 from the line, including 5-of-10 during that hack-a-Dwight stretch, helping the Lakers withstand the late run.
There seems to be something quite weird going on for the Lakers this season. They keep changing players in their lineup, and it seems that whoever plays, they are better coming off the bench. Nick Young and Chris Kaman were put into the lineup along with Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Steve Blake. The real heroes of this win, except for Blake, obviously? Jodie Meeks, scoring 18 points with 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and was surprising on defense against James Harden.
The Lakers shot 16-of-35 from beyond the arc, deciding that trying to score on Howard and Asik in the paint isn’t going to work. Pau Gasol was terrible with 2 points and 12 rebounds on 1-of-10 from the field. The Lakers enjoyed the very weak perimeter defense from the Rockets early on to score 35 first quarter points, and create enough of a cushion for themselves to play like they usually do for the rest of the game.
The Rockets need to somehow slow down James Harden. Their own player? Yes. Harden seems to let fame and success get to his head, doing whatever he wants to on the floor. Patrick Beverley is half the point guard Jeremy Lin is, but he spends too much time on the floor. It allows Harden to do whatever he wants, which translated into 9-of-24 from the field, scoring 35 points, but making too many mistakes to be considered effective during the game.
In a season that isn’t going to be pleasant, any win without Kobe Bryant healthy feels like a huge bonus, a surprising one. When it comes over a player some in the organization felt like he betrayed them while making him reveal his biggest weakness once again, it’s an even better feeling that it should be. The Lakers continue to look bad and play bad basketball for most of the game, but sometimes it’s enough to beat teams that are playing stupid basketball.