News » 2008-09 NBA CHAMPIONS 2009-06-17

2008-09 NBA CHAMPIONS 2009-06-17

2008-09 NBA CHAMPIONS 2009-06-17

GAME 1: Rockets 100, at Lakers 92

GAME 2: at Lakers 111, Rockets 98

GAME 3: Lakers 108, at Rockets 94

GAME 4: at Rockets 99, Lakers 87

GAME 5: at Lakers 118, Rockets 78

GAME 6: at Rockets 95, Lakers 80

GAME 7: at Lakers 89, Rockets 70

Ebb and flow

This series never lacked story lines.

Houston's Game 1 victory in Los Angeles again raised questions about the Lakers' commitment to playing hard every game and to the team's toughness, an issue in last year's NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.

In Game 2, things got physical. Derek Fisher was ejected for throwing an elbow as forward Luis Scola tried to set a screen on him near the top of the key. Rockets guard Ron Artest fumed about an over-the-back foul when he thought Bryant should've been called for throwing an elbow. Artest ran across the court to Bryant to voice his displeasure and was ejected.

The Lakers then took Game 3 and regained home-court advantage and apparently the upper hand. They held Houston to 41.7% shooting and made 11 steals and nine blocks; center Yao Ming suffered a season-ending hairline fracture in his left foot.

The rest of the series, though, captured the Lakers in a nutshell. They displayed a laissez-faire attitude in 12-point and 15-point losses in Games 4 and 6. They showcased their superior talent against an undermanned Houston team in 40-point and 19-point blowouts in Games 5 and 7.

Star watch

The Lakers were 4-0 against the Rockets in the regular season, and there was tension between Artest and Bryant.

A trash-talking Artest spurred Bryant into a 37-point effort in March, and Artest scored only 11 points on four-of-16 shooting. In the Lakers' victory in April, Artest (21 points) and Bryant (20) nearly canceled each other out.

Artest displayed that same inconsistency in the playoffs. He scored at least 20 points in the series' first three games but reached double digits in only one of the next four. Although Shane Battier disrupted Bryant's drives to the basket, Bryant had a strong series, including a 40-point outburst in Game 2.

Who knew?

The Rockets were scrappy, despite losing Yao, and made more of a series out of it than the regular season would have suggested.

Sure, Houston had battled adversity all season. The Rockets advanced past the opening round for the first time in 12 years, despite Tracy McGrady's season-ending knee injury in February and Dikembe Mutombo's knee injury during Houston's first-round series against Portland.

But the fact the Rockets hung with the Lakers through seven games when some thought they wouldn't last more than four spoke to Houston's resiliency and the Lakers' complacency.

By the numbers

Lakers :

Kobe Bryant: 27.4 points

3.7 assists

Pau Gasol: 18.6 points

12 rebounds


Aaron Brooks: 18.8 points

Ron Artest: 17 points

3.8 assists

Lasting impression

After testing their fans' sanity level for 13 days, the Lakers survived and avoided a long off-season filled with probing questions about next season's roster.

The Lakers , aware they could take no opponent lightly, would next face in the Western Conference finals a different Denver Nuggets team from the one they had swept last year in the first round by an average of 13.3 points. The Nuggets advanced to their first Western finals since 1985 by going 8-2 in the playoffs and defeating New Orleans and Dallas by an average of 20.5 points.--

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 17, 2009


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