Editor's note: Today Wild Yams is acting as Basketbawful's special Lakers correspondent. You know, just so you'll know who to spam if you don't like the Rockets-Lakers section.
The Orlando Magic: When Eddie House gunned down the Bulls in Game 7 of Boston's first-round series, there were some people (maybe even a lot of people) who thought the laser-like accuracy of his performance was a fluke. And I guess the Magic players were part of that group, because they would not and then could not contain the tiny guard, who "bustin' somebody's ass" with a career-high 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting (including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc). Not only did Eddie's detonation induce a 112-94 blowout and cause an explosion of way-too-predictable puns to sweep across the Internet ("Magic Get Housed!!!"), it also caused Rafer Alston to totally lose his sh*t (see below).
It was a pretty sad showing for the Magic, who got crushed despite the fact that Paul Pierce played only 15 minutes and finished with more fouls (4) than points (3). Orlando got skewered, and not only by Fast Eddie. Rajon Rondo had a triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 18 assists), Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby were nearly perfect from the field (7-for-10 and 4-for-5, respectively) and even Brian Scalabrine had 8 points on 3-for-4 shooting (2-for-3 from downtown). Toss in the fact that the Magic bricked 13 free throws (24-for-37), and it was pretty much a lost night altogether.
Rafer Alston: Not only did he shoot 3-for-11 and get outscored 8-7 by the whitest man in New England, Alston was had all the body hair on his body singed off by the nuclear heat emanating from Eddie House leading to a cheap slap upside the back of Eddie's head...and yet another awesome "Where Amazing Happens" commercial spoof:
I guess Skippy had a flashback from his days on the And 1! tour. I seriously can't imagine that Alston won't get suspended for Game 3. Just what the Magic needed: To lose another starting point guard.
Rafer Alston, echo machine: From Basketbawful reader Mike T: "After the game, reporters were asking Alston about slapping Eddie House and he started by saying 'When you're havin' a good night, havin' a good night. Uh, they were kickin' our behinds, kickin' our behinds.' At least he didn't mention their deep penetration deep penetration."
Eddie House, post-game interview/unintentionally dirty quote machine: "...you know, that's what happen when you start bustin' sombody's ass, they get upset like that and resort to bush league tactics." Classic. Note also when he says "...I can get my hands on balls..."
Dwight Howard: Basketbawful reader Sturla writes: "Guess it was Superman's day off, so Bizzaro showed up instead: 5 turnovers, 4 fouls, bricks 60 percent of his shots, goes 2-for-8 from the line, nearly gets outrebounded by the opposing six-foot point guard and gets outblocked by Brian "Frigging" Scalabrine 2-0 (and getting outblocked by Scal is a Worst of the Night/Year/decade by itself)."
I can't disagree. Plus, compare Howard's performance to that of the man he was supposed to be guarding, Kendrick Perkins, who had 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, 9 boards and 2 blocked shots...in five fewer minutes. Oh, and check out the plus-minus scores: -20 for Dwight, +11 for Kendrick. The Celtics have to be pretty happy with the outcome of that matchup, wouldn't you say?
Stephon Marbury: More from Sturla: "And what is wrong with Stephon Marbury? As good as he looked in game 1, that’s how bad he looked in game 2. Only 1-for-7 and 2 points. Has it been that long since he proclaimed that he was the best point guard in the NBA? These days he gets soundly outplayed by Anthony Johnson." One last point: Starburied had the worst plus-minus score on the team (-5). Pretty sad when you consider that the Celtics won by 18.
The Houston Rockets: In what was probably the wildest game of the playoffs so far, and a contest that could be argued was "must win" for both teams, the Rockets only showed up for the first half and as a result blew an opportunity to go home up 2-0. In what was an excessively physical game that seemed to pretty loudly answer the question of whether the Lakers are "soft", LA came at the Rockets from all angles and essentially beat them into submission. In the first half the Lakers came out on fire, but Houston answered right back in the second quarter, and it really looked like this Rocket team simply would not be intimidated. Yet in the second half after the Lakers took a double digit lead, things suddenly got real chippy and real physical, and Houston seemed to wilt in the face of it all. Pending the ongoing wussification of the league potential suspensions, we'll have to see if the Rockets can pick themselves off the canvas and show that they're the "bulldogs" that the TNT crew was claiming they were. All I know is that last night the Lakers got right in Houston's faces, and Houston backed down, with the possible exception of...
Ron Artest: Crazy Pills seemed to be the only one who stood up for himself, which isn't surprising. Unfortunately for Houston, it's also not surprising that the way he stood up for himself was to go after Kobe Bryant so aggressively during a dead ball that he got himself ejected. Artest was Houston's best player all night, so he really did his team a disservice by getting tossed with seven minutes to go and his team down 10. With Artest out of the game the Rockets rather meekly let the Lakers quickly bump the lead up to 15, and that was basically that. One can argue that Artest didn't do enough to get tossed, or that he needed to assert to Kobe that he wasn't gonna take getting elbowed like that; but considering the situation with all the technicals and the Derek Fisher ejection and considering Artest's reputation, it's really not that surprising he got the gate for running over and getting in Kobe's face like that after the ref told him to put a cork in it. Speaking of guys losing their cool...
Von Wafer: A player getting sent to the locker room by his own coach after a heated argument would probably be a huge story if not for all the other drama in this game; but even though Wafer being sent to the showers at the end of the third quarter by coach Rick Adelman will probably get swept under the rug a bit, that's a huge story. The Rockets are gonna need every player available and playing well if they want to win this series, and they can ill afford to have Wafer not playing. Von Wafer's incident with his coach and Ron Artest's ejection make me wonder not just about the toughness of the Rockets, but about their composure as well. For Houston to win they need Von Wafer in there to make shots, and they need Artest to keep playing smart basketball and not try to make a statement (a la Kobe in Game 1); and these two incidents call all of that into question.
Yao Ming: Maybe the biggest stat of the night was the 26 minutes Yao played, 12 of which came in a 4th quarter, most of which Houston spent behind by double digits. Five very stupid fouls by Yao caused his limited minutes, and without him in there Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were able to combine for 29 points and 25 rebounds (and 8 assists and 5 blocks). Fortunately for the Rockets, not everyone took advantage of Yao's absence...
Andrew Bynum: Maybe Phil Jackson left him on the bench for all but nine minutes of this game because Yao was in foul trouble, or because Lamar Odom was playing well; but at some point the excuses have to run out and reality has to set in: Bynum is looking like he's not going to contribute much at all in these playoffs. No points last night, 1 rebound and 3 fouls (he did have 1 steal and 1 block) is not a good sign for how much LA can count on Bynum for the rest of the postseason.
Jordan Farmar: After languishing on the bench for the last month or so, Farmar finally got some minutes (due to Derek Fisher's ejection) and he really made the least of them. 18 minutes, 5 points on 2-for-7 shooting and 1 assist is not what the Lakers need out of him; and make no mistake, they very well might need him for a lot more in Game 3 depending on whether the league suspends Derek Fisher for knocking Luis Scola on his ass.
Speaking of Fisher and that shot he laid on Scola, I'm not putting him in here for today's Worst Of, because even though it was a cheap shot (though not dirty enough to risk injuring a guy), and even though it got him ejected and may earn him a suspension; I think it was a smart, veteran play which sent a powerful message to the Rockets. And let's face it, Houston didn't have much fight in them after that play, and it remains to be seen whether they'll bounce back from backing down the way they did. Fisher is an important piece for the Lakers, but they do have two backups behind him who don't represent much of a dropoff, so it wasn't really that bad of a sacrifice for him to make. Jordan Farmar might be a better matchup on Aaron Brooks anyway, considering Brooks is all speed and no brawn. We'll soon see if Fisher's play ultimately pays off for the Lakers. It sure looked like it did last night.
Basketbawful's take: Like I said, Wild Yams handled the Rockets-Lakers section, but here's my two cents. First, I loved Ron Artest's post-game rant: "I knew I was going to get a technical foul. The point was to let the refs know this guy was elbowing me. I know I went over there with no punches, no shoves to the face, just a confrontation. I told him, 'You're hitting the wrong person. Don't you know you're hitting Ron Artest?" Besides the fact that I'm pretty sure Kobe knew exactly who he was hitting, it could be argued that Ron-Ron's "Don't you know who I am?! I'm Ron Artest bitch!" attitude is a big part of the reason Mamba delivered that particular cheap shot...because he probably figured it might set Artest off. Oh, and by the way, Kobe swung that elbow intentionally:
Again, if the league wants to stay consistent in the way it hands down its rulings, Kobe -- like Dwight Howard, who threw his elbow Samuel Dalembert's way earlier in the playoffs -- will be suspended a game for his shenanigans. Particularly in light of the crap he pulled on Shane Battier in Game 1. (And don't think for one second that the Rockets didn't send a video of that incident to the league offices.) As for Fish, well, he was ejected, as he should have been. I'm don't think his bully-boy tactics deserve any further punishment. By the way, how about a little...
Update! Ron Artest, post-game interview machine: Oh. My. God. Best post-game interview ever. Listen and hear about how one of Ron's friends once had a table leg thrown right through his heart. Oh yes, he says it. Update!Scott did some crack detective work and discovered that Ron-Ron was telling the God's honest truth!
Lacktion report: Chris provides another fresh blast of playoff lacktivity.
Magic-Celtics: After the Game 1 comeback-that-wasn't, Doc Rivers repositioned his team to set the clock early on the regular garbage pickup time. While Stan Van Gundy did bring out Jeremy Richardson to lack it up with a turnover and brick in 2:26 for a +2 suck differential, the Celtics went on an investment spree that would make Scrooge McDuck proud. Tony Allen swore off Bowser by turning an 8-second Super Mario (as the 3rd quarter wound down) into a full 1.8 trillion, while Gabe Pruitt honored his NBA Cares human interest segment with a donation of 1.65 trillion. And Bill Walker had a rather pedestrian +2 in that same 1:40 as Pruitt, fouling and bricking once each.
Mavs-Lakers: A game more known for the hard physical play of Derek Fisher, Kobe, and Ron-Ron had just enough garbage time to produce minute-sapping unproductivity. Brian Cook and James White played Wii Tennis for 43 seconds with Clutch the Bear, becoming tonight's Mario Brothers! (Cook also added a brick from the Toy District for a +1).
Josh Powell cabled his way to a +2 in 3:20 via giveaway and foul, also scored as a 2:0 Voskuhl. And Andrew Bynum maintained his own recurring tribute to THE Jake with a 8:39 stint that saw no points scored despite a board, steal, assist and block: two bricks and three fouls earned a 3:1 Voskuhl ratio!
Update! Dirk Nowitzki: Okay. Take a quick glance at this horrid beast:
What does this shocking monster have to do with the Flying Dutchman? Well, she's the wanted criminal who was hanging out at Dirk's crib. Prior to her arrest, anyway. Oh, and she may or may not be Nowitzki's girlfriend. Memo to Dirk: I know you're a big, fluffy German marshmallow...but you can do better than that. Really. (Thanks to La Dolce Vita for the link.)