Last night, I watched the Houston Rockets open their season in Los Angeles against the Lakers. All week, there has been discussion around Kobe Bryant and whether or not he will continue to force a trade out of Los Angeles.
Here is the boxscore from last night's game:
-Hiring Rick Adelman as the head coach of the Rockets was a great move. He will bring more innovation to Houston's offense and they will take advantage of the team's personnel. Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are in the prime of their career and it would be a waste for them to continue to play in a slow-down, pull-the-ball-out type of offense.
-Shane Battier is a perfect fit in Adelman's offense. When Houston plays Battier at power forward, he brings a great deal of versatility that fits very well with the rest of the team. His ability to pass the ball - ala Chris Webber - could be the key to their offense running smoothly.
-The fact that Yao Ming's scoring average has improved every year of his five-year career is something that probably does not get enough attention. The key for him this year will be to stay healthy for the majority of the season. The last two regular seasons he has missed a combined 61 games.
-It may take Adelman awhile to figure out who will fit best at point guard with the team's new offensive philosophy. Rafer Alston is currently the starting point guard, but he makes too many bad plays and struggles to properly run his team's offense in the half court game. Mike James is much more of a shooting guard and Luther Head has never shown the ability to play any position beyond shooting guard.
-Mike James could end up fitting in perfectly with Adelman's team as long as its at the off guard spot. Like Bobby Jackson did in the past with his Kings teams, James can come off the bench and score in bunches. As an undersized shooting guard, he takes advantage of his speed and quickness and can be instant offense.
-It wouldn't suprise me if by the end of the season, neither Alston or James is the teams' starting point guard. Adelman may give Aaron Brooks a chance at some point during the year. Trading for a point guard may be the end solution for the Rockets to take the next step.
-Bonzi Wells looked noticeably thinner and ready to play this season for his former coach. If he can get back to the way he played in the 2005-06 season, it would be a real boost for Houston. He provides a great deal of versatility by being able to post up smaller defenders and rebound terrifically.
-Bryant certainly seemed to want to silence his critics lsat night as he score 53 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had eight assists, two steals, and a block. As they showed last night on the broadcast, in games where Bryant scored at least 40 points last season, the Lakers went 13-5. Perhaps Bryant scoring almost a half of his teams' points may be the key to the Lakers success this season.
-The Lakers roster is severly flawed by my account. They have too many hustle-type guys and not enough talent. Guys like Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmar, and Cobe Karl work hard, but should not be playing on a nightly basis. However, some may put Luke Walton into that category, but I really like what he does for the team. He is a terrific passer, works hard on defense, and can even post up a bit.
-I think Phil Jackson should consider getting Javaris Crittenton some playing time. I recognize this was only the first game of the season, but Crittenton is a big guard who I think would look great next to Bryant. Ideally, I think you would have Crittenton starting the game and playing significant minutes and finishing the game with Derek Fisher in his spot on the floor. Fisher obviously has been there before and can hit big shots, but at this point in his career, should not be playing 30+ minutes per night.
-That game winning shot by Shane Battier took a lot of guts and was taken very deap. It would have been great to have seen this game gone into overtime and watch what Bryant would have done then. I'm guessing he would have finished with 60 points or so and the Lakers would have won on opening night. Hats off to Battier for playing great all night and hitting a really tough shot to win the game.