May 6 - STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. The Lakers wanted to be more aggressive in this series but trying to match Houston's physicality they crossed the line that divides toughness with violence. And they weren't needing it because Kobe Bryant had a superb game to lead them to a 111-98 victory to tie it 1-1.
Kobe ended with 40 points shooting 59.2 % and provided what would surely be one of the highlights of the 2009 Playoffs when he throw a pass to himself of the backboard. Pau Gasol added 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks and did a great job on Yao Ming who got into foul trouble in the first half and ended with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Kobe was unstoppable from the beginning and had 15 points in a first quarter the Lakers dominated 39-25. In the second they lost a 15-point lead and went to halftime tied 57-57 only thanks Kobe's 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left.
The Lakers took the lead again with a 16-4 run to start the third but in their desire to prove they are a tough team, things went out of control at the end of the period. Luis Scola exchanged words with Odom and Walton and in the next play Derek Fisher (yes Derek Fisher) was called for a flagrant foul "two" and ejected for throwing an elbow (and body) as Scola was coming to set a screen on him near the top of the key. It was completely unnecessary, L.A. was leading 86-75 at the time and Fisher left his team without its starting point guard for the fourth quarter and will surely be suspended for game 3.
Later, in the fourth Kobe, who was was being pushed and fouled from behind by Artest throw an elbow at him. Artest was called for a foul, got mad, ran across the court to get Kobe and was ejected with 6:57 remaining. That play was crucial for the game because Artest was leading the Rockets with his 25 points and 5 assists but although the referees didn't saw the elbow, the NBA will review the images and if they consider it was above Artest's shoulders they could suspend the Lakers star as they did with Dwight Howard last week. Kobe taking the risk of being suspended has no explanation because he was completely dominating the game and neither Artest nor Battier were going able to stop him. He had also put an elbow and knee on the head of a fallen Battier in game 1. Kobe is the best player in the NBA despite what MVP votes say and the Lakers are the best team here and they should prove it playing good basketball.
Jordan Farmar, who almost hasn't played lately took Fisher's place in the final period and was good matching up with Aaron Brooks quickness. Odom replaced Andrew Bynum in the Lakers’ starting lineup. Bynum couldn't stay out of foul trouble again, committed 3 fouls and was scoreless with one rebound in 8 minutes. So tense was atmosphere of the game that Von Wafer was also "ejected" from it but not by the referees. He was sent to locker-room by his own coach Rick Adelman after an exchange of words.