I almost felt sorry for them on Mother’s Day at the Toyota Center in Houston, a game they trailed by 29 points in the fourth quarter. It was like watching a Toyota race, with the Tundra outracing the Camry in a lopsided finish that never had a chance bustling to the finish line. If you've already erased embarrassing and inexcusable memories of the Lakers 99-87 loss to Houston, timing is now perfect. Before, a horrific contest worried spectators plenty to raise concern. They weren’t the most talented team in the league or the most intimidating, instead the most humiliating team in the league as the Rockets were dominant without sizable force or a superstar shooter.

Underestimating the Rockets' abilities, intensified unstoppable and perilous shooting that eroded the Lakers. The defensive debacles mustered elusive debates about their problematic fiascoes. Forgive the Lakers of any disastrous troubles after turning humiliation into dominance, with a sense of urgency and cohesiveness. Forgive them of any lethargy and credit them for containing the Rockets to 32 percent shooting, redeeming a dreadful rout and returning burdens to the optimistic Rockets, who were convinced it could pommel a topflight team, which embodies plentiful competence.

Got Lakers?

As it turns out, the Lakers are better removing doubt among fans, and renewed reliance by answering lingering questions of the sketchiness freeze in Game 4 of the semifinals. After it was over, the Rockets were well-deserving in stealing the series, convincing and overwhelming us for outweighing the league’s slogan “Where Amazing Happen” without 7-foot-6 Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, a pair of superstars who weren't factors. Wow. But it will not happen. When the Lakers mount to capabilities, it’s impossible to surmount an efficacious unit where teammates contribute and magnify stamina at each level. Any time the Lakers are aware and emotionally forcible on all cylinders, they're dominant and too formidable for the Rockets to handle or any one for that matter. It happens to be the Lakers as vengeance was delivered to preserve their largest playoff victory in 23 years, romping to a 118-78 win to snap out of shame and back into a top-level team.

A wakeup call was imperative for Los Angeles to return from a Mother’s Day vacation, mostly spent away from Lakerland and instead spent in LaLaLaLaLaLaLa Land. But they, finally, relinquished the daydreams to remove the wannabe nametag, and merited a legitimate nametag. For once in the series, the Rockets looked as if they are six seeded, looked as if they are a short-handed team, hampered with injuries of cornerstone superstars. Minus Yao, the Rockets are undersized, which they relied on his tallness and without him it changed dimension offensively as they’re currently starting a smaller center with 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes, who defends and seizes rebounds splendidly, and Luis Scola, the Laker-agigator is sufficient inside with his peskiness, which was displayed earlier in the series when Derek Fisher was ejected for throwing his forearm to knock Scola down to the court.

It is rationally good to assume it was a message sent to the Rockets for their dirty method, though it cost Fisher a one-game suspension after official’s whistled the call as a flagrant 2 and the league reviewed his unessential contact. Even a verbal altercation occurred when apparently Kobe Bryant swung his elbow to the face of bad-tempered Ron Artest, to flare up tempers as he ran to confront Bryant at half court. Still, we haven’t forgotten the infamous “Malice at the Palace”; an incident that convinced us that he was the NBA’s thug. And there would be much-malign trash-talking and back and forth feuds to lighten fireworks in a dramatic series. That’s what tempts spectators, though the Rockets dramatic postseason is sketchy and unfortunately without their superstars McGrady and Yao.

Finally, they advanced pass the first round, without McGrady contributing after season-ending knee surgery keeps him disengaged. There aren’t even too many finger gestures these days after block shots, since Dikembe Mutombo suffered a season-ending injury in the first round against Portland. But the dishearten lost came when an examination revealed that Yao broke his left foot, a problematic injury that limited each of his previous three seasons to miss 25 games in three of the last four seasons, but played 77 games this season and was a cornerstone to their championship contention with his skyscraper height advantage. And by thinking rational, the Lakers could have beaten the Rockets in a Mother’s Day matinee far distance from a distraught Jack Nicholson, who couldn’t handled the truth. It was defensive misjudgments that permitted assurance and gave the Rockets suitable outside looks ignoring perimeter shooting, which allowed them to break away from the Lakers in the first quarter and tear down spirit and morale, later to ensure cupcakes to embarrass the lifeless Lakers before realizing what was at stake.

Two days after humiliation, they finally are lively and taking the coveted Rockets serious. By asking Bryant, it’s obvious, redeeming a sluggish shooting night by responding early on. Like Mamba style, he drove to the rim often, not afraid to drive, including dropping electrifying three-point shots. Pau Gasol, the only Laker with a respectable performance in Game 4, outclassed the Rockets smaller team by blocking multiple shots and finishing with double-digit rebounds. Though, Fisher is gradually aging, he handled the emerging and explosive guard Aaron Brooks, remember he’s a second-year player who raised into stardom when dismantling the Lakers two days ago. That’s how fast defensive assignments could change dimension, and that’s how fast Fisher apprehended much at stake.

For once in his lifetime, he hassled and contained Brooks, and passed the tough test only allowing four shot attempts, mostly forcing him into shots to finish 0-for-3 from beyond the arch. Coming into the game we wondered if Lamar Odom could provide some stamina and explosiveness, indeed mission accomplished after listed questionable for a bruised lower back suffered in a 99-87 loss of Game 4 when he collided with Houston’s Shane Battier to land on back. He wasn’t confounded nor sleep, but alive in 19 minutes to score 10 points and collected six rebounds in a pivotal Game 5, with back treatment and a sore back, padded as if he was a hard-nose football star.

With a wakeup call, the Lakers awaken with a mammoth shooting clinic to punctuate cheers from a forgivable Lakers crowd, erasing the trivial and dishearten three-point demolition by Battier, who knocked down three after three after three, and counterpart Brooks, who’s versatility damaged the Lakers inside and outside. As clarity unfolds the Lakers weaknesses in the series, Phil Jackson seems like a brilliant mastermind and the real Zen Master if he was to start Jordan Farmar at point guard, a speeding guard who’s better defending and able to heckle a speedy Brooks for annoying and breaking down the Lakers mentally and physically.

They know a win here was pivotal, and if expected to transcend over Denver or Cleveland, clearly two teams in the league that’s the most dominant and threaten. And if the Lakers fail to come in with a serious mindset they could assuredly see either the Nuggets or Cavs hoist the trophy in June. They can’t afford to underestimate either team, without taking either one serious as many are convince the Nuggets will outplay the Lakers in the class Western Conference Finals, as some reckon the Cavs will overpower the Lakers with an indescribable season led by the league’s charismatic MVP LeBron James inspired and mentored them to a 66-win season, and curing a community with passionate sports fans who haven’t embraced a title since 1969, a year when Cleveland rocked. But it was good timing for the Lakers to start taking games momentous, and not assuming that a win comes effortless. And with seven of them scoring in double-digits, forcing 17 turnovers and penetration to outscore them in the paint the Lakers are tough to beat in 48 minutes. They sent creditable messages and mended confidence for the challenging weeks upcoming.

I think it’s enough to beg and sustain forgiveness.


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