With 30 seconds left in the ball game Kobe posted up Shane Battier and when the double team came he wisely passed it up to an open Ron Artest who swings the ball with confidence as the ball went into the cylinder with Ron looking into the Rockets bench direction mocking them with a timeout sign.
Seconds later Trevor Ariza nailed a dagger three to force the game into overtime… Both players who played on the opposite team last year traded elbows and trash talk all the way to overtime. It was an emotional game and there’s no denying there is more to it than the 80 or less remaining games on the season. Yes there are technical fouls called and a couple or more times you see those heated words on the game this is all about pride and all about fitting in.
The Rockets depleted roster gave Ariza the starting position and with it he is also obliged to score and shoot at will with not much offense coming from their starters an unlikely scenario for the young forward who gets his offense on scrappy defense, fast breaks and open shots and now he is part of the offense with special plays made for him. Last preseason when Ariza was on a slump his former teammate Kobe Bryant texted him to take it easy and let the offense come to him naturally somehow it works in wonders when the 8 or 6 points average per game went into 21 average points per game for the Rockets early season games. Trevor is now the Rockets special weapon with a green light on offense.
While Ron Artest who was on the shoe of Trevor last year will have to have a controlled offense and focus more on his forte which is defense. It’s not that Artest is being told to shoot less it’s just that he doesn’t really need to shoot more with Kobe, Fisher, Pau and Odom giving them enough offense for the Lakers. The transition may be a bit hard for Ron when he used to command the ball and dribble more while he was still in Houston but his maturity comes in perfect time when he knows where to place himself and follow his role. Both players really fit in on both systems and amidst all the elbows and the trash talks at the end of it all when the final buzzer sounded both players exchanged hugs and embraced… with some side talk.. “We’ll see each other again”…