Jordan Farmar was on the court. Derek Fisher was on the internet, working his Twitter account (@derekfisher) and not in the building. Derek Fisher was not allowed to be in the arena as he was serving his imposed one game suspension. That was the price for the hard foul on Luis Scola in Game Two.

As the starting point guard, Game Three of the playoff series gave Jordan Farmar a chance to extricate himself from Coach Phil Jackson’s doghouse. And he did. He had a steady, energetic, focused performance: twelve points, seven assists, five rebounds, only one turnover and some containment of the Houston Rockets’ speedy guards.

The Lakers have to be impressed with Jordan Farmar’s performance. Although Derek Fisher likely will return to his starting job as point guard for Game Four, Jordan Farmar showed that he can be trusted to set the Lakers offense and to play solid defense. The Lakers can focus on some other concerns:

  • Sasha Vujacic was nicknamed “The Machine” for his consistency shooting the ball last season. During the pre-playoff season of the 08-09 campaign, Sasha Vujacic has struggled with his shot. The shooting woes continue. In Game Three, Sasha Vujacic had a miserable shooting statistic. He made one shot in six attempts. At some point, Phil Jackson will have to consider alternatives to a seventeen per cent (17%) perimeter shooter.
  • Lamar Odom did not miss any foul shots. Perhaps the more salient observation is that he didn’t take any foul shots. It is just a curious statistic on a night where he had sixteen points and thirteen rebounds.
  • In the rebounding category, the Houston Rockets dominated. The rebounding statistics were 56 – 43 in favor of the Rockets. At the offensive end, the Rockets almost doubled the Lakers production: 19 – 10. It is fortunate for the Lakers that they were shooting over fifty five per cent on their three point shots. That three point efficiency, however, fluctuates wildly from game to game.
  • If there was a category for ‘turning-down-open shots’, Luke Walton might be the team leader. Although Luke Walton did contribute six points on a two-for-six shooting performance, there were many open opportunities that were not taken. The impression is that Luke Walton has limited confidence in his shot. At some point, the opposition will force Lake Walton to put up his shots and really test his ability to score.
  • Perhaps the most impressive feature of the night for the Lakers was that they built a lead and maintained a lead. They were able to defend the point difference and prevent any late game dramatics. This is noteworthy in light of how many times this Lakers team has surrendered double digit leads.

In the closing minutes of Game Three, it was obvious that Yao Ming was struggling with an injury and having trouble moving. He continued to play. Yao Ming is recognized for his height and for his athletic skills at both ends of the court. For example, it is difficult to nearly impossible to stop him on the offensive end if he catches the ball deep in the low post position. In Game Three, Yao Ming showed the great pride that is also a part of his game. If he can play in Game Four, expect to see Yao Ming carry his team. He knows that if the Lakers win Game Four, the outcome of the series will be determined.

Catherine Forsythe