I think that most people were surprised by the Rockets beating the Lakers last night, but I know some weren't. I was listening to Colin Cowherd the day before, and he had Jon Barry on and they were talking about how the Rockets had the defensive capacity to handle Kobe and the Lakers. Granted, Kobe wasn't 100% and the Lakers were utterly incapable of hitting some wide open 3-pointers, but still, some of the credit should deservedly go to the Rockets for their defense.

I took some clips from the 4th quarter showing how the Rockets used a combination of Shane Battier and Ron Artest in guarding Kobe last night. I felt both did as good a job as one could possibly do against Kobe (who still managed to score 30+). Here are the defensive sequences,

Move your Feet, Stay Down, Hands Up:

I've stressed this many times but I think from coach to player, it's something that isn't emphasized enough. Defense is played with the feet. Stay down, don't bite on pump fakes, and keep your hands up high chest to chest after the offense picks up the dribble. If the offense wants to jump up and try to shoot over your outstreteched arms, let them try,

Block Out, Rebound Down:

Call me old-school, but I don't really like teaching the run out. My philosophy has always been defense first, but I understand for fast-break coaches, they will teach the run out. Good offensive players often know when they've missed their shot -- great offensive players immediately go after the rebound once they know they've missed their shot. Here, Battier does a good job after contesting Kobe's shot, of blocking Kobe out, then rebounding down,


This series could go seven games, if the Rockets don't pull it out even sooner. Yao Ming made some clutch plays, even after he hurt his knee. Nobody expects the Lakers to continue to shoot 2-for-18 from 3-point land, Kobe will be fully recovered, the Rockets will need to find ways to shut Kobe down, and also close out the Lakers' shooters, that will be their biggest challenge. For the Lakers, they need to speed up the tempo, force some more turnovers so they can use their speed in transition.

For a new video on man to man defensive principles, check out Ralph Willard's new DVD on Man Defense to Equalize Talent. Coach Willard is the current head coach of the College of the Holy Cross. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.


  1. Bradpetehoops  

    May 5, 2009 at 8:58 PM

    Rockets are so solid!