Oh, he’ll be suspended for Game 3. Two quick steps and a forearm shiver will do that, regardless if you’re Ron Artest or future Lakers head coach Derek Fisher. When Fisher blew up Luis Scola and his pick at the same time, Lakers/Rockets morphed from the best series in the playoffs right now to possibly a more entertaining matchup than Celtics/Bulls in Round 1.
While the Rockets’ win in Game 1 was the epitome of a Yao Ming game (halfcourt, tons of made free throws, nobody gets too excited), tonight the Staples Center went into the Artest Zone. Not that Artest really did anything wrong tonight. Kobe decked him in the throat with a right elbow that was sent with the intent to do damage, and he found himself out of the game based half on his reputation and half on the fact that he made a gesture that looked mighty close to a throat-slash. And the game wouldn’t have gotten so chippy in the first place had Fisher not decided to shut Scola up after the previous possession, when Scola got into it with both Lamar Odom and Luke Walton in what turned out to be a triple-technical situation.
Fisher won’t play in Game 3, but he may not need to. The Lakers aren’t helped as much by Fisher’s remaining basketball skills than the tone he sets. When he made the first shot of the game, the team fed off it. When Fisher recreated Robert Horry’s body slam of Steve Nash, he gave the Lakers the edge they were lacking. And he also forced Phil Jackson to stick with Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown during the fourth quarter, after seven quarters where Fisher couldn’t stop Aaron Brooks with a taser gun. Can Farmar and Brown keep the Lakers’ ship steady for an entire game in enemy territory? We’re about to find out.