It’s a different story when Goliath knows what’s coming his way
Bombs Away! - Rockets ready to unleash another three-point barrage on Lakers
Battier’s tale isn’t unique, of course. In fact, it precisely highlights the same sort of theme which lies at the heart of Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant new feature on the art of the upset. The article argues that if David fights Goliath on the giant’s terms, Goliath will win nearly every time. But by bending the rules and defying convention, Davids everywhere can tilt the odds in their favor. It’s a reality witnessed not just in the Biblical narrative, but also on battlefields and basketball courts throughout history, as Gladwell so expertly points out.
All of which brings us to the reason behind Battier’s stroll down memory lane. Eight years after his Duke team overcame the loss of its best post player by unleashing a steady barrage of three-pointers, he finds himself in an eerily similar situation. Yao Ming is out, having been betrayed once again by a fractured foot. His absence leaves the Rockets woefully undersized; especially against a Lakers squad which boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to height and length up front.
Not surprisingly, Houston – having already entered its series with LA as decided underdogs – was instantly counted out the moment Yao’s injury news began circulating. Yet just like Battier’s Blue Devils, the Rockets immediately changed gears and shifted tactics, and the Lakers never knew what hit them. Featuring a starting line-up in which its tallest player was a mere 6-9, Houston dominated Game 4 by eschewing size for speed and quickness – and shooting lots and lots of threes. By changing direction midstream, the Rockets have stated their refusal to play by Goliath’s rules. They will do everything possible to fight the battle on their terms while accepting the results which follow. It’s admirable, sure. But in truth, they have no other choice.
FINAL SCORE, Game 5: LAKERS 118, Rockets 78
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If the biblical David had to win 2 of 3 match-ups vs Goliath he, too, would have been in a whole lot of trouble … just like the Houston Rockets find themselves in today, heading toward Game 6.