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Shane Battier

While the Houston Rockets got an impressive Game 1 win against the Los Angeles Lakers last night, some of their players had to pay for the win with blood. Particularly, Shane Battier. Not only did the Rockets go-to defender have to check Kobe Bryant for most of the evening — while doing a respectable job — he paid a physical toll as well. Not only did he have to take a thigh to the face and an elbow the back of the head from Bryant, unintentional or not, Battier also took an elbow to the eyebrow from Sasha Vujacic.

The result was four stitches and a face full of blood.

As for his Kobe Bryant entanglement — hinted at in the lead image — Battier paid the price for trying to create a turnover:

Shane Battier
H/t to TBL for the gif

Intentional or not, taking one of Kobe’s elbows to the back of the head can’t feel too great. As for the series itself, this physical play is only a preview of what we should see throughout. Houston is a physical, hard-nosed defensive team, and it’s safe to say folks like Kobe don’t like being defended that way.

It’s easy to see this series escalating into a grudge match; well, as close as we can get to one in today’s NBA — sorry, no Boston/Detroit fights for you — with an increase of hard fouls and bad blood. In other words, great playoff basketball.