Do little girls want to be dragged away from their My Little Pony playsets to be put on display at the NBA Finals? Based on this picture, the answer is "very no."The Celtics in the first quarter:
It was like a psychedelic flashback
to Game 4, only without the singing pixies and dancing fruit (or was that just me?). Boston started the game out-of-synch both offensively and defensively (and that's putting it kindly). Kevin Garnett got in early foul trouble and had to sit. Kobe went kill-crazy (four three-pointers and 15 first-quarter points). Next thing you know, the Celtics were down by 19 points. The quarter ended Los Angeles 39, Boston 22.
Frankly, I place most of the blame on Doc Rivers. The Celtics optimum lineup right now is KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, James Posey and Eddie House. It's as clear as the nose on Michelle Kwan's face. (By the way, what was up with that potato sack
she was wearing last night? You've got a figure skater's body, Michelle. Show it off
.) But instead of succumbing to common sense -- like even the dumbest fantasy sports manager would have done -- and using what worked to perfection in Game 4, Doc started Rajon Rondo at the point and Leon Ka-Powe(for the injured Kendrick Perkins) at center.
It was a stupid move that had catastrophic results. By starting Rondo and Powe (who was quickly replaced by P.J. Brown), Doc played right into the Lakers hands. And those hands went straight around the Celtics' collective throat and started choking a bitch.
Like most coaches, Doc wants to stand by the guys who got him to the Finals. Which is fine...when it's working. When it's not, it's like watching somebody with a head wound try to read random words out of a medical text. In other words: Painful
. And while a applaud Doc's loyalty, facts are facts: Rajon Rondo is killing the Celtics right now. The Lakers don't have to defend him, and Rondo knows
it. He's completely lost confidence in his offensive game. In the first quarter, he drove to the hoop, had an uncontested layup, and then passed back out for a semi-contested three-ball. It was bad. Like, "it hurts when I pee" bad.
When Rondo's on the floor, he's "defended" by Kobe Bryant, who gets to roam around, double-team at will, and gamble for steals (and Mamba had 5 of them last night). And that disrupts everything Boston is trying to do on offense. End the charade, Doc. Bench Rondo. It has to happen. Maybe he'll spend the summer developing a laser-accurate jump shot. Which will be great...for next season. Right now, Rondo like a human bitchslap to his own team.The Lakers in the second quarter:
They had everything in their favor -- momentum, a huge lead, Jack Nicholson's man-boobs
-- but it didn't matter. Let it be known that these Lakers are good enough to build a huge lead and then lose it lickety-split. Boston outscored L.A. 30-16 in the second stanza, with Paul Pierce (18 points on a jillion freethrows) playing the part of the One Man Gang
. Pierce is good -- maybe better than any of us thought -- but the Lakers made him look positively legendary by playing matador defense
, 7-11 defense
, and every other kind of bad defense they could think of. And then they had a game on their hands.Rajon Rondo:
Shades of Sherman Douglas. (Yes, I said it.) Rondo played 14 and a half minutes last night, which is about 14 more minutes than he should have gotten. He bricked six of his seven field goal attempts, had two shots blocked, missed a freethrow, passed up an uncontested layup, and prevented his teammates from getting open looks because the Lakers can completely ignore his "offense." But the most crap-tastic sequence of Rondo's night happened in a 30-second span of the third quarter. First, he missed an open four-footer. Then he fouled Fisher on a jump shot, giving up an "unconventional three-point play" (as Mark Jackson put it). After that, he jumped in the air and threw the ball right to the Lakers, who ran it down court and turned it into a three-pointer by Vlaidimir Radmanovic. Disastrous is putting it lightly.Kevin Garnett:
KG had a double-double (13 points, 14 rebounds). He also grabbed 7 huge offensive boards. But he hurt the Celtic cause by getting into foul trouble in the first half. Sure, one of the fouls was of the ticky-tac
variety, and there was no contact whatsoever
on another. But he earned his third by foolishly slapping at a Pau Gasol shot. As much as I hate to agree with Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy at this point, KG shouldn't have tried to make that play under those circumstances.
Garnett also bonked two crucial freethrows when Boston was trailing 95-93 with 2:31 on the clock, and then he missed a kinda-sorta easy tip-in with 26 seconds left and the Celtics down four. Hey, if I can say Kobe didn't come through in Game 4 -- and he didn't -- then I have to call out KG for not coming through in Game 5. But I'll say this for Garnett; he didn't give any excuses or blame teammates. His personal assessment of his performance was spot-on
: "It was trash. I played like garbage tonight. I can do better and I will." Let's hope the second half of that quote turns out to be as true as the first half.Kobe Bryant, quarters two through four:
After his fire-and-lightning first quarter -- 15 points, 5-for-8 shooting -- I figured Mamba was on his way to a 40-point night. But from that point forward, Kobe scored 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting and committed a game-high 6 turnovers. Still, with 41 seconds left and his team up by only two points, Kobe made the play of the game, knocking the ball away from Paul Pierce and then receiving a length-of-the-court pass from Lamar Odom for a gamebreaking dunk.
That said, it was was a dangerous, gambling play. And let's face it: There was a lot of arm and body on that "steal."
Had he been anybody but
Kobe Bryant, there probably would have been a whistle. And had he not "tipped the ball," Pierce would have been in great position to score or dish to an open teammate. So yeah, it worked and everything...but it was a bad play.Pau Gasol:
The Spanish Marshmallow had a fantastic game: 19 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, zero turnovers and a couple blocked shots. (And I'm telling you, it felt like he had three times that many rebounds.) But I have to say this: I am sick and bloody tired of Pau screaming and flailing after every shot he takes inside. At one point in the third or fourth quarter, KG slapped Pau's hand on a layup attempt, after which Pau wailed and flopped to the floor. Manu Ginobili would have been proud, but I just threw up a little.The shooting of Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic:
The two guards combined to miss 15 of 20 shots, which isn't exactly the kind of marksmanship that's going to spread the Boston defense and give Kobe room to work.The incompetence of Luke Walton:
As Basketbawful reader Jimmy pointed out, he had more fouls (5) than points (2) passed up on an easy alley-oop to Kobe in order to take a stop-and-popper. A couple of those fouls were committed at halfcourt. I can see that happening once, but twice?!Ronny Turiaf and Trevor Ariza:
They combined for 1 turnover and 2 fouls in just over two minutes of lack-tion.Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson:
Did the Lakers play great? No. Did they almost blow another game in which they jumped out to a ginormous lead? Yes. But this is the Finals, and whether you win by 1 or 100, it's still a W. But that didn't keep coach and mini-coach from freaking out on the Lakers after they had all but wrapped the game up. Said Van Gundy: "If you're the Lakers and want to win it all, you're disappointed in this game. Added Jackson: "You've got to close out games better. You're fortunate to go back to Boston." I guess they ran out of ways to fluff each other up.
Phil Jackson, quote machine: He's always good for a zinger or two. This time, it was aimed at his own team. Although, with him, I guess you never know whether it's supposed to zing or not. Anyway, regarding his team's chances of going on to win two straight in Boston, Phil said: "We're young enough and dumb enough to be able to do this." Young and dumb? Yes. Enough so to be able to break through twice
in Boston? TBD.The 2-3-2 format: As I pointed out last week
, this format was instituted for the express purpose of increasing the chances that the Finals would last at least six games. Which is what happened. Because let's be honest: The Lakers would not have won this game in Boston. Somewhere out there, David Stern is being forced to deal with a 10-hour erection.Larry Bird: As Evil Ted pointed out
, it was mentioned on air last night that Larry Legend called Luke Walton to wish him luck in the Finals. Uh, Larry, I hate to point this out to you...but Luke Walton is a Laker
. Larry wishing a Laker good luck is like Captain America giving Hitler advice on how to cook people. How far has Larry fallen when he's wishing Lakers players good luck? Don't bother answering that, I'll go ahead and tell you: Very, very far.Doug Christie:
The best thing to come out of the latest chapter of the Tim Donaghy scandal has to be Doug Christie crying about it on his blog
(" am devastated to the point of feeling physically sick!"). Here's (to me) the money paragraph: "It's hard enough that you are facing the defending champs, hall of fame players and coaches, but you are also playing 5 on 8 (come on!). This is really disheartening. You work hard, play hard and it's all bull. But, it's what you see and the consumer believes it. Whoever 'they' say are the 'champs' are the 'champs' (deserving or not). 'They' are controlling the whole thing. What really makes me mad in the turn of events since then is the fact that these events have turned into what I consider a black balling of myself in the NBA!!" Huh. And here I thought his wife was the one who was black-balling him. Or maybe she's just blue-balling him...
And here's some bonus Christie, regarding why he's, you know, not playing. "Last season ('07/'08), I go in the gym with the Sonics and Trail Blazers (not to mention the GMs that I spoke to personally) and outplayed 90% of their guys. The only thing my agent told me they were interested in was my relationship with my wife, what happened before, or why did I leave the Clippers??? Truth be told, my family and I were dealing with the same old lies and workers starting trouble with us. I'm not willing to deal with that! I just want to go and play the game that I love. So, that makes me weird, huh?!? Maybe if I was fighting with my wife and flirting with people, I would still be playing or at least going out on my own terms!" I have no comment.
Labels: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals, officiating, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo