The Los Angeles Lakers: So, uhm, L.A. in six, anybody? Anybody? Bueller...?
Yeah, well, that isn't going to happen. Obviously. Hey, maybe the Lakers should have chugged down some more mineral water before Game 5.
Not sure we can pin this one on Kobe. Dude was a one-man wrecking crew: 38 points, 13-for-27 from the field, 8-for-9 from the line, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. From the 4:23 mark of the second quarter until the 2:16 were left of the third, Kobe scored 23 straight Lakers points. But -- and you knew there was a "but" coming, right? -- Boston's lead grew from 1 point to 13 during that stretch.
Still, some of Mamba's shots were flat out sick. Check it:
I know this one was in that compilation, but it deserves a second look:
And yet, like I've been saying, Hero Ball doesn't seem to work for the Lakers. This was Kobe and the Lakers circa 2005-08. You know, when L.A. wasn't winning championships.
And it wasn't like Kobe's explosion was the only thing going L.A.'s way. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 16-7 on the offensive glass and scored 18 points off 17 Boston turnovers. They also doubled up on free throw attempts (26-13) despite the fact that the C's were more aggressive in the paint and playing at home.
That said, the Lakers' offense -- outside of the Return of Mamba -- stunk worse Sex Panther. L.A. finished with only 86 points on 39 percent shooting...which is part of a continuing downward trend. As Basketbawful reader Karc pointed out: "The Lakers scoring in this series is 102, 94, 91, 89, 86. And this is with Byrant scoring 38." What's more, the Lakers had only 12 assists as a team. Rajon Rondo had 8 by himself.
With Andrew Bynum shuffling up and down the court on a flat tire, Boston's defensive game plan has reverted to 2008 form: Force Kobe into the toughest shot possible while roughing up and shutting down everybody else. And it's been pretty effective the last couple games.
Of course, L.A.'s defense was a bigger problem than the offense. The Lakers looked dazed and confused all night. The Celts shot 56 percent for the game, including 66 percent in the first half. Boston also outscored them 46-32 in the paint and 14-3 on the fast break. Regarding that last stat...aren't the C's supposed to be the "old" team? Why can't all those young guys get back in transition?
And how many lapses do you count in Boston's game-breaking play?
Not saying that wasn't a great play by KG (the passer), Pierce (the receiver) and Rondo (the shot maker), but I'm pretty sure it could have been prevented by even slightly above average defense.
Part of the problem is that, unlike the Lakers, there's no simple defensive strategy to employ against the Celtics. A different guy can get hot on any given night. And, with Bynum hobbled, the paint never looked more open. Case in point: The Celts hit 17 of their 23 layup attempts. For fans of simple math, that's 74 percent accuracy.
Pau Gasol: Uh, Pau? Pau, you still there? Where'd you go, Pau? Other than Tony Allen's personal highlight film, that is.
Lakers officials have yet to determine whether Gasol actually made the trip to Boston after Game 2. His contributions have shrunk by the game. I mean, the numbers don't look awful: Last night, he had 12 points and 12 rebounds (7 offensive). But Pau was 5-for-12 from the field and never looked terribly confident in the post. As the series has been allowed to become more physical, Gasol has seemed smaller and smaller inside.
Andrew Bynum: Look, I understand he's hurt, and it's a testament to his desire that he's even out there playing. But 1 rebound in 31 minutes? And zero defensive rebounds? You know who Bynum reminds me off right now? Andre the Giant during his last few years in the ring. Vince McMahon basically had to send poor Andre out in a cart, prop him up in the corner of the ring, and ask his opponents to occasionally wander into the big man's grasp. Unfortunately for the Lakers, David Stern can't mandate that rebounds wander into Bynum's hands.
Rajon Rondo versus the Laws of Physics: I'm not a physics-ologist, but I'm pretty sure this shot wasn't possible based on the laws that currently govern our universe.
Rajon Rondo versus common sense: Rajon giveth and Rajon taketh away. One of the main reasons that the Lakers kept things close was Rondo's, ahem, iffy decision making. Rajon had a game-worst 7 turnovers, most of which the Lakers scored on. And there were several other times where Rondo turned down an easy pass for a much more difficult and ill-conceived pass. Some of those were TOs, others were just wasted opportunities.
I'll cut him some slack because he did, after all, score 18 points on 9-for-12 shooting. But he was forcing way too many things last night.
Ray Allen: You know why else the Lakers were still right there in the end? Because Ray Allen has forgotten where the basket it. Ray, hey Ray, look, it's over there, Ray.
[points to the basket]
In case you're keeping track, since setting an NBA record by hitting 8 treys in Game 2, Allen has gone 0-for-16 from downtown: 0-for-8 in Game 3, 0-for-4 in Game 4 and 0-for-4 again in Game 5.
Basketbawful reader J.R. dug a little deeper:
Interesting stat to share in regards to the suddenly bricklaying Ray Allen. After making his first seven three-pointers in the first half of Game 2, Ray Allen since then has gone 1-20 from the arc. Is this an unheard of, career worst streak of anti-clutchness for this normally reliable shooter?The worst part of Allen's slump is that, in Game 3, if he'd only had a bad game instead of a historically bawful one, the Celtics might have wrapped things up last night. Then again, Ray's shooting won Game 2, so maybe this is simply an amazing, real life example of the Law of Averages at work.
Not really. Just last year in the Orlando series, Ray-Ray went 2-22 from long range in Game 3 through Game 6 (including 0-fers in every game but Game 5).
Boston's crunch time nappy nap: You know why else the Lakers were still right there in the end? The Celtics went into "run down the clock" mode in the last five minutes. Not surprisingly, the 12-point lead they had with about three minutes left got uncomfortably small before they closed it out.
Said Doc Rivers: "I thought in the fourth quarter we tried to hold on to the game and didn't go get the game. We stopped playing the way we had for three quarters. We can't do that in L.A."
Kevin Garnett: KG had a fantastic game: 18 points (6-for-11, 6-for-7 from the line), 10 boards, 3 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocked shots and a shitload of defensive intimidation. But...c'mon...letting Derek Fisher [!!] out-leap him on a jump ball with 46 seconds left and the Celtics up by only 5 points was ugh-inducing. Fortunately for Garnett and the C's...
Ron Artest: When the season began, I said that Ron Artest's shooting would probably end up hurting the Lakers. Some people disagreed with me and pointed to his three-point percentage from the 2008-09 season, which was a little over 40 percent. I said that was an aberration year. Anyway, not to say I told you so or anything, but, well, I did.
During the playoffs, Ron-Ron is shooting 39 percent from the field, 27 percent from downtown and 54 percent from the line. Speaking of "from the line," after KG muffed that jump ball, Artest sped down court and got fouled by Paul Pierce. Then Ron-Ron stepped up to the line and bricked 'em both.
But wait, there's more: For the game, Ron shot 2-for-9 and finished with as many fouls (4) as rebounds and assists (2 each). And that amazing defense he was playing early in the series? I think Pierce (27 points, 12-for-21) has figured it out.
Don't you think that, somewhere, Trevor Ariza was munching on some nachos and feeling very vindicated?
Update! An anonymous commenter reminded me of the following: "And not only did Ron Ron brick his freebies he failed to foul Rondo (< 30% FT shooting so far) when he had the ball allowing the ball to be passed back to Allen wasting seconds on the clock and still ending up fouling the best FT shooter on the floor."
Phil Jackson: Dig this crunch time pep talk:
Now, I haven't coached my way to 10 NBA championships, so what do I know? But still, I don't think I'd tell my players to expect the other team to lose. I'd probably, you know, tell them to go out and take the game.
Kendrick Perkins: From Basketbawful reader Sam Lively: "I believe that Kendrick Perkins' mad attempt at leading and finishing a full-speed fast break despite having multiple guards in range for an easy pass, obviously the result of demonic possession (in fact such plays really should be called demonic possessions), is worthy of WotN mention."
Indeed it is.
Flopping: An anonymous reader posted the following comment in last night's BAD post: "Do give flopping a special mention in the WotN. Holy crap. I've never seen so many flops by so many different players in 1 game. By the end of the 4th no one was even playing anymore. Just throwing shit up awkwardly at the rim and flailing around on defense to draw a whistle."
Update! An anonymous commenter provided this video, which pretty much epitomizes last night's flop-a-palooza.
Boston fans...or at least one of them: Throwing stuff on the court while Kobe's shooting a free throw? Really?
Props to the fan that made this, tho'.
Kobe Bryant, quote machine: "The offensive part of the game kind of comes and goes. I just thought defensively we weren't very good at all. We didn't get any stops. They got layup after layup after layup, and you can't survive a team that shoots 56 percent. We're normally a great defensive team."
Paul Pierce, quote machine: Regarding the game-breaking play: "I was just showing off my Randy Moss and my Tom Brady in one play, that's all. Going up to catch it, then I went to my Brady mode when I was falling out of bounds to find Rondo on the receiving end. It was all instinctive."
Doc Rivers, quote machine, Part 1: "Bottom line is, when they won Game 3, from that point on, we felt every next game is a must win. Each game is a Game 7. We said it in Game 4, we said it today, and we'll say it again. That's how we have to approach the game. We lost our wiggle room by losing [Game 3]."
Doc Rivers, quote machine, Part 2: "He's the best shot-maker in the game. There's probably better athletes and all that, but there's no better shot-maker than Kobe Bryant. You've just got to live with it and play through it."
Phil Jackson, quote machine: "I thought we had a spirited locker room at the end of our [postgame] session there. We're upbeat about going into [Game 6]."
Lamar Odom, quote machine: "When we lose a game in November, I'm pissed off. If we played checkers and I lose, I'm pissed off. If we played a game on PlayStation or Xbox and I lose, I want to play you again. I'm always upset when we lose, but I can't hold on to it that long because we have a game we have to win on Tuesday. I have to put things behind me. Win or lose in the playoffs, I have to move on."
Ron Artest, quote machine: "No matter what it says on this stat sheet, we did it together. We did all this together."Everything we did, we did together."
Final Gaaahden event of the year Game 5 playoff lacktion report From Chris: "Shannon Brown sauteed a package of criminis in just 19 seconds for a non-celebratory Mario."