Things went from bad to worse for the Lakers. After getting abused for 96 minutes by the one team still left in the playoffs known for never playing all 48, L.A. now faces a Game 3 on the road tonight without their starting small forward, Ron Artest, who either lost his mind and went Rambo on J.J. Barea or decided it was a good time to have an impromptu game of limbo. He was suspended by the NBA for that altercation in the closing seconds of the Mavs’ Game 2 win. Now, for those of us who watched the game, we all saw it coming. There were little clues along the way that Artest was going to do something crazy before the night was out. An elbow here, a late blow there, the fact that the back of his jersey reads “Artest.” It was predictable. He’s known for this, letting all of his frustration boil up until the last possible instant and then raining all Hell down on some unsuspecting victim. Why couldn’t Phil Jackson see it coming? Probably because he was too busy leaving Steve “I-look-like-a-deadeye-serial-killer-who-can-shoot-people-but-not-jumpers” Blake in the game to throw up heinous threes … Andrew Bynum probably cares very little about Artest. He’s channeling his inner Keyshawn right now, and letting everyone know they better give him the damn ball. And help him on defense. Bynum called it “trust issues” yesterday. We call it stupidity. Who else do the Lakers expect to help them win this series? Kobe is so beat up, he’s attempted just one shot at the rim through two games, Pau Gasol is frolicking in some far off land and the rest of the team couldn’t beat Mater Dei right now. Get Bynum the ball. All season long, he’s killed Dallas; guess who Bynum’s highest scoring average came against? That’s right, Dallas, at 16.4 points in five games. We think we would take our chances with the guy who’s actually playing hard. Still, Magic Johnson had this to say on SportsCenter about his old Laker squads: “Pat Riley would have probably thrown Bynum off the team” … The Celtics are pinning a lot of hope on the return of Shaquille O’Neal. Well, maybe the players aren’t; they know he isn’t going to solve the Miami defense. But the media is. The reality is that the Diesel probably isn’t changing anything despite being expected to play in Game 3 on Saturday night. Even if he can get them easy buckets, he won’t be able to stay on the floor long enough to make a big difference. If the Celtics get back into it, it’ll be because Rajon Rondo quit messing around and started dissecting the Heat’s point guards, Paul Pierce stopped whining/making really annoying faces and started playing and because Kevin Garnett put an end to Chris Bosh‘s existence. Besides, Miami’s Udonis Haslem is just as close to coming back and seeing playing time. Who would you rather have? Honestly at this point, we might think about taking Haslem because even if Shaq really can play, how in shape could he be? During all of these months that he’s been hurt, how many sprints do you think he’s done? Probably no more than David Stern has. Or Greg Oden … Interesting question: with the Spurs already on vacation, and the Lakers and Celtics on the brink of quicker-than-expected exits, who has the brightest future? San Antonio has the great ownership, the Lakers have Kobe and the attraction of Hollywood and the Celtics have Rondo and a celebrated history … Jamal Crawford on Chicago’s Game 2 performance: “If that’s their best shot, we’re in good shape.” Insert Atlanta Hawks joke here … After 16 years as the voice of March Madness, we learned yesterday that play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson won’t be back with CBS. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract. Without him, it’s surely going to be different next year; now when the inevitable upset happens, we’re going to be listening to some old, crusty guy pretending to be hyped. A part of us all died today, but hey, lets petition to have him replace Dick Stockton. How much more fun would the NBA Playoffs be with Johnson? At worst, we won’t be hearing anymore about “David Rose.” Either way, we’ll miss this … Yesterday also marked the end of an era in Maryland basketball history. Gary Williams, the Terrapins’ coach for the past 22 years, suddenly stepped down, his frenzied style of coaching appearing to finally get the better of him at 66 years old. While Maryland has had a rough couple of years, their teams of the late 1990s to early 2000s were awesome … We’re out like Gus and Gary.
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