Lakers Survive, Advance to Game 6

06.16.08 9 years ago 96 Comments
IMAGE DESCRIPTIONLamar Odom (photo. Tim Tadder)

On the same day Tiger Woods gave another lesson in being clutch, three VIP’s from this Lakers/Celtics series who have been called upon to step up when it’s winning time — Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — all had varying degrees of success in Game 5 at the Staples Center. For Kobe, he started off red-hot, knocking down four threes and scoring 15 points in the game’s first eight and a half minutes. But from that point on he lost his shooting stroke, and after L.A.’s 19-point second half lead shrunk to zero, Kobe made his biggest plays on the defensive end and by simply protecting the ball at times when it seemed his teammates were dying to turn it over. Down the stretch Kobe (25 pts, 8-for-21 FG’s, 7 rebs, 5 stls) missed a lot of shots and made some poor decisions with the ball, but ultimately his team got the W and stayed alive for Game 6 … Pierce, on the other hand, was consistently carving up the Lakers all night. Overheard while we were watching the game: “How does he get to the basket whenever he wants to?” Pierce isn’t particularly fast, not especially quick, plus he has next to no hops and a slow release on his jumper, and still no one could stop the guy. He finished with 38 points, six boards and eight assists, but committed some crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter, one of which led to Kobe’s breakaway dunk that should have been the dagger (were it not for Eddie House‘s last-ditch three). Boston fans will of course say Kobe should have been called for fouls on those turnovers, but bottom line is that Pierce lost the ball either way … Then there was Garnett (13 pts, 14 rebs). He completely soiled himself down the stretch; missing free throws, missing layups and committing silly fouls. Is there any correlation between KG’s continual choke-jobs in this series and the fact that we’ve seen a sharp decline in the Gatorade “League of Clutch” ads? Or maybe they’re still airing all the time and we’ve managed to tune them out … Weirdest coaching move of the game: With a little more than a minute remaining and Boston trailing by two, Doc Rivers pulled Sam Cassell in favor of Tony Allen for defensive purposes. Questionable one, considering Cassell (9 pts) had actually been getting buckets in the fourth quarter, and two because Tony checked in and proceeded to guard Jordan Farmar. What’s the point of putting a guy in strictly for defense when you’re having him stick someone who’s probably not going to touch the ball? Granted, Farmar was having a decent game (11 pts), but he wasn’t destroying the Celtics or anything … Second-weirdest coaching move: Phil Jackson putting Chris Mihm into the game in the first half for about three minutes. To quote Jeff Van Gundy, “I lost my train of thought when I saw Mihm.” Has he been killing in practice or something? Upon review, there were several times when you saw Pierce driving to the cup during that short span and Mihm getting beasted under the hoop … Tony Allen’s other standout moment came when Vlad Radmanovic was shooting a three in front of Boston’s bench and Tony jumped up screaming and clapping in Vlad’s ear. That’s so bush league. One of these days a team’s bench is going to draw a tech for some of the craziness that goes on. Cassell damn near blocked one of Farmar’s shots from the bench earlier in the game, and we remember a game earlier this season when the Rockets bench — led by Dikembe Mutombo — was almost forming a circle around an opponent who had the ball in the corner and screaming at him … Way to come though with the ‘hood suit, Kendrick Perkins. He looked like Kanye West on Gigantor pills. And we’re not sure if that was a watch on Perk’s wrist or a diamond-studded microwave … So Lamar Odom finally plays his best all-around game of the series (20 pts, 11 rebs, 4 blks) and he punctuates it by getting kneed in the coin purse inadvertently by Pierce. Where’s the justice? … Pau Gasol also had a real solid game, putting up 19 points, 13 boards and six assists … That play where Sasha Vujacic unleashed a monster flop during a tie-up with Cassell, immediately followed by Vujacic having a three go halfway down and pop out, was proof that the basketball gods do exist … And on Boston’s ensuing possession, a pissed-off Cassell took Farmar to school, baiting him into an and-one that might have been Sam’s second-best play of the season … The Lakers intro video flashed a line that said, “For these brothers destiny lies within.” What does that even mean? … After Derek Fisher tried to use his butt to initiate contact on a defender then launched a step-back jumper that hit nothing but air, one of the Dime crew joked, “Who does he think he is, Chris Paul?” … Mark Jackson hit the nail on the head regarding Radmanovic when he said Vlad does just enough to keep both teams in the ballgame. Radmanovic couldn’t decide who he wanted to help more last night; he was knocking down potential dagger threes one minute, then repeatedly handing the ball over and getting WORKED defensively by Pierce the next … Who let that one kid in the crowd walk out of the house wearing a Lakers jersey over a green shirt? That’s an obvious no-no … Is Rajon Rondo going to be able to contribute for more than 15 minutes in Tuesday’s Game 6? He went 1-for-7 from the floor and had one play where he inexplicably passed up a completely wide open layup to kick it out to Pierce for a three-point try. At least he did more than Leon Powe, who started in place of Perkins (shoulder) and was never seen again after the game’s first five minutes … Bad call by the DJ to play the Rocky IV fight music card at halftime. That must have really put a charge into the L.A. fans who were buying concession-stand sushi at the time. And of course the players couldn’t hear it since they were in the locker room … Moving on to Game 6, one thing the Lakers need to do is play better pick-and-roll defense. They were abysmal last night, as the Celtics seemed to score every time they ran it in the second half. At home or on the road, they have to tighten up that part of their game, which even Kobe admitted immediately after the final buzzer … We’re out like Perk …

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