Kobe Can’t Close Against OKC; Pierce Leads A Rampage In Philly

05.17.12 5 years ago
Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

So much has been made about age in this year’s NBA playoffs that everybody is overthinking the obvious. Here’s all you need to know: Young teams (Clippers, Thunder, Sixers) don’t win championships without experience, while old teams (Spurs, Lakers, Celtics) don’t win championships without youthful energy. It’s no more complicated than that. Like everything else in basketball, you need a balance. Last night’s two conference semifinal games were split between one older, energetic squad whose signature vets played like it was 2004 again, and one younger, experienced squad that showed incredible fourth-quarter composure … The basketball gods were clearly sleeping, because Oklahoma City was not supposed to win Game 2 over the Lakers. Not because of Kobe necessarily, but because of karma. Earlier in the day, the city of Seattle announced they’d reached an agreement with billionaire investor Chris Hansen to build a new NBA arena — the first step in the city getting its Sonics back. So in a fair and just world, there’s no way the Thunder should have won a playoff game on the same day Seattle was celebrating … But if you have to blame somebody on the Lakers for letting victory slip through their fingers, it would have to be Kobe Bryant. With two minutes remaining, L.A. was ahead by seven and OKC appeared to be done. But then James Harden drove and made a layup. Then Kobe (20 pts, 9-25 FG, 4 stls) threw a pass right into the hands of Kevin Durant, who took it in for a dunk. Then Kobe let a pass slip through his fingers out of bounds. Then Kobe had his jumper blocked by Harden (13 pts), who scored another layup on the other end. Then Kobe missed a three, and Durant (22 pts, 9-15 FG) coaxed in a soft baseline runner for OKC’s go-ahead bucket … But wait, there’s more. Down one with five seconds left, L.A. had the ball and another chance to win it. But Kobe couldn’t get open, forcing Metta World Peace to pass to a wide-open Steve Blake in the corner. Blake missed the three, and instead of immediately fouling Thabo Sefalosha on the rebound, Kobe was too busy yelling and stomping his feet at whoever (Metta, Blake, the refs, the situation) while the Lakers lost valuable seconds before fouling Thabo. And that was pretty much the ballgame … It was hard to tell which was uglier for the Lakers: The last two minutes of the fourth quarter, or the first two minutes. The quarter began with Kobe and Andrew Bynum (20 pts, 9 rebs) on the bench, leaving World Peace as de facto Kobe for a couple minutes. Chaos ain’t even the word. The first three possessions saw Metta barely catch rim on two mid-range shots and completely miss everything on a corner three. The next time the Lakers got the ball, Mike Brown called timeout and put Kobe in before Metta could give somebody a concussion with his next shot … Keep reading to hear about Boston’s humbling of an upstart Sixers team…

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Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce (photo. Gary Land)

Sticking with the age theme, Celtics/Sixers looked like a bunch of adults bullying some in-over-their-head children. Chris Webber (announcing for TNT) talked about Boston’s “grown-man defense,” and referred to the 76ers as “kids” following one of Doug Collins‘ endearing mid-game speeches that would’ve made Coach Eric Taylor proud. Secretly, though, you know Collins wanted to dust off his old uniform and take a crack at solving the C’s defense himself. The 107-91 final score wasn’t even indicative of how much Boston dominated … Paul Pierce broke out of his Iguodala-induced slump, putting up 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Pierce made it work by attacking, going 11-of-14 from the free-throw line and throwing down back-to-back driving dunks in the first quarter. Those were Jayhawk dunks, because Truth hasn’t been that high since he was catching Kenny Gregory‘s slipstream at Kansas … Kevin Garnett posted 27 points and 13 boards, while Rajon Rondo chipped in 23 points and 14 assists. Even the bench guys were beasting Philly. The C’s were so good that Ray Allen (25 mins, 3 pts) was able to play like Ray Romano and they still won big … A lot of people thought Game 6 of the Chicago series was Andre Iguodala’s defining moment as a Sixer, but now he has another defining moment scheduled for Friday. If Iguodala (10 pts) allows the Celtics to come into his gym for the second game in a row and smack his team around like they did last night, Philadelphia will never forgive him. Losing a close, competitive game is one thing, but if the Sixers get manhandled again, a lot of Philly folks will quickly forget about Iguodala’s series-winning free throws last week … Larry Bird was named NBA Executive of the Year, which seemed more like a reward for what he’s done the past 3-4 years as opposed to what he did this most recent offseason. Which we’re totally cool with, by the way. The additions of Dave West and George Hill were huge for the Pacers this year, but Bird also drafted Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough, and he had the foresight to give Frank Vogel his shot at being an NBA head coach. And it’s worked. We’d be afraid to see what Larry Legend could do with NBA 2K12 on Franchise mode; probably rack up 16-18 championships in 20 pretend-seasons … We’re out like Kobe’s clutch factor …

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