|06.18.10 at 4:01 pm ET|
After the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night’s Game 7, the Celtics‘ improbable run at banner 18 ended as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers repeated to win their second consecutive title. Despite the NBA season coming to an end, storylines after the game flowed like the streamers and confetti in the Staples Center. Here’s a roundup of what national and local writers are saying after the finale of a classic series.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column on this being Kobe Bryant’s most difficult title out of his five championships. After struggling in Game 7 and nearly shooting the Lakers out of the game, Bryant began to trust his teammates, especially in the fourth quarter, which brought him another ring.
‘ With his fifth ring, Bryant surpasses Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN. Magic, who has also won five championships, always won with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whereas Bryant has done it with and without Shaquille O’Neal, contends Broussard. Against other Lakers greats such as Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant outranks them with his handful of rings.
‘ Though he coached a team to a championship for the 11th time in his career, Phil Jackson‘s future is uncertain. T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times writes that Jackson has no idea where or he’ll be next year and that his salary might be too rich for the Lakers.
‘ Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that Pau Gasol and not Kobe Bryant is the true MVP of the finals. Ryan writes that Gasol was the real closer with his offensive rebound and basket in the final two minutes to cap off his 19-point, 18-rebound effort. While Bryant had some great performances in the series, it was Gasol who was the most consistent Laker.
‘ On the Boston side, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports views a lot of changes on the way for the Celtics. The most uncertainty is with the decision coach Doc Rivers will have to make on whether or not to return. The 48-year-old could depart the Celtics to spend more time with his family in Orlando and watch his sons play basketball.
‘ Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston writes that despite being an unrestricted free agent this summer, Ray Allen still wants to return to the Celtics. The question will be how much is Boston willing to pay and will Allen take a discount to stick with a very close group? Forsberg feels that at 35, Allen is getting up in age and likely won’t see a contract more than two years.
‘ The most surprising piece of information that came out after Game 7 was the news that Rasheed Wallace could retire after only one year with the Celtics. Gary Dzen and Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe write that after the loss, Rivers revealed that Wallace might walk away from the game. Wallace struggled to get through Thursday night after experiencing cramps and strains as he filled in for the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. The 35-year-old has played in three finals and made four All-Star teams.
|06.18.10 at 7:50 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Was the tank on empty? It was the same question asked after Game 7 against Orlando in 2009. And it’s a question that could linger with the Celtics all summer long after dropping the seventh and decisive game to the Lakers Thursday night at Staples Center.
The Celtics had built leads of 23-14 after one quarter, 40-34 at halftime and 57-53 going into the final period.
But the Celtics were outscored 30-22. And it’s the 30 points that most Celtics pointed to afterward as the real reason for the loss.
“Close is not enough,” summed up Glen Davis. “You’ve got to win it. This is the way it is. Someone else has to lose and it sucks. It’s how you look at it. It’s how you bounce back. I don’t know what’s going on with who’s coming back [next season]. But I’ll be ready when training camp comes around.”
Davis did acknowledge the play of one Laker in particular – Ron Artest. The forward burned the Celtics in Game 7 for 20 points, including a dagger of a 3 with just over a minute left that put the Lakers up six. He also ripped the ball from Davis’ own hands on a loose ball rebound with just under two minutes remaining and the Celtics down one possession.
“Artest was the difference in the game,” Davis said. “He wanted it. He took it from us.”
In the end, like everyone else in green, the next three months could be very difficult to stomach.
“It’s going to be a a long summer because of this. But, like I said, somebody has to lose and you have to take the approach in a positive way and look forward to next year.”
|06.18.10 at 7:24 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — No one took Thursday night’s loss harder than Tony Allen.
He was walking out of the Celtics dressing room and took a right-hand turn before bravely making a U-turn and agreeing to meet with reporters outside. He was the first Celtic player to try and express what had just happened.
Clearly heart-broken, he tried to come to grips with losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 83-79, as the Celtics fell short in their bid to win title No. 18. The Lakers won their 16th by rallying in the fourth quarter, outscoring Boston, 30-22.
“Definitely a tough one to swallow,” Allen began. “What I am going to say is I love this group of guys. It’s just a really emotional time for me. Just a tough one to swallow right here.”
“I definitely want to see this group back but who knows,” Allen continued. “It’s not that surprising. We fought hard to get here it’s just a real unfortunate Game 7 for us to lose.
“I definitely want to see Doc back. I don’t know. It’s tough right now.”
With those words, Allen became choked up and was excused by the group of reporters.
|06.18.10 at 7:12 am ET|
|06.18.10 at 2:40 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen called the Game 7 loss to the Lakers Thursday night “one of the hardest feelings” of his life after the Lakers rallied for an 83-79 win over the Celtics at Staples Center, the first time in five tries the Lakers have beaten Boston in a Game 7.
Allen, in what could be his final game as a Celtic, finished with 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
“It’s disappointing,” Allen began. “This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this one out. That’s probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch. It didn’t go our way.”
And the mood in the locker room after what could be the final game together for these particular group of Celtics?
“Tears, just a lot of tears,” Allen said.
And would he return?
“It’s hard to think about playing,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason. It’s tough to see it end this way.
“I’m extremely proud,” Allen continued. “We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed true to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.”
|06.18.10 at 1:22 am ET|
‘You know, I don’t know if Rasheed will ever play again,’ Rivers said. ‘You know, he’s one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.’
Wallace, 35, started in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins. He posted 11 points and 8 rebounds in 36 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Wallace propelled the Celtics early in the game by providing a much-needed post presence and was effective at scoring down low. (In typical Wallace fashion, he also mixed in a critical 3-pointer.)
But eventually Wallace, who suffered back spasms during the postseason, became hampered by injuries. He could no longer serve as an option at the basket for the Celtics, a huge loss when they were already playing without Perkins.
‘We had to keep subbing him for one minute and two minutes, and I thought the reason we got up early was because of Rasheed Wallace,’ said Rivers. ‘We got it low in the post, he started scoring, and I thought what happened was late in the game he got tired and had the injuries and we couldn’t go down anymore. And I think that had a huge impact on how we were playing. We had to go away from the post almost because of fatigue. You know, it’s the first time all year that you can actually say at the end of the day we were old at the end of the game because we didn’t have a enough bodies. I thought it hurt us.’
Wallace is under contract next season and has a player option for 2011.
If Game 7 turns out to be Wallace’s last game, he lived up to the expectations set by his previous postseason success. After an inconsistent first regular season in Boston (9.0 points, 40.9% FG, 28.3% 3PG), Wallace made it clear why he had signed with the Celtics.
‘I didn’t come here for the regular season,’ he said during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On Thursday, he proved he was there to win a championship. Even though the C’s fell short, Wallace left no question that he had come to the Celtics to help them achieve postseason success.
Said Rivers, “He was a warrior.”
|06.18.10 at 12:07 am ET|
The Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday night, 83-79, falling short of their 18th championship. Here are five things that went wrong in the deciding game. (Click here for a recap of the Celtics’ loss.)
1. The Celtics gave it away – The Celtics were in control. They had the momentum and the confidence to get it done ‘¦ before they let it all slip away. The Celtics led by 10 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter and had taken away the Lakers biggest weapon. But they began to miss shots and the Lakers were there to grab the rebounds. The C’s scored just three points in the final four minutes of the quarter and only led by four going into the final 12 minutes. The Lakers immediately got within two points seconds into the fourth, while the Celtics did not score for nearly three minutes. Bryant made three free throws to cut the Celtics advantage to one, and banked another two minutes later to give the Lakers the lead. Bryant scored four consecutive points to pull the Lakers ahead by four with 5:22 left, and they never looked back. The Celtics played catch up for the rest of the game as Bryant, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol made critical baskets.
2. Kobe Bryant – The Celtics have battled past superstars the entire postseason, each time prevailing with team basketball. But after defeating Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard, they could not overcome the individual performance of Kobe Bryant. The Celtics held Bryant to just eight points (3-14 FG) in 22 minutes in the first half. When Bryant began to find his rhythm, though, the C’s failed to find an answer. Bryant scored 15 points in the second half, including four straight to tie the game and give the Lakers the lead with less than six minutes left. He finished the night with 23 points. It wasn’t his best offensive performance, but he made the shots when it counted.
3. Rebounding – The Celtics have said the entire series that the team that wins the rebounding war wins the game. On Thursday, they won neither. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 53-40, including 23 offensive boards. This can’t be pinned on the injury of Kendrick Perkins, either. He alone doesn’t account for a 13-rebound differential. The Celtics had players capable of rebounding, but in the end, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant combined for 33 boards while only Paul Pierce rebounded in double-digits for the C’s. Kevin Garnett, who the Celtics desperately needed defensively, grabbed just three rebounds.
4. Ray Allen – His monumental 3-point performance is all but forgotten after Ray Allen’s offensive struggles continued through Game 7. Allen shot just 3-for-14 from the field and scored 13 points. While he deserves credit for playing tough D on Bryant, his lack of production at the basket hurt the Celtics in a situation where they needed everyone scoring at full potential.
5. They Played Lakers Ball – The Celtics dominated the first half by feeding off their fundamentals of tough defense and team basketball. In the second half, however, it became showtime for Bryant and the Lakers. The Celtics failed to put together productive offensive possessions, rushed shots, and attempted forced baskets. In the end, they were forced to put the Lakers at the line, where they were outscored 25-15. They C’s began the season by beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland with Celtics basketball, and ended it by losing to the Lakers in Los Angeles by falling victim to their opponent’s game.
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