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Kobe credits Celtics defense

06.11.10 at 2:20 am ET
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Paul Pierce wouldn’t budge on the effectiveness of Ron Artest‘s defense. Kobe Bryant, though, was more generous with his praise after the Celtics Game 4 victory.

After shooting 10-for-22 for the second time this series, Bryant admitted the Celtics are doing their job on defense.

“They’re a great scheming team,” he said following the Celtics’ 96-89 win. “They have a strategy in place and they execute extremely well. I feel pretty comfortable. Wasn’t pleased with the way I took care of the ball tonight. I thought I did a horrible job of that. But it’s a great defense.”

The Celtics forced seven turnovers on Bryant, the most he committed since May 4 against the Jazz. He entered the game averaging just over three per game.

After the Lakers loss, Bryant denied questions of a tweaked knee or any type of exhaustion. The Celtics defense was simply effective.

Said Bryant, “Oh, it’s right up there with the best of them.”

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Paul Pierce

Lakers lament loss of Bynum

06.11.10 at 1:23 am ET
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The Lakers had to play almost the entire second half of  Game 4 without starting center Andrew Bynum, who was limited to just 12:10 overall as he continues to struggle with a right knee injury. Bynum was in the locker room to begin the second half, and played only 1:50 in the final two quarters. Without his presence in the middle (eight blocks in the first three games), the Celtics— particularly Glen Davis— were able to attack the basket throughout a key fourth quarter and even the series at two games apiece.

“We didn’t have that big presence in the middle, and Big Baby took full advantage of it,” said Kobe Bryant. “He played extremely, extremely well for them.”

Bynum, who had listed himself as “questionable” for Game 4 with the knee injury, clearly labored during his short time on the floor Thursday. He was far from the player that had averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in Games 1-3. The Lakers were also not the same team with Bynum as a non-factor.

“It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half,” said Phil Jackson. “He tried for a couple of minutes, but it just wasn’t there for him. We’re glad we have a couple of days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again.”

Should Bynum miss Sunday’s Game 5, Lamar Odom (39 minutes in Game 4) will almost certainly take his spot in the starting lineup. Odom hopes the change does not need to take place.

“Andrew is a big part of what we do,” noted Odom. “When we have him going we are a different team.

[With Bynum out] we have to protect the paint. We have to rebound as a unit especially without him out of the game to make up for his size and shot-blocking ability and the way he protects the rim as a seven-footer.”

But the Lakers will be prepared if they must play Game 5 without their center. Bynum has been far from an iron man during his career, having missed a total of 96 regular-season games over the past three seasons.

“We’ve played without him obviously in the lineup before,” said Bryant. “We got a good rhythm going with him in the lineup. We’ll just figure it out.”

One of Bynum’s fellow starters isn’t worried, however.

“It was tougher with Andrew out, but he’ll be fine for the next game.” said Ron Artest.

He’s going to be fine?

“Yeah. He’ll be ready to go.”

Three things that went right and wrong in Game 4

06.10.10 at 11:56 pm ET
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The NBA finals are once again tied after the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 96-89, in Game 4 on Thursday night. (Recap.) The Celtics had six scorers in double figures, led by 18 from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who was dominant down the stretch, and 19 from captain Paul Pierce. Game 5 is Sunday night back at TD Garden.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

Sparkplugs off the bench: One’€™s called Big Baby and the other looks like, well, a baby on the floor, but supersubs Glen Davis and Nate Robinson certainly didn’€™t play like their labels Thursday night. The duo combined for 30 points, but it was the pure energy each provided for the C’€™s off the bench in the fourth quarter that helped the team to victory. One of the greatest video clips from Game 4 was Davis slobbering with Robinson on his back after Davis made a layup on which he was fouled. That one play electrified the TD Garden crowd and pushed the C’€™s towards an incredible run in the final quarter, in which Boston outscored the Lakers, 36-27.

Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds: Boston found a way to win again because they were able to keep the Lakers big men off the boards. After being outrebounded 43-35 in Game 3, the Celtics won the battle down low 41-33 in their win in Game 4. All five starters had more than five boards, and Davis added five of his own with four of those coming on the offensive end. By winning the rebounding battle, the C’€™s were able to take away the size advantage that the Lakers utilized perfectly in their wins in Games 1 and 3.

Paul Pierce’€™s play in the first quarter: Pierce was the only member of the Big Four without a truly dominating performance in any of the first three games, and several of his critics had said that he needed to step it up if the team was going to succeed. Pierce held up his end of the bargain by going off for 10 points in the first frame while the offense undeniably went through him. The rest of the team managed only nine during that time.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

Poor first-half shooting: The C’€™s had more than their fair share of quality shots in the first half but shot just 41 percent from the field. The C’s missed several open jumpers and even some layups. Those misses translated into just 42 first-half points and a three-point deficit that could have been much larger had the Lakers not had their own offensive struggles.

Allowing Kobe to hit some big 3’s in the third quarter: There was a time in the third that it seemed like Kobe Bryant just couldn’€™t miss from behind the arc. The C’€™s were giving him just enough room to pull the trigger, and that’€™s something you simply cannot do against Bryant. He was 5-for-6 at one point from deep and seemed to be in place to endanger Ray Allen‘€™s finals record for 3-pointers in a game. He eventually cooled, but the three-straight 3’s he made to close out the quarter allowed the Lakers to stay ahead going into the fourth.

Timing could have been everything: Although they certainly didn’€™t affect the outcome, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson both had ill-timed technical fouls in the fourth quarter. Wallace’€™s technical came after the team had garnered an eight-point lead in the fourth. It very well could have sucked away all the momentum the team had gathered over the previous two minutes and change. Robinson’€™s T two minutes later threatened to do the same thing. If the C’€™s want to continue to thrive in the final stanza, they cannot pick up potential game-changing T’€™s in close games.

Read More: Glen Davis, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Nate Robinson

Jackson: Bynum playing with pain

06.10.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said that his starting center will try to play through right knee pain in Game 4 of the NBA finals against the Celtics.

“I think he’ll give it a shot and see how he goes from there.” Jackson said. “The big factor is he knows he’s going to be in some kind of discomfort during course of a game. It comes. It goes. He feels sharp pain when he makes a certain move. He understands what it is so it’s not something he gets concerned about doing again.”

[Click here to hear Phil Jackson talk about the pain Bynum is playing through.]

Bynum had the knee drained just before the Finals began and was told by Lakers doctors and trainers to expect discomfort and limited mobility if he chose to play in the series. Bynum has started all three games and played at least 28 minutes in each of the first contests.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals

Phil to his Lakers: Play above referees

06.10.10 at 8:47 pm ET
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With all the talk of Eddie F. Rush officiating Game 4 and Kendrick Perkins one technical away from a one-game suspension, there’s been plenty of talk about the quality of officiating of the 2010 NAB Finals. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the officiating this Finals series is no more controversial than in other championship series he’s been in.

“I don’t think it’s any hotter than any other Finals I’ve been a part of,” Jackson said. “It’s always contentious. There’s been a little more focus, perhaps, this time. Perhaps, some of it has been undercurrent in the past. What we like to say to the players is you play beyond the refereeing, you play above the refereeing.”

Jackson is coaching in his 13th NBA Finals series and has a 10-2 mark in previous championship series.

[Click here to listen to Jackson explain how his team needs to deal with the officiating.]

Read More: 2010 Finals, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals

More need for Sheed

06.10.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Rasheed Wallace has played just 55 minutes in this series, but they have been 55 effective minutes, particularly on defense where he has guarded Pau Gasol well.

Wallace would have played more in the first two games in Los Angeles when he scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds, but he been battling a back injury. He also has had to sit out practice and Doc Rivers said that was as big a factor as his back.

“It’s not as much as his back anymore,” Rivers said prior to Game 4 of the NBA finals. “It’s his conditioning. The two weeks or three weeks of literally just playing in games , they catch up to you conditioning-wise.”

Rivers said that Wallace has been able to run more on off days and that he should be able to play more in Game 4. “We anticipate playing him a little bit more tonight for sure.”

Wallace looked physically pained as he tried to get up and down the court in Game 3, and his shot was way off. The Celtics could use his height because he has caused Gasol problems when he’s been in there. Glen Davis has also played well off the bench, but his lack of height has hurt the Celtics at times on the boards.

“He’s feeling a lot better today,” Rivers said. “We can’t worry about it anyway.”

Read More: Rasheed Wallace,

Rebounding key to rebounding from loss

06.10.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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If the Celtics want to rebound from their Game 3 loss, they know they have to rebound in Game 4.

“I think whoever wins the rebounding war wins the game,” said Kendrick Perkins. “That’s how it’s been in the last three games for some reason.”

The Celtics have been outrebounded 124-110 in the first three games of the series, an average of 41 to 37.

They had a five-board edge in their Game 2 victory, but were outrebounded by a total of 19 boards in their Games 1 and 3 losses.

Perkins said the length of the Lakers big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, make them tough to defend. Gasol’s versatility to play the power forward also spreads the floor and creates additional defensive challenges for the Celtics.

But the Celtics can win the battle of the boards. They have already proved it in this series. There’s nothing complicated about it, just a matter of going out and doing it.

“I just feel like it’s got to be a team effort,” said Perkins. “Guys have got to come in, make them take contested jumpshots, grab a lot of long rebounds. Our guards come in and they can start the break.

“But I just think when we put our minds together and go out there and do it, I just think with Paul (Pierce) and (Rajon) Rondo and Ray (Allen), they can grab a few rebounds. Then Kevin (Garnett) and myself, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Then when the bench comes in, they’ve got to make sure that they rebound also.”

The Celtics know the gameplan. Now they have to execute it.

“It’s just us,” said Glen Davis. “We’ve got to show up tonight. We’ve got to make sure that we do what we have to do.”

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers
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