|06.16.10 at 3:01 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — If the Lakers had lost Game 6, the line for scapegoats would have started with Ron Artest and worked its way over to Lamar Odom.
They didn’t lose, obviously, and Odom and Artest were two of the biggest reasons why they were able to force a seventh game. Artest scored 15 points and had his best shooting night of the series, while Odom added eight points and 10 rebounds playing major minutes for the injured Andrew Bynum.
“Well, [Artest] made a shot,” Phil Jackson said. “It’s always great to make a shot when you’ve been struggling. It was good to see that ball go in, but we tried to simplify things for him tonight.”
Artest made good use of the corner 3-pointer and the Celtics gave him ample room to get his shot off. Even for a player as mercurial as Artest, they can’t afford to give him that much space.
Odom, meanwhile, may have to do even more in Game 7. Jackson pulled Bynum after just two minutes of the second half and he never returned. Odom has been battling the flu and Jackson was concerned about his energy, but he was able to play almost 30 minutes.
|06.16.10 at 2:50 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — In the late moments of Game 6, the television cameras caught a glimpse of a conversation on the Celtics bench between their veteran players. That conversation carried over to the locker room and while the details are murky, the point was clear.
“We take complete responsibility,” Ray Allen said. “We just put us in a hole early. It affects our bench. We didn’t give them any great rhythm, any great chemistry. I think we talked about our defense and how we allowed so many points, but I think it stemmed from the offense because we didn’t make the extra pass. Each individual tried to make the home run play early.”
Oddly enough, the veterans finally put together solid shooting nights in the same game. Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined to go 19-for-42 and score 44 points. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the rest of the team shot 9-for-42 and scored just 23, they accounted for a sizable portion of the Celtics limited production.
All the veterans know that this may be their final chance at winning another ring, and given the uncertainty surrounding the summer, it may be their final chance together in the same uniform.
Pierce said he was keeping the conversation in-house, while Garnett said it was nothing. But one thing is certain: They don’t want to go out like they did in Game 6.
“As a unit, starting unit, we take responsibility,” Allen said. “We have to do a better job for next game.”
|06.16.10 at 2:12 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Say this much, you can’t pin this loss on officiating.
The problem was – with the Celtics on Tuesday night – they said all the right things after the game but did precious few of them during an 89-67 loss to the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals at Staples Center.
“We got our ass kicked, point-blank, simple. They came out there and hit us hard. They beat us mentally, physically,” Glen Davis said.
Getting outrebounded, 30-13, in the first half of a game you could have won the NBA title with is never a good sign. Yes, they lost Kendrick Perkins to a sprained right knee midway through the first quarter to a terrible bad bit of luck. But even before that, there were signs that the Lakers were beat the Celtics at their own game – energy.
“They did a great job,” Davis said. “They were the better team today. We didn’t come out and establish the tempo and we didn’t come out there hit them back. We didn’t do that at all. We didn’t play Celtics basketball.”
So can Davis and company change it for Thursday?
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I have no idea. But we better find something, make it happen.”
Pierce – as you would expect from a captain – was far more confident.
“I’ll tell you one thing, when I’m standing here on Thursday night, we won’t be talking about [lack of] energy,” Pierce said.
Still, it’s fairly mind-boggling that the Celtics had such trouble mustering up enough energy to compete with the Lakers, who were facing elimination for the first time in this playoff season.
“We have no choice,” Garnett said. “We come out [in Game 7] with the energy we had tonight, we’ll get blown out, embarrassed.”
|06.16.10 at 1:32 am ET|
But on Tuesday night, they C’s looked as if they had forgotten the point they had made just 48 hours earlier.
‘I thought we played an individual game tonight, really on both ends,’ Doc Rivers said following the Celtics 89-67 loss in Game 6.
Rivers praised the Lakers trust in one another before expressing disappointment in his own team’s. The Celtics, rooted in a we-not-me mentality, failed to share the ball and find the open teammate consistently for 48 minutes. They took contested shots (33% FG) and collectively dished 17 assists, down from their finals average of 20.6.
‘We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively because we didn’t trust tonight. Everybody was trying to make their own plays,’ said Rivers. ‘When we’ve done that this year, we’ve lost games. We’ve been blown out in some of those games, and if you do that against a team like the Lakers and a team like the Lakers who are really ready to play and play desperate, you’re going to lose. And I thought we did that.’
The need for a total team effort is that much greater heading into Game 7 due to the injury of Kendrick Perkins. His status for Thursday night is unclear after leaving the game with a sprained right knee. Without Perkins, the Celtics lose size down low against the towering Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Rivers will look to the bench, which was outscored in Game 6, to step up. If Perkins is unable to play, either Glen Davis or Rasheed Wallace will get the start. Rivers hopes Davis will bring the same level of energy he exuded in Game 4 — ‘The famous Shrek and Donkey game,’ Rivers dubbed it — and that the rest of the team will follow suit.
‘We need that again,’ he said, ‘And we need that from everybody.’
As Rivers preps the Celtics for the deciding Game 7, there is no way of knowing who could suddenly have the hot hand. But what he does know is that the entire lineup, not just one player, will make the difference.
‘I’m hoping both teams play great and the best team wins, and I’m hoping that’s us,’ he said. ‘The effort is going to be great by both teams. It’s really going to come down to the trust. It’s going to come down to the execution. One team will do that and one team will question it at some point in the game. We’ll see.’
|06.16.10 at 1:01 am ET|
Q. From your perspective, how did the Celtics‘ chemistry change when Perkins got injured?
RAJON RONDO: I think we were a little bit focused on if Perk was going to come back instead of just continuing to play. As soon as halftime came, you know, we all just ran to the locker room and to the training room to see how he was feeling and if he was okay. Our energy went down a little bit, but for the most part it’s not an excuse. We just came out and didn’t have it.
Q. How did the dynamics of the team change when he got injured?
RAJON RONDO: Perk is our enforcer. He’s our biggest body we have to throw out there on Bynum. He clears the paint up for us. He does a lot of intangibles. He’s a great shot blocker, rebounder, and he’s the anchor of our defense.
Q. How does the way you guys lost this game affect your mindset going into the next one? And if Kendrick is not close to 100 percent, how does that affect the match‘up?
RAJON RONDO: That’s why we have a lot of guys throughout the roster. We have Big Baby and Rasheed. Other guys have to step up. We’ve had injuries before all season and guys have stepped up. But I’m sure they’ll be up for the challenge and ready to play.
|06.15.10 at 11:43 pm ET|
The Celtics are headed to a deciding Game 7 against the Lakers after falling, 89-67, in Game 6 of the NBA finals on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Here are five reasons why the Celtics couldn’t get it done in six.
1. Kendrick Perkins went down: Perkins sprained his right knee and left the game halfway through the first quarter. He fell to the ground after fighting for a rebound (an effort the Celtics hardly made in the quarter as they were outrebounded 12-5) and did not return after being helped off the court. The injury had a ripple effect on the Celtics’ inside game. Not only did the C’s suffer by losing Perkins’ presence on the court, his injury forced Rasheed Wallace into the game. Wallace, who is just one technical away from a one-game suspension, picked up three personal fouls in just eight first half minutes. With Perkins’ injured and Wallace benched with foul trouble, the Lakers got to the basket at will, including 17 points and 13 rebounds from Pau Gasol.
2. One and done: The Celtics were four quarters away from winning their 18th championship, but they let the game slip away in the first. The C’s hung with the Lakers for the first five minutes of the game and were tied 12-12 at the seven-minute mark. The Lakers then went on a run and outscored the Celtics 16-6 to end the quarter. The C’s went scoreless for over two minutes during the beginning of the Lakers tear and did not hit a shot in the final 2:11 of the quarter. The Lakers led 28-18 after one. Kobe Bryant hit five field goals in the quarter, the entire Celtics team hit just eight.
3. Ron Artest appeared: Artest’s offensive numbers through the first five games of the finals were dismal – 7.8 points, 30.2% FG, 31.6% 3PG, 46.7% FT. Paul Pierce had contained him in the battle of the perimeter players, and he had offered little help to the Lakers on the scoreboard. But Artest showed up in Game 6. He scored 10 points in the first half alone and finished the game with 15. Artest doesn’t have to be the game’s leading scorer to make a difference. He spreads the defense and draws the Celtics away from his other teammates, like Bryant, when he is making his shots.
4. The bench never stood up: Just two games ago, they won the battle for the Celtics. But in Game 6, the C’s bench was ineffective, to say the least. Five reserves combined for just 13 points, and the only reason why those numbers are that high is because the starters were benched toward the end of the blowout. The Lakers bench, on the other hand, played with the energy and hustle exhibited by the Celtics in Game 4. Sasha Vujacic swished 3-pointers, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown got up for highlight reel dunks. With the Perkins injured, the Celtics bench needed to step up and help the starters. That didn’t happen.
5. Lakers attacked the glass: Doc Rivers told the Celtics at the start of the series that rebounding is key. It was key in their three wins, and it was key in their third loss. The Celtics were annihilated on the glass, 52-39, as three Lakers recorded double-digit rebounds — Gasol (13), Bryant (11), Lamar Odom (10). No one on the Celtics grabbed more than nine boards (Glen Davis led the team), which was magnified by Perkins’ absence on the glass.
|06.15.10 at 9:51 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — The role of the bench may be the single biggest factor in home court advantage in this NBA finals series.
For the Celtics, everyone knows about the production of Davis, especially in wins in Games 4 and 5. Robinson was huge in Game 4 as well. Rasheed Wallace’s role took on a whole new meaning with an apparent right knee injury to starter Kendrick Perkins with 5:30 left in the first quarter Tuesday night.
For the Lakers, they have Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar.
Now with the series finishing in Los Angeles, the advantage has shifted by to the purple and gold.
At first glance, the Lakers domination in the first half of Game 6 seemed to render the bench moot. But upon a much closer look, the stat sheet revealed the Lakers got 15 points from their bench. The Celtics, a big goose egg. That 15-0 margin led to a 51-31 halftime Lakers cushion.
And with the Lakers building a 22-point lead, Jackson was afforded the luxury of not having to tax his starters, saving them for a Game 7.
“I think that the bench performance has to prove itself,” Jackson said prior to Game 6. “[They’ve] got to go out there. But in the same breath, benches play better on our home court than they do on the road. It’s like, okay, they certainly have to have a chance to play, and if they’re playing well, they’ll stay.”
Rivers admitted he has to be a little more careful with his bench at Staples Center.
“Well, you hope not, but you’re prepared to,” Rivers said of shortening the exposure of the bench on the road. “I think [Jackson] is right. I think role players tend to play better at home. I don’t think that’s anything new. We knew that.
“We do have a different cast of players with Rasheed being a veteran and Nate and Baby are so emotional they could possibly play well on the road. You just never know what you’re going to get from them. But that is true, you do prepare yourself to extend your starters’ minutes on the road. You always do.”
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