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Stephen A. Smith on D&C: Never seen Kobe this focused 06.17.10 at 7:56 am ET
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Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the NBA finals. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Smith said at least two of the Celtics’ top players must step up in Game 7, because he has no doubt Kobe Bryant will be at his best. “I have never seen him this focused,” Smith said of the Lakers star. “If he was this focused before Game 7, imagine how he’s going to be tonight.”

Talking about Rasheed Wallace, whose play becomes that much more important with the absence of injured starter Kendrick Perkins, Smith said: “As big as this game is, he is completely unfazed. … He’s not going to be nervous. At the same time, it’s a bad thing, because the urgency of the moment is not going to affect him. … Game 7 is not going to make him give you more.”

As for a prediction, Smith said that despite Bryant wanting it more than anyone else, “I picked the Boston Celtics to win this series, and I’m going to stick with it.” He also said to keep an eye on Nate Robinson, who could make a big impact with his outside shooting.

Smith also touched on Doc Rivers‘ future, saying: “He gave me indications the other day that he would probably come back,” based on his relationship with the players.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, Rasheed Wallace, Stephen A. Smith,
Celtics video: Lakers fans on Venice Beach 06.17.10 at 7:15 am ET
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VENICE BEACH, Calif. — Los Angeles residents give their opinion on Game 7 of the NBA finals.

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Ray shoulders blame for Game 6 06.16.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Ray Allen took the blame for the bench not scoring a single point through three quarters on Tuesday in an 89-67 loss to the Lakers in Game 6 at Staples Center. The Celtics‘ bench was outscored 24-0 through three periods as the Lakers built a 25-point lead.

That was some readily evident in Wednesday’s film session before practice in Los Angeles.

“A lot of missing and a lot of everything,” Allen said. “Just offensively, we’ve had this conversation before about the ball being stuck. We didn’t make the extra pass. It sucks, too, because we talk about this a lot in the aftermath of our losses. We saw it on film.

“You’re talking about the first quarter. We didn’t set a good trend. And talking about what our bench didn’t do, I take sole credit in the starting five for that because as the starters we didn’t set a good precedent. It’s on us me, Rondo, Kevin, Paul sitting right there, that’s the guys. You can look around at the guys coming off the bench or our coaching staff, but we’ve got to start the game on parallel, like getting back on defense, moving the ball on offense. Those are things that we have to do. Regardless of what plays are called, that’s the way it’s got to be for [Thursday’s] game.

Desperation along with other emotions are on the line now.

” I think it’s a whole bunch of those emotions that you throw in the pot and mix them around,” Allen said. “As a team, as individuals, I don’t want to be sitting around in July having to ask myself, did I do everything that I could have done? Have any regrets? I don’t want to be that person. I want to do everything I can to leave it all on the floor.”

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals, Ray Allen
Lakers preparing for a ‘fight’ in Game 7 06.16.10 at 7:50 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Game 7 is the ultimate test. For the Los Angeles Lakers it means even more.

The Lakers have a chance to finally beat the Celtics with the title on the line in a seventh and deciding game. Four times before the Lakers have had a chance and four times the Lakers were denied, most recently at the old Boston Garden in 1984 as the crowd rushed the parquet.

In 1969, it was the Celtics going on the road to the old Forum in Inglewood and winning Game 7, 108-106.

Thursday, the scene will be the Staples Center. And millions will be watching to see if the Lakers can finally get it done or do the Celtics walk away with their 18th title.

“Historic,” Lamar Odom said in a one-word characterization. “When you’re talking about these organizations and these teams, what they stand for, the pride. This is what you envisioned when you were a kid playing in your backyard. This was what it was all about.”

Odom said he is expecting a fierce battle from the Celtics, especially with Kendrick Perkins out with torn ligaments in his right knee.

“It’s going to be a fight,” Odom said. “It’s going to be a fight. We expect a tough game. You know, all these games have been tough. Even with last night’s score, to me that’s misleading, sometimes the games just go like that. That team still plays hard, still makes you work.”

The Lakers have battled back from two losses in Boston to tie the series. And now they enjoy the same chance the Celtics had in Game 6 two years ago – celebrating a title over their arch-rival with their own fans on their home court.

“It is what it is,” Derek Fisher said. “It’s something that each time a series starts, you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to play out and what’s going to happen and how the momentum is going to swing back and forth. But here we are, and to have this opportunity on our home floor to win a championship, you know, I don’t know if you can ask for anything else, regardless of the Game 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Whatever it would take to win, and we have an opportunity.

“I just think that after losing Game 5, we have been in a position since then that was not very complicated,” Fisher said. “It was pretty simple. You have to win the next game or your season is over, and not over in a way you’d like it to be. You know, as opposed to kind of, I guess, starting to become selfish and kind of bunker mentality.”

“Whether it’s pretty or not, the Lakers can get another monkey off their back with a win. In 1985, Magic Johnson and the Lakers had never beaten the Celtics for a title. They did and followed with one two years later. So, would this mean anything more special?

“It’s hard to answer that question,” Odom said. “A championship is a championship. Any time you have to fight this team really makes you fight I guess you appreciate it a little bit more.”

Read More: Celtcs, Derek Fisher, Lakers, Lamar Odom
Ainge on The Big Show: ‘Our guys will be ready to go’ 06.16.10 at 7:35 pm ET
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called into The Big Show Wednesday afternoon and the topic of the day was the status of starting center Kendrick Perkins and what kind of impact his injury will have on Game 7. To listen to the full interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

‘€œObviously, we’€™d like to have Perk [be] healthy,’€ Ainge said. ‘€œHe’€™s a big part of our team defense, but I think that Glen Davis and Rasheed [Wallace] can carry the mail for us at the center position.’€

The way that Ainge read Game 6 was as though the Lakers were just better prepared for the matchup. ‘€œI guess it’€™s like a boxing match and one team comes out and attacks. [The other team] didn’€™t come out prepared for that attack,’€ he said.

‘€œYou try to counter it, and we just weren’€™t able to. I thought they did a good job. Our guys were ready to play, but the Lakers came on all cylinders. They were making shots early and they just carried it throughout the course of the game. They got a great deal of confidence going and the bench came in and made all their shots. We could never stop that momentum. You’ve got to give the Lakers credit.’€

When asked what Rasheed Wallace will have to do to make up for the loss of Perkins in the starting lineup in Game 7, Ainge said that the whole bench would need to step up and play smart. ‘€œYeah, it’€™s a different role. Playing the starter’s role and then playing what he’€™s been playing for us off the bench in the playoffs is completely different. We need a different Rasheed. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Kendrick Perkins, NBA Finals,
Celtics video: Perkins on knee injury 06.16.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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Perk: ‘I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me’ 06.16.10 at 5:16 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — When Kendrick Perkins was asked how he was feeling on Wednesday after getting the word from doctors that his season ended when he went down in the paint with 5:30 left in the first quarter, he responded with a question of his own.

“Physically, or mentally?” Perkins replied.

That response indicated just how painful Tuesday night’s season ending knee injury was to the Celtics starting center.

Perkins then elaborated that he tore his MCL and suffered a partial tear of another ligament in his right knee in Game 6 and will not play in Game 7 Thursday.

“Physically, I’m in pain,” Perkins announced. “I hurt my knee pretty badly. I’m out for [Thursday]. There’s nothing I can do about it.

“Torn MCL and a torn PCL, so got to watch from the sideline. I’d be lying to you if I told you it didn’t hurt, but it hurts. Game 7 of the finals, Game 6 of the finals, couldn’t help your team. Can’t do nothing but sit on the side and encourage guys to play better and play well. I’ll probably never get this opportunity again to even make it back to the finals. Physically I’m doing better than I am mentally.”

Had last night’s injury occured in the middle of the season, Perkins would not have even made the finals.

“Last night, pretty sure that I wasn’t going to play,” Perkins said. “But [Wednesday] morning, it was like, you’re out. That’s what it was, ‘You’re out.’ He told me if it was in December that if I had hurt my knee in December I probably would have missed the remainder of the season. So that tells you what it’s like.”

Perkins, who said he had yet to have an MRI on the knee, made the announcement himself as he met with the media on Wednesday afternoon at Staples Center. Perkins said he expects to have an MRI on Friday when the team arrives back in Boston.

Perkins injured his right knee in a collision with Andrew Bynum under the Lakers basket midway through the first quarter.

“Game 7 of the finals, Game 6 of the finals, couldn’t help your team, can’t really do nothing but sit on the sidelines and encourage guys to play better and play well,” Perkins said.

Perkins knew immediately that something was seriously wrong when he hit the floor.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was. I couldn’t get up on my own. I couldn’t walk. My whole leg was hurting. The back of my knee was hurting, in pain. I heard something pop. I didn’t know what it was, but it was pain.”

Perkins decided to come out and meet with the media, something he didn’t necessarily have to do considering the emotional and physical pain he’s dealt with since going down in Game 6.

“It’s the finals,” Perkins said. “Last practice of the season, last game of the season, you kind of just want to be with your teammates and coaches, just be around the guys, especially after a tough loss like last night where you just kind of want to be around, just get that family feeling. You know, you don’t want to be in your room all day by yourself.

“I know when we lose, we always say when we get to the locker room, we feel a lot better when we get around each other. So I just felt like I needed to be around.”

The more Perkins talked, he sounded like a parent who didn’t want his children to get distracted by his own misfortune.

“It was hard [Tuesday] night,” Perkins said. “I think my teammates, coaches, the whole Celtics organization has been great supporting me. But it’s hard because you have a lot of people asking me, ‘How are you feeling and get better and things like that, at the same time, it’s not about me. We’re trying to win a championship. It’s not about me and I don’t want the focus to be on me from my teammates or nobody. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. We have a game to win.

“I just want them to stay focused on the game. I’m going to be alright. It’s an important game coming up. I appreciate my teammates and coaches and their concerns. It’s not about me. This is about winning a title.”

And Perkins said he has complete faith in the group of Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Shelden Williams and possibly Brian Scalabrine to fill his shoes.

“Very confident,” Perkins said of his thoughts going into Game 7. “I think we’re in pretty good shape. I like the way our film session went. A lot of positive criticism so it went well. I think we’re going to be alright [Thursday].

Lamar Odom said he’s expecting nothing less than the best from Perkins’ replacements.

“You know, it’s funny, I was sitting on the bench, and they got Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett on the court at the same time, and those guys have had great careers,” Odom said. “Glen Davis is a fighter, as well. I mean, their team is still really competitive. Of course, any time you lose anyone, especially at this time of the year but it happens. It’s something we have to go through as a team. I just wish him well.”

Perkins had one more word for his teammates.

“No regrets, no regrets tomorrow,” he said. “It’s the last game year, period. There’s no more games. You don’t want any more regrets after the game. I think the biggest thing is we have to be together.”

WEEI.com’s Joe Zarbano has the video of Perkins from Staples Wednesday afternoon.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers, MCL
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