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What they’re saying about Celtics-Lakers 06.14.10 at 2:19 pm ET
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Despite Kobe Bryant's heroic 38 point peformance Sunday night, the Celtics won Game 5, 92-86, and the media would not let Bryant hear the end of it. (AP)

Despite Kobe Bryant's heroic 38-point performance for the Lakers Sunday night, the Celtics won Game 5, 92-86, and the media would not let Bryant hear the end of it. (AP)

Fueled by a raucous TD Garden crowd, a bench that wouldn’t quit and an apparent lack of serious competition, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Lakers Sunday night with their 92-86 win. The storylines have stayed the same throughout the series. The C’s have stepped up and played as a team with a new leader emerging every game, while the Lakers have been inconsistent and led by one strong player, usually Kobe Bryant. Game 5 was just more of the same, and the national headlines the day after have told the same tale.

Los Angeles:

  • Most of the criticism against Kobe and the Lakers originates from LA:
    –  T.J. Simers of the LA Times writes the harshest criticism by refusing to call him by name, opting for Our Ball Hog instead.
    – Mark Medina from the Times’ Lakers Blog places the blame on the rest of the Lakers for not supporting their leader.
    – The LA Daily News’ Vincent Bonsignore discusses how calm and quiet Kobe was during the postgame press conference. Alongside that, Bonsignore says that the captain “really isn’t interested in prodding his teammates along with some fiery speech over the next few days.”
  • Bill Plaschke believes that this 2010 series is starting to resemble the 2008 series and it seems as though the Lakers are throwing in the towel.
  • The Lakers’ big men – Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum – have been largely ineffective and just taking up space on the court, writes Mike Bresnahan.
  • Meanwhile, the Daily News’ Elliot Teaford reports that Lamar Odom hasn’t been acting like his normal, bubbly self in and around the Lakers’ clubhouse this series because of his poor play.

National:

  • Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today chalks up the C’s Game 5 victory to their big four starters: Pierce, Rondo, Allen and Garnett.
  • Also from USA Today, Michael Falgoust noticed that Bryant’s shooting percentage for the series is down to 42.5 percent, his lowest since the first round against Oklahoma City when he had swollen knee problems.
  • Pau Gasol has been nothing more than a “spectator to the Kobe Bryant show.” According to The Associated Press, Gasol wouldn’t “get himself involved or the Lakers wouldn’t involve him” in Game 5.
  • Kevin Garnett is noncommittal about his immediate future, but he is definitely glad he decided to leave Minnesota and come to Boston, writes Bill Lee of the Providence Journal.
  • ESPN’s Daily Dime covers topics such as “the better team won Game 5,” Kobe Bryant needing some serious help on the court and Boston’s bench keeping the energy up every game.
  • And finally, the ratings for Game 5 are slowly trickling in and it appears that it was the most watched game of the series so far and the most watched event of the night again. The 2010 finals have been the highest watched finals since the 2004 matchup between the Lakers and the Pistons.
Read More: Celtics, finals, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Thompson on Big Show: Celts ‘aren’t as talented’ 06.11.10 at 8:19 pm ET
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Lakers radio color commentator and Los Angeles radio show co-host Mychal Thompson, a former Laker, appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss the Celtics-Lakers matchup and who he sees winning the series.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

How do you see this thing playing out?

I’m very amused by [Cedric Maxwell] over there enjoying his last moment of glory here, last moment of happiness celebrating the victory last night, led by “Donk and Shrek” or whatever his name is. Let him enjoy the moment right now because that’s the last piece of enjoyment he’ll have around here until the Yankees come in here and knock you guys out of the playoffs.

If Andrew Bynum doesn’t play, the Lakers are in trouble.

That’s OK, we have another 7-footer to act, don’t forget about my boy D.J. Mbenga sitting there. One thing D.J. can do is guard the basketball. We don’t care about scoring. The problem with the Lakers [in Game 4] was they couldn’t make stops, and D.J. can make stops. … We’re not panicking, because the Lakers have the best player in the world in Kobe Bryant. The only thing missing in the fourth quarter — I give the Celtics credit, they definitely came out and put it on the Lakers. They wanted it. They understood the sense of urgency to win that game. otherwise the series was over. I’ll give them credit for that. Now the Lakers must match their energy on Sunday [Game 5]. If the Lakers match the Celtics’ energy, the Celtics can’t beat them.

Isn’t that the same story from 2008?

Well, we had some softer guys on that team. But now with Ron Artest able to shut down Paul Pierce …

Some people say we haven’t seen the best of the Celtics yet.

Seeing the best of the Celtics won’t matter, because you guys just aren’t as talented. Kendrick Perkins is not as good a player in the post as Pau Gasol. [Kevin Garnett] is not the KG of two years ago.

The Celtics haven’t played their best yet. Would that concern you?

No, because I know Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are going to bust out and have a good shooting game eventually. … I’m not worried about offensively. It’s the energy level, it’s the aggression. If the Lakers come out like they did in Games 1, 2 and 3, if they play with that kind of energy, they’ll beat the Celtics.

Have the fans in LA been complaining about the officiating?

Yeah, but you’ve got to play through that. You’ve got to be like Maxwell and [Larry] Bird and those guys were: tough mentally, don’t worry about the officials. When you start looking over your shoulder, you’re going to lose, you’ve got to forget about the officials and adjust to how they call the game.

Do we go seven games?

No, six. The Lakers win Sunday [in Game 5] and close them out Tuesday [in Game 6].

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Lakers
McHale on Big Show: Celts must win ‘old-style’ game at 8:12 pm ET
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Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale

TNT NBA analyst Kevin McHale appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss Celtics-Lakers, the controversial officiating throughout the playoffs, and whether or not he might coach again in the NBA.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

Did [Game 4] shock you?

No. I was actually more shocked by Game 3. … Kobe [Bryant] goes 10-for-29, it’s kind of a muddy, muffed-up game, there was not a lot of flow to it. I thought they were going to win that game, I really did. [Derek] Fisher made some big shots and held them off. … I was telling somebody, they were saying, “Well, when the Lakers play free flow and they get their triangle” — they were talking like it was going to be 115, 114 points a night, that doesn’t happen in the playoffs. Everything tightens up, defense gets better, everybody’s after each other. So, no, I was more surprised that the Celtics lost one of those grind-it-out games, and now they’re going  to have to find a way to win two more of those kind of ugly, grind-it-out,  just classic, old-style games.

With Pau Gasol you have to keep him out of his sweet spot.

No question. I think that’s where Rasheed [Wallace] has done a nice job of running him, coming around, tipping some balls away from him, getting him out of the sweet spot. And what Gasol’s tendency is when he feels pressure, he doesn’t push back and get closer, he starts drifting out to the ball. So I think [Kendrick Perkins] and Rasheed have both pushed him off. … When you’re that much bigger and longer than the guy, you can get a one-dribble jump hook left, one-dribble jump hook right, pump fake, you’re just too close, just right under the basket. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale, Kobe Bryant
Last run for C’s? Maybe not at 12:40 pm ET
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Throughout the Celtics postseason run, the elephant in the room has been the future of the team’s eight free agents, notably Ray Allen. (Paul Pierce also has a player option for next season).

Doc Rivers noted Friday that the team’s uncertain future has not been a regular topic of concersation in the locker room. “No, we don’t talk about it at all,” Rivers said. “I’ve said that — I said it in the middle of the year. I think hopefully we sign Ray back — I think I can say that. If not, I just got fined.”

Rivers also said that he thinks Kevin Garnett will be better next season as he moves further away from his knee surgery. As for the notion that this is the last run for the Celtics, Rivers disagreed. “We don’t think that,” he said. “I think everyone outside of us, a lot of people do.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen,
Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals 06.10.10 at 10:39 am ET
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Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning and talked about the quick turnaround from Game 2 in Los Angeles to Game 3 in Boston, the inconsistencies of the officials, and the sloppiness of both teams in the series.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Game 3:

I was worried about Game 3 because it was 48 hours after Game 2, cross country trip, and it just seemed like, “Uh oh, this is going to be bad.” If you look at what happened in the game, Kobe [Bryant] had a bad game, [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen both had bad games, the only old guy who had a good game was [Kevin Garnett] and KG didn’t play a lot in Game 2 because he was in foul trouble. My biggest fear about this whole series is that they just wasted an epic KG game and I’m not sure how many he has.

On the inconsistency of the officials:

I think for the most part in the finals, the right team is going to win each game. That’s what bothered me about Game 3 was basically both teams didn’t play well and it came down to officiating. If we’ve learned anything from the Celtics team this year, for whatever reason, the officiating determines how they’re going to do. … It just seems like so many things are predicated on how the officials decide beforehand, “This is what we’re going to do tonight.”

That’s my biggest problem with NBA officiating. Why can’t they just call it the same way every game? … Should we go to a system where there’s just three refs for the entire finals, the same three every game. There just has to be a better solution. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Simmons, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett’s odd night 06.07.10 at 2:20 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — All eyes were on Kevin Garnett after he was thoroughly outplayed by Pau Gasol in Game 1 and some comments from Gasol were taken out of context and became a dominant storyline heading into Game 2.

How would Garnett react? Could he handle Gasol? Would we see a vintage Garnett performance? In the end, none of those questions were answered definitively because Garnett spent the entire night in foul trouble.

Garnett played less than 12 minutes in the first three quarters and scored only two points to go with two rebounds.

“Obviously I would have liked to be in a better flow,” Garnett said. “But fouls, it goes like that.”

Despite his struggles to stay on the court, Garnett turned in a solid fourth quarter. He only had four points and two rebounds, but his one made basket came with the Celtics up one, 91-90. Additionally, Gasol scored only one point and Garnett set a number of screens that opened lanes for Rajon Rondo to drive to the basket.

Garnett did little to answer his critics in Game 2, but he did enough to help his team get a win.

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol,
Celtics, Lakers look ahead to Game 2 06.05.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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EL SEGUNDO — The Celtics and Lakers held court with the media on Saturday as they looked ahead to Game 2.  There have been common themes discussed following the C’s Game 1 loss — energy, rebounding, stopping Kobe Bryant, among others.

Over the past few days the players have heard the same questions posed in different ways. Many view it as part of being in the finals. Others have found a type of motivation in the repetition.

“I think it helps us a lot because you kind of get tired about hearing about the same things,” said Kendrick Perkins. “So you want to go out there and correct it so after Game 2 you won’t have to hear about it anymore.”

Here are a few soundbites from Saturday’s practice:

Helping Rondo be Rondo: As the point guard, it’s Rajon Rondo’s job to get his teammate the ball. At the same time, the Celtics have to do a better job of setting him up for success as well. The Celtics lack of defensive stops in Game 1 prevented Rondo from getting into transition often, something they look to improve in Game 2.

“When you don’t get stops, that means he’s taking the ball out every time and it doesn’t allow Rondo to get out there and use his speed in transition for fastbreaks,” said Paul Pierce. “Every time they got stops, rebounds was another big Achilles heel for us. So it’s important to do a better job on rebounds after each shot, getting the ball in his hands so his speed and play-making ability can become a factor in game number two. So we’ve got to make a concentrated effort at doing a better job at that.”

Gasol reacts to Garnett comments: On Friday, Pau Gasol’s comparison of Kevin Garnett from 2008 to 2010 became a media whirlwind when a small fraction of his comments were magnified. Gasol commented, “On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now,” before adding that he considers Garnett to be a “terrific player” who brings everything he has to the court.

Gasol reacted to the buzz following Lakers practice. When asked if he was surprised that his comment had been portrayed as derogatory, he responded, “To an extent. To an extent. I understand media try to create situations for whatever reason, create attraction. But again, sometimes I extend my answers too long. Maybe I shouldn’t do that. I should be shorter with my answers and don’t give away just anything so it can’t be manipulated that way and used.”

The Celtics didn’t get worked up over Gasol’s comments, though. Rondo said losing Game 1 was motivation enough for the C’s in itself.

Said Kendrick Perkins, “I say speak your mind. Sometimes it livens up the series a little bit. So I say speak your mind. You never know who you might make mad when you say something crazy, so you never know. Everybody’s watching.”

Celtics know what they’re playing for: Kevin Garnett is no stranger to screaming, yelling, and getting in his teammates’ faces on the court to pump them up. But at this point in the season, Garnett says that isn’t necessary.

“I think in this situation you don’t have to do any of that,” he said. “I think we’re all kind of distasteful at this time, knowing what’s at stake and it being the finals. No one here has to come out and say a heroic speech or get in anyone’s face. It’s all self-explanatory to this point. Everyone is motivated. Everyone knows we’re motivated. Guys on the team are looking at themselves in the mirror and I’m no different from that.”

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
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