|For Lakers: Looks can be deceiving||06.14.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
It was a fascinating study in the way a team handles pressure and accepts defeat on Sunday night at TD Garden.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics protecting their five-point lead in the final minute, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce went for a missed shot in the lane. Bryant appeared to have the angle on the ball before Pierce came in like a hawk and grabbed right away.
Bryant then threw up both arms in frustration and then Pierce was fouled with the ball and the Lakers superstar began shaking his head in disgust and disbelief.
The sense of a chance getting away from the Lakers was written all over the ultra-competitive star’s face.
“They just got to every ball,” Bryant said. “Again, they played with more tenacity than we did in that stretch, and we have to do a much better job Game 6. we’re knocking at the door there a couple times and just couldn’t get through.
“Again tonight they got all the hustle points in terms of loose balls and offensive rebounds down the stretch. We didn’t convert.”
Then there’s Lamar Odom, the calm, cool, collected and still cocky Laker forward. After his team failed to take advantage of a legendary third-quarter performance by Kobe Bryant on Sunday night, Odom was asked why he seemed so confident heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We love playing in the Staples,” Odom said of L.A.’s home court. “We know we can win on the road but it’s our turn to go back home.”
But with the Celtics just needing to repeat once what they did in Game 2 on the same court, don’t the Celtics have the advantage since L.A. needs two wins?
“That’s tough to say,” Odom said. “That’s a great question. That’s tough to say but I think the home team always has the advantage and the energy switches a little bit, helps you, laying in your own bed.
“We’ll respond. Our energy is still up as a team. Our confidence is still there. The series is not over.” Odom said.
Bryant summed up what’s in front of these Lakers if they want to avoid the same feeling they had two years ago against the Celtics.
“We have a challenge obviously down 3-2,” Bryant said. “We let a couple opportunities slip away. But it is what it is. Now you go home, you’ve got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work.”
Then Kobe was asked if he were still confident the Lakers can beat their arch-rival twice in three nights.
“I’m not very confident at all,” Bryant said with a sincere laugh.
Sarcasm might be the only trait Bryant, Odom and the Lakers share right now when it comes to playing the Celtics.
|What they’re saying about Celtics-Lakers||at 2:19 pm ET|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Why Game 6 is still just another game||at 2:12 am ET|
One team is a game away from a championship, the other could be 48 minutes away from the end of its season.
Following the Celtics’ Game 5 victory, Kobe Bryant had a steady focus looking ahead to Tuesday’s matchup.
“We have a challenge, obviously, down 3-2,” he said. “We let a couple of opportunities slip away. But it is what it is. Now you go home, you’ve got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work.”
The Celtics also are staying even-keeled. They won’t let themselves look too far ahead and look past the keys to getting a clinching win.
“You have the tendency to look ahead,” Ray Allen said. “But for us it’s like you have to mentally block it out. All day tomorrow, you have to think about what you need to do, how you need to rest, the small things you need to do to start the game off. … To achieve that we want, it’s going to take everybody to do the things they do. We can’t leave any stone unturned, we can’t take any shortcuts.”
|Doc: We won’t change game plan for Kobe, Bynum||06.13.10 at 7:42 pm ET|
Bynum, who had his right knee drained after Game 4, will play in Game 5. He played just 12 minutes on Thursday, and while there is the possibility that his minutes could be limited, Rivers is not going to bank on the big man being on the bench.
“We’re going to play the game,” he said. “Andrew is not going to change how we play. Again, usually the last six or seven minutes of the game Andrew is not on the floor. It’s usually Gasol and Odom for the most part. That’s what they’ve done all year and they’ve done it in the series. But he is a factor, his size is a factor, and offensively we do change things when he’s on the floor to try to get the size out of the paint. But other than that, there’s not two game plans.”
Bryant remains a constant concern for the Celtics on defense. Even though Bryant has credited the Celtics D for limiting him offensively, the C’s know he is capable of scoring at will on any night. But they can’t plan their whole strategy around that threat.
“You don’t worry about it. I mean, hell, he’s Kobe Bryant,” said Rivers. “We’ve talked about it before. We are going to have to win a game eventually in this series where he goes off for a big number. But that number, whatever it is, it’s still not the final number. Other people still have to score for them. So as far as we’re concerned, we’re just going to do our best.
“What we can’t do is overreact to it, and I think that’s where the great players get you, the LeBrons and the Wades and who we’ve already faced. They have that big game and everybody overreacts and wants to change the defense and wants to change things. No, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
|Thompson on Big Show: Celts ‘aren’t as talented’||06.11.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
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?
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].
|McHale on Big Show: Celts must win ‘old-style’ game||at 8:12 pm ET|
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 »
|Kobe credits Celtics defense||at 2:20 am ET|
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.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason