|Kobe credits Celtics defense||06.11.10 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.”
|Three things that went right and wrong in Game 4||06.10.10 at 11:56 pm ET|
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.
|Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals||at 10:39 am ET|
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 »
|Jackson: It’s going to be highly charged||06.06.10 at 7:42 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — The Lakers took Game 1 of the NBA finals in such a decisive manner that it would be tempting for them to think that they have things figured out against the Celtics. However, they have no illusions that Game 2 is going to resemble Game 1.
“It may have been first-game jitters,” Ron Artest said Friday. “We’re not expecting another game like that at all. They had a tough road in the East and faced a lot of adversity. That team, the Celtics, is special. We all respect that.”
Phil Jackson reiterated that point Sunday before Game 2.
“The response is usually, not always but usually, the team that has taken a loss,” Jackson said. “The adjustments and the response and we anticipate that’s going to happen tonight. It’s going to be a much more tight game, I think, going down the stretch. We anticipate the game is going to be highly-charged, there’s no doubt about that.”
For their part, the atmosphere in the Celtics locker room was business-like. Assistant coach Tom Thibodeau was spotted poring over film, while players mostly brushed off media inquiries.
In terms of adjustments, the Celtics aren’t tipping their hand although it seems likely that Paul Pierce may see more time on Kobe Bryant, particularly if Ray Allen gets in foul trouble again. Marquis Daniels is also on the active list and if nothing else he’s another body to throw at Bryant.
“We do what we do,” Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t do it. You can’t start changing because that’s not who you are and that would affect your team more than anything.”
|Celtics, Lakers look ahead to Game 2||06.05.10 at 8:11 pm ET|
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.”
|What Ray Allen needs to ‘learn real quick’||06.04.10 at 6:10 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES – Throughout the postseason, players have studied Ray Allen’s game to learn how to defend the veteran sharpshooter.
Now Allen has his own assignment – finding a way to stop Kobe Bryant without getting into foul trouble.
Allen was whistled for five fouls in the Celtics Game 1 loss. He was limited to just 27 minutes and knows he has to stay on the court in Game 2.
“That’s a good lesson that I need to learn real quick,” he said prior to practice on Friday. “Because even on a couple of calls … I try to read the referees and how they call the games and they establish control early, so trying to figure that out without being a sieve on defense. Right now I’ve got to make that adjustment going into Game 2.”
Bryant scored a game-high 30 points on Thursday night. He shot 10-for-22 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line, a result of his aggressiveness at the basket.
“He just attacks,” said Allen. “He’s going to attack our defense, but I think primarily if he’s attacking that means he sees gaps.”
Whatever game plan Allen and the Celtics devise, Bryant is preparing for it.
“It’s not really a match up with me and Ray,” he said. “It’s really me trying to find gaps and holes in their defensive scheme and the help they provide.”
|Lakers key to defending Rondo||at 5:48 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — With a new series upon us, we have yet another defensive gameplan geared to stopping Rajon Rondo.
The obvious opening gambit for the Lakers is assigning Kobe Bryant the task of guarding Rondo. Bryant is bigger than Rondo and will play off him to try to prevent him from getting to the paint. That is nothing new, of course. The Heat did it with Dwyane Wade. The Cavs did it with Anthony Parker and LeBron James.
But Rondo has said that he never concerns himself with the first defender. He always has his eye on the second wave and the Laker big men have a plan, as well.
“What happens is, he’s the kind of guy who waits for the bigs to cut and then he drops passes off to them,” Andrew Bynum said. “We’re trying to make him finish, and wait until he goes to shoot the ball instead of committing to him earlier. It gets their team going when KG gets dunks, when [Kendrick] Perkins gets dunks and screams and all that. We just want to eliminate all of that.”
The Lakers have faced a gauntlet of elite point guards in the playoffs, including Utah’s Deron Williams and Phoenix’s Steve Nash, but it was their first round opponent who provided the best test case.
“Russell Westbrook really got us prepared because he’s going to take it right to you,” Bynum said. “He’s athletic enough that he’ll jump over you.”
Rondo may not have quite the straight-forward athleticism that Westbrook has, but he has mastered the art of angles and has proven adept at getting off shots and using the glass. He noted that Pau Gasol was able to block two of his shot attempts and that he’ll have to come up with a counter move, but he insisted that it’s really all on him to make the right decisions.
“I think I drew their bigs a couple of times and got Perk to the free throw line,” Rondo said. “But other than that, it’s my read really. It’s nothing that [an opposing] big can do or sense. It’s all on me, my judgment, knowing how to play the game.”
The other obvious adjustment for Rondo and the Celtics is getting out in transition. They had only five fast-break points in six chances and that has to do with defensive rebounding and coming up with loose-ball rebounds.
“We had a film clip with all the 50-50 plays, and I don’t think we got any of them,” Rondo said. “They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team.”
That has to change in Game 2 or Rondo will be once again stuck in low gear with an entire defense geared to stop him.
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