|Odom, Artest come through for Lakers||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.
|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.
|Odom: ‘We have quickness and size’ to cover C’s||06.12.10 at 11:16 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics are not the Phoenix Suns. Just ask Lamar Odom and he’ll tell you as much.
The Celtics do not get up and down the court like the Suns. They do have Rajon Rondo but he is a far cry from the scoring threat that is Steve Nash.
The Celtics do have Kevin Garnett but the they don’t use him like the Suns used Amar’e Stoudamire on the pick and roll.
And the Celtics don’t score between 110 and 120 points in every playoff game like the Suns.
In other words, Odom, despite Thursday’s loss in Game 4 at TD Garden, still likes his team’s chances for being able to cover everything the Celtics could throw at them.
“We have the quickness and the size to defend this team,” Odom said. “If we communicate, we’ll be alright. It wasn’t like they scored 125 points or anything like that.”
Time will tell if those words are enough to bring out more masks or spark more chants directed at his wife Khloe Kardashian.
Odom can’t control that but he, like Bynum before him, said the Lakers need to control Glen Davis and Nate Robinson better. The pair, before their Shrek and Donkey routine after Game 4, combined to score 30 points off the bench.
“Even with Glen Davis getting going and a couple of their other guys getting going, it wasn’t a barn-burner for them offensively,” Odom said.
|Lakers get cash for drawing charges||06.02.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has tried every approach he can to get his players to take charges. The coach’s strategy includes insulting them — calling his big men “thin-chested” — as well as offering $50 cash for each charge.
“To motivate us in a way to take charges and getting away with it,” Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic told ESPN’s Shelley Smith.
Vujacic said the Lakers see an opportunity to get some spending money vs. the Celtics.
“Their whole team is kind of a charging possibility taking team,” he said. ” We’ve just got to be smart. They are a very smart team that can go from block to a charge, so we’ve been working a lot on charges and how to take them and stuff, so, we’ll see.”
The ESPN story indicated the money comes from players’ fines — for example, the team collects $25 from a player every time he gets called for illegal defense. Assistant coach Frank Hamblen said Lamar Odom has been keeping the pot full.
“I mean, I just pencil him in every night for illegal defense,” Hamblen said. “I ask him every night: ‘Lamar, you know the illegal defense rules, don’t you?’ ”
Hamblen said the Lakers haven’t had many takers in the charge-drawing sweepstakes. At least one player isn’t interested in that strategy.
“I don’t even know how to take a charge,” Ron Artest said. “To get the charge, you have to fall. I’d rather not fall. You call an offensive foul [on the New York playgrounds], possibly be a fight. That’s just how we grew up playing basketball.”
|Going from Gold to Green||05.31.10 at 2:51 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Tony Gaffney began his rookie season in purple and gold. This week he is headed back to the Staples Center, this time wearing green and white.
Gaffney, a Boston native, was signed to the Lakers training camp roster last summer after going undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts. He was the was the last player cut from training camp and went overseas to play in Israel before being signed by the Celtics in April.
It has been months since he returned to Los Angeles, and he’s thrilled to be arriving as a member of the Celtics.
“I wouldn’t want to be going back any other way. I’m looking forward to it,” he said before the team flew out to California on Monday. “It’s definitely unique, and having the two teams [that I’ve played for] be the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers makes it that much more special. Obviously they’re two top of the line, class A organizations, it’s no surprise as to why they are in the finals. Having gotten the chance to witness that and see it firsthand, to me this all makes sense.”
Even though Gaffney has been on the inactive list during the postseason, he still can help the Celtics without being on the court. He learned the Lakers offense “fairly well” and was even praised by the organization for picking up the triangle offense so quickly. Gaffney would be happy to pass along his insight.
“I got to know some of the guys pretty well and I was in the gym early morning when Kobe (Bryant) was the first one in there working on his left-handed shots for an hour before practice,” he recalled. “But if any of the guys ask me anything or need anything, I’ll be more than happy to help them out.“
And while he has seen firsthand just how dangerous Bryant can be on the court, Gaffney believes it is another player who can do damage.
“Obviously I believe Pau (Gasol) and Kobe make that team go, but I think as Lamar goes, they go,” he said. “When he gets off and he’s doing what he’s capable of doing, they’re tough to beat. But we have a counter to that and we have probably the best defensive team in the league. And I think keeping Lamar Odom in check is going to be huge in this series and we’ll have to go from there.”
Gaffney is confident the Celtics have the pieces to win it all. Even though he still has his Lakers jersey, it is a reminder of his journey that has led him back to the team he hopes will win it all.
“I’m blessed to have been able to be part of both organizations,” he said, “And now have a chance to win it with the greatest organization in the NBA.”
|Rivers on D&C: ‘You feel a responsibility’ to beat LA||at 11:02 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the NBA finals against the Lakers. Rivers said his players do not view themselves as underdogs. “We don’t think that way,” he said. “We don’t care what others think. We believed going into the playoff rounds that we could get here and win it. We thought we needed to be healthy, and we did get healthy. I don’t know how healthy we are now, but we’re getting closer again. That was key for us. We just believe that the 23-5 team was the real team, at the beginning of the season. The 27-27 the rest of the way was due to different circumstances that had nothing to do with basketball. And we believe that as a group.”
Rivers talked about the respect he has for the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. “It means a lot,” he said. “I know the history. I love the history of the game. To be part of it is huge for me, personally. But you feel a responsibility. You don’t want them to beat you. And that’s just the bottom line. Let’s say you were playing Phoenix. You still would want to win the world championship, obviously. But you’re playing the Lakers, and it’s like you’re thinking more about you want to beat them and less about wanting to win the title. And that’s probably good.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
What is your schedule?
The schedule is we’re practicing at 11 o’clock. And then right after practice we’re jumping on a plane and flying out a day early — just with the time change and stuff. Then we’ll practice at UCLA tomorrow. Then we’ll have that league-mandated practice on Wednesday that I love so much.
Was that Nate Robinson’s 15 minutes of fame, or are we going to see more of Nate Robinson?
I think you’ll see more of him. It’s funny what you learn in losses. Nate Robinson didn’t play because we needed him in Game 6. Nate Robinson played because he played so well in Game 5, the game that Orlando beat us. It wasn’t the offensive end, it was the defensive end. He was doing all the things that we needed him to do, that we worked with him on. You could see that he had bought in. I remember turning to our bench early on and saying, “Hey, Nate’s going to help us.” I didn’t know he was going to do that, obviously, offensively or anything like that. If he can continue to do that, then yeah, he has a chance to help us. Read the rest of this entry »