Monthly Archive for May, 2008

Lakers vs. Celtics Season Series Recap takes a look back the historic rivals’ two regular season meetings this year. Both teams will have a decidedly different look when they meet in Boston this Thursday, with the Celtics picking up savvy veterans Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown to join in their championship run and the Lakers making an even bigger splash by acquiring Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol to help fill the void left by Andrew Bynum’s injury.

November 23: Lakers 94, Boston 107
Boston jumped out to a quick 25-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and the Lakers were unable to recover, trailing by 18 at halftime in an eventual 94-107 loss. The Celtics’ vaunted “Big Three” were on full display in the early-season tilt, combining for 59 points, led by 21 points and 11 rebounds from newcomer Kevin Garnett.

Young center Kendrick Perkins also turned in a surprising 21 point, nine rebound performance. Kobe led the way in scoring for L.A. with 28, but only Vladimir Radmanovic managed to score more than 18 points in what was another display of the then 10-1 Celtics’ dominance in the first half of the season.

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WCF Recap: What Went Right/Wrong

Before the Lakers take on the Celtics in the NBA Finals, we take a look back at what worked and what didn’t for the purple and gold in their successful four games to one take down of the Defending Champion San Antonio Spurs.

What Went Right:
• Just in case there were any doubters left out there regarding Kobe’s MVP candidacy, #24 answered their questions and then some, averaging a team-high 29 points while putting the Lakers on his back in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s series-clinching game.

• After emerging as arguably the Spurs’ most important player on offense this season, the injury-ravaged Manu Ginobili fell flat on his face for most of the series against the Lakers, only mustering 13 points on a forgettable 36% shooting from the floor. While Ginobili may not have been completely healthy, the Lakers’ defense deserves at least some of the credit for his ineffectiveness.

• As a team, the Lakers held the Spurs to just 88 points per game in the series’ five games–a stark contrast to their lackluster defensive efforts against the Nuggets and Jazz in previous rounds.

• Jordan Farmar awoke at just the right time for L.A., showing a night and day-like difference in confidence level compared to the Utah series. Against the Spurs, the UCLA alum averaged eight points and sparked Lakers’ rallies in pivotal victories in Games 1 and 5.

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WCF Game 5: Lakers vs. Spurs Post-Game

The reign of the San Antonio Spurs is over after the Lakers mounted a furious rally from 17 points down to win 100-92. The victory not only eliminated the Spurs four games to one, but sent L.A. to their first NBA Finals in four seasons.

After the game, Coach Jackson made sure to congratulate the Spurs for a noble attempt at defending their championship trophy.

“First of all, let me say a heartfelt congratulations to the Spurs for their run this season,” said Jackson. “They put a lot of dedication into it. I know how difficult it is when you have gone through the duration of seasons they’ve had to keep that energy going.”

Although Jackson played Kobe more minutes than he would have liked, the Lakers needed every one of the MVP’s game-high 39 points.

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2008 NBA Finals Schedule

Game 1 – Thu June 5 LAL at Bos or Det 6:00PM PDT, ABC
Game 2 – Sun June 8 LAL at Bos or Det 6:00PM PDT, ABC

Game 3 – Tue June 10 Bos or Det at LAL 6:00PM PDT, ABC
Game 4 – Thu June 12 Bos or Det at LAL 6:00PM PDT, ABC
Game 5 * Sun June 15 Bos or Det at LAL 6:00PM PDT, ABC

Game 6 * Tue June 17 LAL at Bos or Det 6:00PM PDT, ABC
Game 7 * Thu June 19 LAL at Bos or Det 6:00PM PDT, ABC
* If Necessary
All games broadcast by ABC
All games radio broadcast on AM 570 KLAC

WCF Game 5: Lakers vs. Spurs In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Spurs: DerMarr Johnson, Ian Mahinmi, Damon Stoudamire
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Coby Karl, Ira Newble

1st Quarter:
11:49 Gasol follows up Radmanovic’s near layup by slamming the ball home to send the energetic, yellow-clad crowd to their feet just 11 seconds into the game. Pau’s aggression is a good sign for the Lakers after he only scored 10 points in the Lakers’ Game 4 victory.

9:05 With the Lakers looking a little confused on offense in their early possessions, Kobe finds a way to score all by himself, making a contested fadeaway jumper that ends a 5-0 Spurs run. It’s early, but both teams seem to be playing with a lot of energy–San Antonio knowing its season is on the line and the Lakers, fully aware that a win tonight equals a birth in the NBA Finals.

6:38 Radmanovic hits a high-arching three pointer to tie the game at 11 nearly halfway through the opening quarter. The make sends San Antonio into their first timeout of the night with Popovic obviously not pleased with the open look for one of the Lakers’ best outside shooters.

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WCF Game 5: Lakers vs. Spurs Pre-Game

Before tonight’s potential series-clinching game against San Antonio, Coach Jackson said that he opted against any kind of prolonged pre-game speech, instead showing the team clips from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross in which one of the memorable quotes is “always be closing.”

Jackson also spoke about the NBA’s public statement declaring that a foul should have been called on Derek Fisher on the last play of the Lakers’ Game 4 victory. Jackson said that the league’s ruling came as a surprise to him since “the league normally doesn’t get involved in stuff like that.”

Regardless of his own feelings on the merits of the non-call, Jackson said that the team is happy to be home tonight, leading the Spurs three games to one. “We can’t give it back and we’ll take it and move on,” said the Lakers coach.

According to Jackson, NBA referees arguably have the hardest job amongst officials in any professional sport due to the physicality of the game. Jackson said he tips his hat off to NBA refs, praising them for always doing the best that they can to call the game fairly, which is an almost possible thing to do.

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WCF Game 4: What Went Right/Wrong

What Went Right:
• Kobe’s steady leadership guided the Lakers throughout Game 4 as the MVP scored 28 points to lead the team. Bryant also tied Gasol for the team-high in rebounds with 10.

• After a poor showing in Game 3, Lamar Odom rebounded well in Game 4, contributing 16 points to go along with nine rebounds. Moreover, many of the forward’s points came in a pivotal fourth quarter stretch in which the Lakers seized control of the game once and for all.

• Manu Ginobili played more than 36 minutes, but was held to a measly seven points on just 2-8 shooting from the field, essentially relegating him to non-factor status for San Antonio’s offense.

• The Lakers excelled on the glass, outrebounding San Antonio by a decisive 46-37 margin, including an impressive 13-8 edge in offensive rebounds.

• Luke Walton showed signs of life after a quiet few games, scoring nine points on 4-10 shooting from the field. Similarly, Derek Fisher also rebounded for nine points on 4-7 shooting.

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Lakers Ready for Dog Fight in Game 5

With only a win tomorrow over the Spurs standing in the way of the Lakers’ first trip to the NBA Finals in four years, the team is confident they can get the job done, but still mindful of San Antonio’s experienced squad.

Derek Fisher–a key player on last year’s Jazz team that had a chance to defeat the Spurs and advance to the finals–is particularly appreciative of the opportunity the Lakers have in front of them.

“This doesn’t come around every season,” said Fisher. “There’s been hundreds of guys that have played many years in this league and haven’t really gotten this opportunity so you have to cherish it and appreciate it.”

According to the veteran, the key to this year’s team is the chemistry that has been carefully fostered all season long, even with several roster changes threatening to ruin the team dynamic.

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WCF Game 4: Lakers at Spurs Post-Game

Thanks to the steady play of Kobe and a return to form by key role players, the Lakers thwarted San Antonio’s last-minute rally, 93-91, and now stand just one away game from a birth in the NBA Finals. San Antonio nearly had a chance to either tie or win the game with no time remaining in regulation, but the officials ruled no foul on a bump by Derek Fisher on Brent Barry as he was going up for a three point attempt.

“I felt like I left my feet with enough distance to come down,” said Fisher. “I think the contact was more incidental on that part of both players. I would like to think if the guy is just shooting and the defender runs right through him, they would call the foul.”

Foul or no foul, Lamar Odom credited the Spurs’ resilience in the final minute and a half of the fourth quarter after the Lakers had built a nine point lead.

“They made plays…they’re a good team,” said Odom. “It’s a team that’s been there and done that. It showed tonight. They have the hearts of a champion, and they showed it right to the last second.”

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WCF Game 4: Lakers at Spurs In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Games:
Spurs: Damon Stoudamire, DeMarr Johnson, Ian Mahinmi
Lakers: Coby Karl, Ira Newble, Andrew Bynum

1st Quarter

  • The fans lustily boo the officials when they’re images are put up on the big screen. This can be squarely attributed to Joey Crawford and the run in he had with Tim Duncan last season when Joey tossed Duncan from a game for laughing. Crawford was suspended and Duncan was fined. Crawford is a veteran official who has been around long enough for this to be a non-issue tonight, but I’m sure the crowd won’t see it that way.
  • The Lakers jump out to a quick 10-4 lead three minutes into the game that causes Coach Popovich to call an early TO to talk to his troops. Balanced scoring and easy baskets so far for the Purple & Gold. Vladi is involved early with a dunk on the fast break and a 17-footer.
  • Three minutes after the first Spurs timeout of the evening comes the second and Pop is animated, slapping his head in a “THINK!!!” motion as his team huddles around. The ball movement for the Lakers is dramatically improved from Game 3. They’re also double teaming Duncan much earlier than in previous games and we get our first taste of Kobe defending Manu this series. 18-8 Lakers.
  • Odom has been very careful throughout the series to not jump out on Parker too far when he goes around the pick and roll, thus not allowing him to split the defenders and have an easy path to the rack–Pau has not been as careful. Parker was given way too much space to fly to the middle and Lamar pays the price as he tries to help with his second foul of the game. Fish also picks up a quick second foul with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. We haven’t seen either of these guys in real foul trouble since games three and four in Utah. Those games ended in Lakers losses, but right now they lead 25-17 as Walton and Farmar are in for the foul prone.

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