The Boston Celtics completed the largest Finals comeback in more than 35 years, eliminating what was once a 24 point Lakers lead for a 97-91 win that puts them one victory away from winning an NBA title.
The Lakers led by 21 points after the first quarter–the largest lead after one quarter in Finals history–and held an 18 point lead at halftime. However, Boston caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers by a 31-15 margin to crawl within two of L.A. heading into the final quarter.
“Some turnaround in that ballgame,” said an obviously stunned Coach Jackson after the game. “The air went out of that building. You’ve got to give them credit. Their defense was up to the task in the third quarter and changed some momentum of the game.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points, but Boston received clutch secondary contributions from Ray Allen (19 points) and James Posey (18 points). That smaller lineup, coupled with Eddie House’s 11 points, were pivotal in overturning the Lakers’ lead in the decisive, game-changing third quarter.
Continue reading ‘The Finals Game 4: Post-Game’
Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Celtics: Scot Pollard, Gabe Pruitt, Brian Scalabrine
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Coby Karl, DJ Mbenga
11:49 Obviously heeding the advice of Coach Jackson, Odom starts the scoring off for both teams by making an aggressive drive to the basket, drawing a goaltending call for a 2-0 Lakers lead. Hopefully, the move is a sign of things to come for the forward.
10:05 The strong start for the Lakers continues as Kobe, Odom and Gasol put on a clinic in interior passing, with Kobe throwing it Odom who dished a perfect pass to a running Pau who slammed it home to give the Lakers an early 7-2 lead.
8:31 The crowd is rocking early after consecutive layups by Lamar who has clearly come into tonight’s game a determined man, leading the team with six points. After a low-key Game 3, the atmosphere inside STAPLES Center is absolutely electric tonight.
6:39 Doc Rivers is forced to call timeout after another series of perfect passes results in Odom’s fourth layup of the game already. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ offense is looking as crisp as it has all series, now up by double digits early 16-6. All five players on the floor have scored.
Continue reading ‘The Finals Game 4: In-Game’
Before tonight’s pivotal Game 4 against the Celtics, Coach Jackson addressed the lack of physicality in Pau Gasol’s game after the center has been unable to sustain his performance from previous playoff series.
“I think that would be a reputation that Pay came to us with,” said Jackson. “I think that’s one of the reasons perhaps we were fortunate enough to get him in the draft situation is that perhaps that had been carried with him, that perhaps he was not a center, he was more of a forward type player.”
Jackson added, “The last game obviously wasn’t a great game for him, but we believe that he’s going to have another real good game for us. I won’t touch the soft, though (smiling).”
While Gasol has experienced his fair share of criticism throughout the first three games of the Finals, Lamar Odom’s sub par performance has also been placed under the national spotlight–something that has not fallen on deaf ears for Jackson.
“Well, Lamar is our best rebounder, and one of the things they’ve been doing is neutralizing him on the defensive boards by just–he’s guarding Perkins, and Perkins is just plowing him under the basket,” said Jackson. “He’s got to get back and get rebounds because from there springs out transition game where he’s so effective.”
According to the Lakers coach, Odom needs to find a way to maneuver around Garnett as well, who has been playing what Jackson labeled a “spy game,” going wherever he is most needed on defense, often in Lamar’s path.
What Went Right:
• Kobe had his best shooting night of the series so far, making 12-20 shots en route to a game-high 36 points. Moreover, the MVP came through when it mattered most, making critical buckets in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory for the Lakers.
• While Bryant’s effort was important, Boston Coach Doc Rivers said that Sasha’s 20 point outburst was the key to the game. Vujacic was similarly clutch too, making the biggest three pointer of his life with just under two minutes to go to create some distance from the Celtics.
• The Lakers played stellar defense on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, holding the star duo to a combined 8-35 shooting and 19 points. After the game, Coach Jackson singled out Kobe for his defense on Pierce in particular, holding the forward to a series low six points.
• After dishing out 16 assists in Game 2, Rajon Rondo suffered an injured ankle that is threatening his status for tonight’s Game 4. In Game 3, the young Celtics guard only scored eight points to go along with four assists and wasn’t much of a factor on offense.
Continue reading ‘The Finals Game 3: What Went Right/Wrong’
Before last night’s game against the Celtics–the first of the series in which the Lakers shot more free throws than Boston–Coach Jackson said that he thinks teams would benefit if there were more separation between the league and its referees.
Jackson elaborated on his point after practice today, saying, “You know, I don’t think it’s developed far enough to talk about actually an entity that would operate separate ad apart or satellite apart from the NBA and run the referees from outside the league office and then have a certain sense of their training, their policing and their governing those people.”
“But, it seems to be more consistent with what we want to have happen to keep it from being influenced or being–somehow or other indiscretions happening inside the refereeing in the league office. It’s cast apprehensions in the quality of what we’re getting.”
With that said, Jackson said that he believes NBA referees have an impossible job, praising today’s officials for “doing as good a job as they possibly can.”
Continue reading ‘Jackson Says Refs Have Impossible Job’
Although Lamar Odom has struggled so far in his NBA Finals debut, averaging just nine points and eight rebounds, the forward remains optimistic that he’ll finally breakthrough in Game 4.
Lamar–along with the rest of the Lakers–finally saw signs that he was coming out of his Finals funk toward the end of Game 3 after he made a series of aggressive drives to the hoops resulting in clutch baskets for L.A.
According to the forward, he needs to continue to be active around the hoop with his rebound and defense, even if his shot isn’t falling.
Coach Jackson said before last night’s game that he offered support to Odom–something that came as little surprise to to Lamar.
“He knows what to expect of me and I know what to expect of myself,” said Odom.
After Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce both struggled mightily in Game 3, Coach Jackson and Kobe both said that they believe they’ll perform better in tomorrow night’s game. While the Lakers’ defense on the duo certainly had something to do with it, the Lakers understand that the pair also missed their fair share of open shots as well.
“I don’t think we take away anything from it,” said Bryant. “In this kind of series, I don’t think there’s any particular game that will carry over to the next. Every game is its own isolated thing.”
According to Jackson, Pierce and Garnett were not their usual selves in last night’s game, reiterating that point to his team as they prepare to try and duplicate the defensive effort in Game 4.
“Well, I think they have to understand that this is a game that was just a down game for them (Pierce and Garnett),” Jackson said. “They’ll adjust to this court. They’ll get themselves in better shape for the next game. They’ll have a better offensive opportunity.”
Continue reading ‘Lakers Expect Improvement From KG, Pierce’
After losing the first two games of The Finals on the road, the Lakers–Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic in particular–finally put their stamp on the series, coming through with a much-needed Game 3 win 87-81 over the Celtics.
The Lakers MVP dominated Boston’s defense down the stretch of the fourth quarter on his way to a game-high 36 points to go with seven rebounds. However, it was the unexpected 20 point contribution from reserve Sasha Vujacic that propelled L.A. to their first win of The Finals.
After the game, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers praised Bryant’s clutch all-around effort, but gave even more credit to one of the most unlikely Lakers heroes.
“Kobe was fantastic tonight, but I thought Vujacic was the key to the game,” said Rivers of Sasha’s 7-10 shooting performance, including a game-clinching three pointer with 1:15 remaining.
“He believes in himself very sincerely that he’s going to make the next one, and you have to be that way if you’re going to have the guts to go out there and do it,” said Jackson. “Sasha is always going to make the next shot. That one might have been off, but the next one is going in.”
Continue reading ‘The Finals Game 3: Post-Game’
10:18 After a sloppy first two minutes of play, the Lakers finally get on the board with a free throw by Gasol after L.A. received their first foul call of the game–much to the delight of a raucous STAPLES Center crowd. Early on, it’s Celtics 2, Lakers 1.
9:00 Odom stops midway into his drive and dishes to a wide-open Radmanovic who drains the three to give the Lakers a 6-2 lead a lot of early momentum. It’s only been three minutes, but the purple and gold are sending an early message to the Celtics that the two teams aren’t in Boston anymore. More good news for the Lakers, Kobe’s driven to the basket on each of his past three possessions after hearing criticism from across the nation for taking too many jump shots in Games 1 and 2.
7:32 Standing ovation for the Lakers heading into the timeout after a steal by Fisher led to a near monstrous dunk by Kobe. Instead, the MVP will head to the line for a pair with a chance to add on to the Lakers’ early 9-2 lead. L.A. is playing with an incredible amount of energy in the first four and half minutes of the game, obviously feeding off a hungry crowd that’s desperate for a Lakers victory.
Continue reading ‘The Finals Game 3: In-Game’
In wake of new allegations from former referee Tim Donaghy that state that NBA playoff series were affected by NBA referees per the direction of league officials–including the 2002 Lakers vs. Kings series that went seven games–Coach Phil Jackson said that he has long felt that the NBA and referees should operate as separate organizations. According to Jackson, NBA coaches are simply seeking balance from referees when making calls.
Jackson also addressed Kobe’s vocal leadership style in the team’s Game 1 and 2 losses in Boston. After Boston pitcher Kurt Schilling–seated courtside for Sunday’s game–publicly condemned Bryant in his blog for yelling at his teammates–the Lakers coach said that he is perfectly content with Kobe’s tactics, even going so far as to say that sometimes, players like Vladimir Radmanovic need an extra boost to kick them into gear on the floor. In Jackson’s opinion, Schilling and others shouldn’t be allowed to sit so close to NBA benches, but the coach knows that the NBA will never take away those seats from the general public.
After struggling through the first two games against the Celtics, Jackson also said that he offered his support to Lamar Odom along with some video to try and help jumpstart his game. For the Lakers to be effective, Jackson said that they need Lamar to reassume his status as a triple-double threat.