Archive for the 'Finals' Category

Lakers Championship Parade: Snap Shots

Before the Lakers go their separate ways for a summer shortened by another NBA title, they gathered to celebrate with their city.

After boarding a series of Purple and Gold buses, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and their teammates, coaches, families and team staff took a tour down Figueroa Street to share their championship with Los Angeles.

Team photographer Andrew D. Bernstein and his staff were along to document the ride, and we included a few of the shots below:

The players, coaches and their families rode this float, which they boarded just outside STAPLES Center. Word is, one or two people wanted to see the Black Mamba, who was front and center with his family (obviously).

Sasha Vujacic described a terrific scene on Figueroa: “Just seeing how happy the people are is amazing.” He had less fun listening to Bryant relay his feelings about Team USA’s disallowed goal against Vujacic’s native Slovenia.

No one enjoyed the parade more than Ron Artest, pictured here with a hat constructed by his seven-year-old daughter, Diamond, who wrote “I love you Dad #37″ on it. Her daddy said he wasn’t thrilled that the color pink on the hat … but that was about the only thing he didn’t enjoy on Monday.

Lamar Odom had his wife Khloe on hand for the celebration, not to mention his (two-time) friend Larry O’Brien.

There’s Larry again, held up in the air for the fifth time by Bryant to unanimous cheers. No. 24 averaged 29.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals throughout a fantastic playoff run that ultimately brought him his second straight Bill Russell Finals MVP award.

As Kobe said on the championship podium following Game 7, he “couldn’t have done it without The Spaniard,” (conveniently) pictured in the foreground of a Spanish-style church. Gasol, arguably the NBA’s best all-around big man, averaged 19.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 blocks in the postseason.

60827356We’ll close out the snap shots with this image of the main float, near the start of the following route that the Lakers shared with hundreds of thousands of their fans: STAPLES, south on Figueroa, past L.A. Convention Center, under Santa Monica Freeway, past Washington Blvd., over Harbor Freeway, past Adams Blvd., left on Jefferson Ave., stop at USC’s Galen Center.

Ron Artest Postgame 7 Quotes

60789947The man Phil Jackson called Game 7′s most valuable player was not Finals MVP Kobe Bryant or impressive-as-ever Pau Gasol, but the only Laker without a ring, Ron Artest.

Thanks in large part to his 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, clutch three with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter and defense on Paul Pierce – holding Boston’s No. 1 offensive option to 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting – he has one now.

Artest also offered among the most colorful, honest and rambling press conferences ever after the contest:

Q. Two parts: 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, seems like you had your hand in every play for the Lakers tonight. Is that why you came here?
RON ARTEST: Oh, man, first I want to say, you know, that God put me in a situation before I go real crazy, got put me in a situation, and I want to thank Him for the blessing, a Game 7, home court advantage. We give away Game 2, or I gave away Game 2. Game 7, you go to bed, I want to thank God for this blessing to be here.

And the one thing I said earlier was when I was younger, I bailed out on my Indiana team. I was so young, so egotistical, and I bailed out on Donnie, Larry, Jermaine, Tinsley, Foster, who never bails out. He just fights for you, for his team. Stephen Jackson who already had a ring, continued to fight for us, et cetera. I feel sometimes like a coward when I see those guys, because it’s like man, I’m on the Lakers and I had a chance to win with you guys, and I feel almost like a coward. I never thought God would put me in this situation again because of that.

So I’m blessed, and I totally forgot the question you asked. (Laughter).

60788306Q. 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, seems like you had your hand in every play for the Lakers tonight. Is that why you came here?
RON ARTEST: Well, Game 3 we won, I had two points. I always tell people it’s about the total points. If I have two or three rebounds and play 40 minutes but we won the Game 60 40 or something like that, what did we do as a team, not what I did. A lot of people are asking me when are you going to step up, score 40, do this, do that. What did we do as a team? It doesn’t matter what I did. Tonight was one of those nights where I had 20 points, and I still think we did that as a team.

We fought together. This was one of the best games of I don’t even know, man. I don’t want to be in a game like this. Where the game came out either way on our own floor and the game can go either way, and I’m just like, okay, what did I get myself into. What did I get myself into. Honestly I’ve got to thank my doctor, Dr. Santi (phonetic). She would come and help me relax in these moments because usually I’m not good at these moments, and I know that about myself. You know, so what do I do to be good at these moments? You figure it out.

And I needed some type of way to relax during these moments. I missed a couple threes that I was wide open that I wish I would have went down and I trusted everything she told me as far as relaxing, and bam, the big three goes in. I didn’t even realize I was really in Game 7, I was so caught up in the game itself. I’ve been telling you guys that for a long time now.

Q. Forget the second question. Just say “Queensbridge.”
RON ARTEST: Jeff Van Gundy, please, when you see this, say “Queensbridge.” So I’m so happy right now, I don’t know what to say, man. I don’t know.

Q. You played a lot of minutes tonight.
RON ARTEST: 46 minutes tonight.

60789399Q. Back in Boston, you struggled, the team struggled, and it looked like the gravity was too much for you at the free throw line at a key moment, didn’t go in, didn’t execute. At a moment when the gravity seemed to be affecting Kobe and Pau and of course the defense of the Celtics, you were the one who stepped in and started to carry the load.
RON ARTEST: I didn’t trust what my doctor told me at the free throw line. I want to be good at those moments because you want to make the NBA, you want to be good. There’s certain things I’m not good at, but I want to be good because I want to win. I didn’t trust myself in those games, and I wouldn’t tell you guys that, not at that time, because then people will feed off that. I didn’t trust in myself at that time at the free throw line, I was disappointed. But I was still alive, we had two more games, and I trusted myself today. I missed one free throw out there and then made a big shot and had a lot to do with relaxing and playing basketball, playing hard, bouncing back. The history of me in the playoffs, which I need to get better at, is playing more consistently throughout the playoffs. The history of me in the playoffs is I have a two good games and then I have a bad game and maybe I might win a Game 6 or lose like last year in Game 7, and that’s something I want to improve on, also. Todays is one of those days where I trusted in myself and I didn’t settle for some shots. I kind of at the right time did exactly what Coach wanted me to do.

I just got to thank Coach Jackson for having me and Kobe and the Lakers for giving me this opportunity, and I’m really, really just enjoying this, and I just can’t wait to go to the club.

Q. Kobe had you guys’ backs so many nights this year, game winners, scoring big. What does it mean for you guys to pick him up like you did tonight?

RON ARTEST: Kobe wants to win. What you saw in Boston Kobe wanted to win. People said he wasn’t passing, blah, blah, blah, but Kobe wanted to win and he didn’t know if he could win playing with us at that time. He wanted to win as a team, though, not going off on his own. Today he wanted to win, he didn’t want to lose. You saw a determined Kobe Bryant, Black Mamba, two four, who wanted to win, but it wasn’t with the team. Late in the second half he started to move the ball and attack and pass and still was Kobe Bryant, and he trusted us and made us feel so good and he passed me the ball. He never passes me the ball, and he passed me the ball. Kobe passed me the ball, and I shot a three. He’s a Zen master, so he can speak to you, and he doesn’t need a microphone, you can hear him in your head, “Ron, don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” whatever, pow, three. I love the Zen, though.

Kobe Bryant Postgame 7 Quotes

60789882Despite making only 6-of-24 shots from the field in Game 7 of the Finals, Kobe Bryant rallied to score 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including eight free throws and a critical pull-up jumper over Ray Allen, and to grab four of his 15 rebounds.

Here’s what Bryant had to say after the contest:

(On-court Trophy Presentation)
Q. How does this championship stand out to you?
KOBE BRYANT: This is the sweetest. We’ve been downplaying the whole series between us and the Celtics and we had to focus on what we had to do, but we understood how bad the city wanted it, there’s no question about it. This one is by far the sweetest because it’s against them and because it’s the hardest one by far.

Q. How did you not get involved in the hype during the run?
KOBE BRYANT: You try not to. Tonight it got the best of me. I wanted it so bad and sometimes you want something so bad it slips away from you. My guys picked me up. I can’t say enough about the Spaniard. That guy is unbelievable and just a hell of a player. We wouldn’t have won it without him.

Q. 15 rebounds, what were you, Kareem out there?
KOBE BRYANT: We jut have to crash the boards. Whoever won the rebounds won each game, so I was trying to get in there and make as many as I could.

Q. You’ve been involved in one of Phil Jackson’s threepeats. What are you going to say to him to convince him to come back?
KOBE BRYANT: He knows how bad I want him back. I’ve told him that. I’ve been openly blunt about that. Let’s go for it again.

60789853Postgame Presser:
Q. You talked on the postgame interview about actually feeling the moment and feeling the pressure, something unaccustomed for you.
KOBE BRYANT: You know, I just wanted it so bad. I wanted it so, so bad. On top of that, I was on E. Man, I was really, really tired. And the more I tried to push, the more it kept getting away from me. I’m just glad that my teammates really got us back in the game. I was thankful that I was able to make one damn shot at the end of the game and made some free throws. But it was a tough one.

Q. You said it was special beating the Celtics, so you did feel a rivalry?
KOBE BRYANT: I was just lying to you guys. When you’re in the moment you have to suppress that because if you get caught up in the hype of it all, you don’t really play your best basketball. But I mean, you guys know what a student I am of the game. I know every series that the Lakers have played in. I mean, I was just a Laker nut, and I know every Celtics series, I know every statistic. It meant the world to me, as well, but I couldn’t focus on that. I had to focus on playing.

Q. When you were struggling what did it mean to you early in the fourth quarter when the fans kind of started chanting “Kobe” to help get you going, encourage you? What did that means to you?
KOBE BRYANT: I’ll be really honest with you, I didn’t even hear them. I was so tired my ears were ringing, they really were. It felt like I was 6:00 in the morning and I was on the track running. I was just drained.

Q. On another note you said after the game, I believe, that this was the hardest of the titles that you’ve won. Just talk about how hard this series was, and was this maybe the most tension filled, feistiest Finals game you’ve been in?
KOBE BRYANT: It was. It was the most physical one. They believed that they could beat us. Obviously what happened in ’08. But the physicality of their team, how smart they are, extremely well coached, and guys made big shots. It was tough. They weren’t going to beat themselves, we had to beat them.

60789513Q. Can you speak in terms of what this means to you individually? We know what it means as a team, but what about individually for you?
KOBE BRYANT: Just got one more than Shaq. (Laughter). You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don’t forget anything.

Q. Now that the season is over and you’re being straight with us, what is the condition of your body and what is the toll of all these games?

Q. What does it feel like?
KOBE BRYANT: It felt good enough to get through the playoffs. I’m obviously going to have to look at the knee and figure some things out. I can’t play a whole entire season the way it is now. But I’ll have to figure some things out. Same thing with the finger. You know, without the tape, I can’t grip a basketball. There’s some things I’ll have to figure out in the off season, but it was good enough to get through this one.

Q. Is it a matter of fixing your body or is it a matter of learning how to play differently as you age?
KOBE BRYANT: No, it’s just an injury, and that’s what drove me nuts and made this even sweeter was everybody kept talking about, he’s old, he’s old. I was hurt. I drained my knee, and all of a sudden reeling off 30 point games like they’re 10 point games and everybody said how young I looked. I was hurt.

Q. You are aware that you’ve played more NBA basketball by a long shot than anyone under the age of 32?
KOBE BRYANT: You want to start my motivation right now for next season? Don’t start with me right now.
Continue reading ‘Kobe Bryant Postgame 7 Quotes’

The Lakers Are Champions of Basketball

60788023For the second straight year and 16th time in franchise history, the Lakers are champions of basketball.

Purple and gold confetti rained down from the STAPLES Center ceiling after a fantastically physical and intense NBA Finals Game 7, the Lakers defeating their most storied opponent, the Boston Celtics, in a game epitomizing L.A.’s collective heart and desire.

Down by as many as 13 points early in the third quarter, and shooting just 31 percent as a team, the Lakers would not be denied while outscoring Boston 30-22 in a dramatic fourth quarter full of massive plays en route to an 83-79 final.

“We did it with perseverance,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, earning his unbelievable 11th coaching title. “It’s about the joy for this group of guys that put so much work (in). They’re a willing group and I’m very proud of them and very happy for them.”

60787939L.A.’s two biggest stars, second-time Finals MVP Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, made only 10-of-34 shots through three quarters in part because they were pressing, they “wanted it so bad,” before ultimately using Jackson’s long-told edict of staying in the moment to combine for 19 points and 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter.

Bryant, pushing so hard to earn his fifth title that he nearly pushed himself into the ground, made just 6-of-24 shots but nailed a big jumper with five minutes to play to give L.A. its first degree of breathing room all game (four points), flew around on defense, hit 8-of-9 fourth quarter free throws and attacked the glass with fury, grabbing 15 rebounds including four in the final minutes.

“I had to do something,” said Bryant. “I had to rebound the ball. Whatever it takes to win the game. That’s my job. Sometimes your shot’s not going to fall and you have to figure it out.”

Speaking of rebounding … Gasol was an absolute Catalan monster, ripping down 18 boards, including nine on the offensive glass, helping L.A. control the backboards by a margin of 53-40.

“We had to play with our hearts, leave it all out there,” said Gasol, who’s been to the Finals in all three of his seasons with the Lakers. “We fought extremely hard. We kept our minds and our hearts in the game at all times.”

Right there with the Mamba and the Spaniard was the man Jackson called the “most valuable player tonight,” Ron Artest, who scored 20 points with five rebounds and five steals including a monumental three-pointer with 1:01 left in the game.

“He brought life to our team,” said Jackson. “He brought life to the crowd.”

60788151Jackson, taking the podium alongside NBA commissioner David Stern, Lakers legend Magic Johnson, owner Dr. Jerry Buss and his team, stated that L.A. may not have been able to do it without what was a remarkable level of support from its fans.

The energy in the building, as the Lakers noted to a man, helped inspire a ridiculous effort on the offensive boards that kept L.A. in a game in which they not only shot only 32.5 percent from the field, but missed 12 free throws.

“We had 23 offensive rebounds,” echoed Jackson, impressed. “It’s just about being persistent and aggressive, getting extra shots. That’s what we did tonight.”

That, and the big plays in crunch time.

Among the late moments that inspired particularly raucous noise levels was a pull-up three-pointer from Derek Fisher, who tied the game at 64 with 6:12 to play. The Lakers would not trail again.

In retrospect, it was particularly poignant moment for Fisher, the team’s emotional and vocal leader, to produce for his team down the stretch for the second time in the Finals (remember Game 3 in Boston?). As big as that shot was, perhaps more important to his team was yet another inspirational on-court speech heading into the final quarter.

Bryant was happy to relay the contents of Fisher’s verbal offerings after saying that there “weren’t enough words of praise” that he could use to describe how he felt about his co-captain.

“Guys we have 12 minutes to dig down, get back in this game,” said Fisher through Bryant. “Everything we worked hard for, we have 12 minutes to put it together.”

That’s exactly what they did.

The result, of course, was the sweetest of all things for an athlete.

A championship.

5 Championships for Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Bryant also earned his second straight Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy behind averages of roughly 28 points, eight boards and four assists in the series, including 23 points and 15 rebounds in Game 7.

16 NBA Championships for the Lakers’ franchise, including two straight.

20 Points for Ron Artest, none bigger than a dagger three-pointer from the wing, off Bryant’s pass, with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter to put the Lakers up 79-73. His fellow Queens, N.Y., native Lamar Odom saved his best play for the second half, during which he scored six of seven points and grabbed five of seven rebounds.

23 Offensive rebounds for the Lakers, led by Pau Gasol’s remarkable nine (of his 17), by far a high for the playoffs and helping the team overcome the following number…

32.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage in the game. The Lakers also missed 12 free throws, but hit 16-of-21 in the deciding fourth quarter, led by Bryant’s 8-of-9.

Los Angeles Lakers – NBA Champions


Lakers 83, Celtics 79: Game 7 Twitter Diary

60786658Lakers – Celtics Gameday Page
Lakers, Celtics. Game 7. How ’bout it? Mike Trudell was typing all the way through on Twitter via the @LakersReporter account to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Adam Morrison
Celtics: Kendrick Perkins (knee)

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace*
*Starting in the absence of Kendrick Perkins, out with a knee injury suffered early in Game 6.

Phil Jackson Pregame Thoughts
Always interesting to hear from a man with 10 NBA coaching rings before a monumental Game 7.
Among his key points:
- Jackson said he was “keyed up” for the game, but kept an even expression on his face. More importantly, he explained that he sensed an outward energy from his players that impressed him (“amped up”). Whether or not that helps his team execute, he wasn’t sure.
- Phil said the Lakers are planning on getting about 10 minutes per half from Andrew Bynum.
- The most interesting of C’s coach Doc Rivers’s comments was that Rasheed Wallace would start in place of Kendrick Perkins, mostly due to the defensive matchup on Bynum, but also because Boston hopes to spread the floor for Rajon Rondo on offense.

Pregame Notes
- Phil has taught his team to “problem solve,” as Kobe said, & to “stay in the moment,” from Fish. What better chance than Game 7?
- Fantastic pregame video on the giant white screens has crowd in a frenzy, then a massive cheer especially for Kobe.
- Only in the Finals do the players get 3 min. to re-warm up after intros. I watched Kobe … only took 6 shots, made ‘em all.
- Mychal Thompson quoting John Wooden on Lakers radio: “Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.”
- And Magic, of course. RT @AndrewSiciliano: West, Kareem, Walton, Russell are all in the house tonight….
- Lakers PA legend Lawrence Tanter: “Ladies and gentlemen … this is Game 7.”

60786542First Quarter
- Lakers went right to Bynum, Wallace defending, & got a great look that rimmed out. Gasol straight to glass, tip missed but L.A. ball.
- Fisher makes L.A.’s first good defensive play, stripping the ball (off Rondo’s leg) … then buried a 3 off Gasol’s 2nd off. reb.
- Great sign for L.A.: Gasol already has 5 OFFENSIVE rebounds. In 3 minutes. Just overwhelming C’s inside.
- The Lakers are pounding the ball inside, going to Bynum/Gasol exclusively aside from that Fisher 3, & lead 7-6 early.
- We’re redefining “Let ‘em play” in the opening minutes … it’s Game 7, after all.
- Though Gasol’s been great on the glass, he’s rushing on offense (1-for-5) & got moved out of paint by KG for Rondo layup (but on the next possession, he executed a glorious post move around Garnett for a made turnaround).
- Wallace is channeling his 2004 self right now, already w/2 blocks, 2 rebounds & 2 buckets. His problem has been conditioning.
- The Lakers are shooting only 22% (ridiculous 4-for-19) but have 9 offensive boards. Boston’s 5-for-10, up 10-9.
- Boston ran a play to get Allen a corner 3 thanks to KG’s screen that Fisher couldn’t get around. 13-11 C’s.
- Kobe finally saw one of his shots go through, a baseline alley-oop layup from Gasol after opening 0-for-4, but Big Baby answered.
- After an intently physical 8 minutes, the Lakers are shooting a horrid 27% (6-of-22), Odom’s in for Bynum off bench.
- Tough break for L.A.: Pierce just stepped in front of Gasol from the side to draw Gasol’s 2nd foul, then PP hit a J. C’s up 19-14.
- Garnett matched Gasol’s offensive foul with one of his own, setting a moving pick on Odom. He goes to bench as well.
- The Celtics closed the 1st Q on a 10-1 run to take a 23-14 lead into the 2nd Q. Lakers rushed on offense, shot 6-for-27 (22%).
The Lakers were, in a word, “tight” in the first quarter, but fortunately had three more quarters to make up for it.

60786549Second Quarter
- It’ll be Farmar, Vujacic, Kobe, Odom & Bynum to start the 2nd against Rondo, T. Allen, R. Allen, Baby & ‘Sheed.
- Fans seemed to need that Bryant pull-up J after up-faking T. Allen. But L.A.’s only 2-for-6 at line after 1-of-2 from Odom. 6-pt. game.
- Artest’s put-back layup, after fighting off Pierce, cut Boston’s lead to 4. 5-0 run to open 2nd has crowd back into the game.
- Artest’s offensive board was the 11th already for L.A. Their high for the series was 16 in Game 5. Gasol has 5, Kobe 3.
- Artest and Vujacic both missed wide, wide open 3′s that would have cut Boston’s lead to 1. Kobe/Pau back in, 9:23 in 2nd.
- It’s now a 9-0 LA run to tie the score, thanks to Artest’s steal and layup. Crowd fully back into it as Odom raises both arms.
- Jack Nicholson was like Kobe when Matt Barnes pretended to throw a ball in his face w/KG diving into crowd.
- Yet another Artest offensive board put LA in front, capping an 11-0 run, before Rondo’s transition hoop stopped the bleeding.
- Lakers have a 9-0 edge in second-chance points thus far; teams a combined 2-for-15 from 3; Boston 6 TO’s to L.A.’s 3.
- Kobe continues to struggle from the field (only 2-for-10), but is working hard. He has 7 rebounds, & just got KG his 3rd PF.
- Artest’s first 3 after 3 misses has the crowd on its feet, tying the game at 29 with 4 min left in 2nd. Ron has 9 pts to lead L.A.
- Very, very odd that Bryant would be 2-for-11, Gasol 3-for-12 and Bynum 1-for-5 but L.A. would down by only 2.
- Boston hasn’t had L.A.’s trouble at the FT line, making all 6 attempts, to L.A.’s 3-for-8, but Kobe’s smooth J cuts lead to 2.
- A quick 5-0 run from the C’s, capped by Pierce’s 3, opened a bit of space at 38-31; Artest’s 2 FT’s then made it 38-33 C’s.
- Where would LA be without Ron Artest in the first half? He leads the Lakers with 12 points, all in the 2nd Q, after 1 more FT.
- L.A. outscored Boston 20-17 in the 2nd to cut the C’s halftime lead to 6 at 40-34. Kobe/Pau 6-for-26 from field.
- LA D was solid in the 2nd Q, but 3 fouls on the perimeter w/Boston in bonus, not 1 a shooting foul, gave C’s 6 late pts.

60786551Third Quarter
- Kobe just concluded a discussion at midcourt with ref Scott Foster before finishing warm ups.
- Nice set play from Boston to open the half, an alley-oop layup from Rondo to Garnett, was answered by Artest’s driving layup.
- Lakers offense still out of sorts in 3rd as Kobe launches a deep 3 and misses, while KG came back with an and-1 to make it 45-36.
- Crowd’s trying to get the Lakers back into it with an impromptu standing O out of a time out. Team looks to need it.
- Boston’s lead reached 13 on Rondo’s put-back layup before Kobe’s 1-of-2 FT’s made it 49-37 C’s. Kobe 3-of-6 FTs, 3-of-17 FG’s.
- L.A. got a FT line J from Kobe & lefty hook from Gasol, and the crowd back in it. 8-point game.
- Boston’s been almost exclusively using isolation plays here, getting another hoop from KG that was answered by Fish’s J.
- OK … well that was quick. Crowd’s even more involved thanks to Odom’s put-back layup. Smart time out by Doc Rivers.
- Certainly was a good time for a 9-2 Lakers run, when Boston’s lead had reached 13. Now same as halftime at 6.
- Huge momentum shift as L.A. got a stop down 6, but Kobe turned it over & Pierce hit a 3. Lead back to 9, crowd back to quiet.
- Odom’s driving lefty layup was answered by another ‘Sheed bank shot. Gasol’s taken only 1 shot in 3rd.
- Phil’s looking for some athleticism here in a tight game (enter Shannon Brown). Gasol’s block of KG & 2 FT’s on O cut lead to 5.
- Rondo was 4-for-17 from the FT line coming into Game 7, & just hit 1-of-2. Artest then gets 5th steal, but turns it over.
- After falling behind by 13 with 8:42 left in the 3rd, L.A. cut 9 points off to make it 57-53 Boston after 3 behind solid D.
- Kobe Bryant has struggled like few could have thought (5-of-20 FG’s) … but has 12 minutes to help win L.A. a title.

60786622Fourth Quarter
- Be interesting to see how the coaches manage minutes here. Players have to be tired after 3 slug-fest quarters.
- Big play from Gasol there for L.A., sinking a jumper in the lane plus the foul. Missed FT, but lead down to 2 to start 4th.
- Kobe checked back in after only a minute’s rest, but missed his first jumper after Gasol had earned another possession.
- The crowd was ready to blow the roof off had that Kobe J went down to tie the game, but they have 10+ more minutes.
- Lakers have been fantastic on defense … still trying to get over the hump on offense. 59-55 C’s after KG layup.
- Trying to get himself going, Bryant executed his swing-through move to get 3 FT’s. He made all 3, lead down to 1.
- Great help defense from rotations from L.A. didn’t matter as Allen hit a runner. Tough play, 61-58 C’s.
- Ron Artest continued an inspired performance with a 3-point play to tie the game at 61. Crowd going bonkers.
- Among the league’s best FT shooters ever just missed a big one, but made 2nd to put C’s back up 1. Great crowd. Fish back in.
- Offensive glass has kept L.A. in the game … another off. reb. got Gasol 2 FT’s, but he missed both. L.A. has missed 10 FT’s.
- Fisher hadn’t taken a shot in forever, but just swished a 3 to tie it. Kobe will head to line after his 12th reb., PF on Davis.
- OK folks … Lakers & Celtics Game 7, tied at 64, with Kobe heading to the line for L.A. 5:56 to play. Intense much?
- By the way, both teams will need to bury the most critical of pressure FT’s, with both teams already in bonus, 6 min to play.
- Bryant’s 2 FT’s swished through, much like his previous 3. Lakers lead for first time in 2nd half, at 66-64.
- Crowd going completely nuts after Kobe’s pull-up jumper. Boy, did he, and L.A., need that one. Lakers by 4.
- Kobe not only hit that pull-up J from about 18 feet, but had also cleared the defensive board. 20 points, 13 rebounds.
- Cannot stress enough how critical the crowd has been here for L.A.’s defense, willing stop after stop.
- L.A.’s 9-0 run was finally stopped by a Pierce J. 70-66, 3:30 to go.
- Yup, he struggled all game, but L.A.’s going to Kobe here. He earned 2 FT’s on a hard drive, made 1, lead at 5.
- Huge defensive stop from L.A. there … now Gasol’s going back to line, 2:20 left, after PP tried to draw a charge.
- Gasol hit 1-of-2, & Pierce drew Artest’s PF to get to the line. 74-70 L.A. after 2 makes, 2:14 to play.
- Odom missed a corner 3, but Gasol swatted Pierce to get the ball back to L.A. 1:46 to play. Insane tension.
- And that was a massive basket from the Spaniard. Pau Gasol, with 3 defenders, nailed a baseline leaner. L.A. by 6, 1:30 left.
- Kobe and Gasol have combined for 17-of-23 Laker points in the 4th after just 23 total through 1st 3 Q’s on 9-of-33 FG’s.
- OH MY GOODNESS. Ron Artest buried a 3 with 1 minute left … to answer Rasheed’s 3.
- Then Ray Allen nailed a 3 to answer Artest’s! Ridiculous!
- Another enormous play from Pau Gasol, who snatched Kobe’s missed 3, fed Kobe, who drew Wallace’s 6th foul.
- Kobe’s 2 FT’s, both makes, put L.A. up 81-76 with 25.7 seconds left. Talk about critical foul shots.
- Bynum ran out to midcourt to hug the Spaniard, who is looming ever so large after his 9th off. reb., 17th total.
- Crazy shot making continues as Rondo, who’d taken only 4 threes in the Finals, made one in the corner. Lead at 2, 13 sec. left.
- Vujacic calmly sank the 1st … then swished home the 2nd. Lead’s back to 2 possessions. Massive FT’s from Sasha.
- Those 2 Vujacic FT’s were the 1st bench pts for L.A. from someone not named Odom, who has 7. C’s bench only 6 pts. Starters game.
- The Lakers have captured their 2nd straight NBA Title.
- The Lakers outscored Boston 30-22 in the 4th Q, with their stars Bryant and Gasol carrying so much crunch time weight.
- Bryant finished with 23 points & 15 rebounds, and Gasol 19 and 18 after both struggled so much in first 3 quarters.
- What a game from Ron Artest, who came up with 20 points, 5 steals and 5 rebounds when he was needed most.
- The players are now spending time sharing hugs and tears on the court, with Phil Jackson, he of 11 titles, joining them.
- A fantastic game, truly a battle, ends with an 83-79 score. The Lakers are champions again.

Stay tuned for plenty more on

Video Preview: Finals Game 7

Lakers, Celtics, Game 7.

Could there be anything better in basketball?


For a game that really needs no preview, we still sat down alongside assistant coach Frank Hamblen to break things down for you.

In the final coach scouting report of the season, Hamblen detailed the importance of again controlling the glass as L.A. did so successfully in Game 6, what to anticipate from Boston with starting center Kendrick Perkins out with a knee injury, the all-important matchup between Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol, the expected impact of Kobe Bryant and more.

To watch, just click play above.

Gasol vs. KG Still A Big Key

60765264Before the NBA Finals began two weeks ago, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson identified the matchup between Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett as the one most intriguing to him.

And without question, the power forward showdown has had critical implications on each of the six played games heading into Thursday’s monumental Game 7.

The Lakers put together a dominant Game 6 performance thanks in part to Gasol’s brilliant near triple-double – 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists – after he’d played less than his Spanish best in Beantown.

60766756Earlier this week, we took a look at how much better the two players had played on their respective home courts.

But Game 7 is in L.A., where Garnett’s production has dipped considerably from the 18.7 points, 7.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks he averaged in Boston.

The stats for the three games at STAPLES:

Gasol: 21.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 blocks.
Garnett: 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 0.33 blocks.

Clearly, Boston’s going to need those numbers to be considerably closer to give the Celtics a good chance at winning Game 7, particularly in the absence of starting center Kendrick Perkins, out with a knee injury.

Game 7 Injury Update: Bynum & Perkins

101007645SB_LAKERS_CELTICSClearly there is no shortage of interesting topics about which to opine heading into a Finals Game 7 between L.A. and Boston, but we should start with the nuts and bolts: the injury front.

L.A.’s injury situation remains the same as it’s been since Game 6 of Round 1 when Andrew Bynum hyperextended his right knee. The seven-footer has battled swelling and pain since, but managed to contribute in various ways regardless.

He took himself out of L.A.’s Game 6 victory just two minutes into the second half because the knee wasn’t responding very well to movement, but was able to rest it without checking back in since the Lakers held a commanding 20-odd point lead throughout.

Bynum said both after Tuesday’s game and at Wednesday’s practice that he will play in Game 7, confident that he can get one more effort out of his leg.

“It’s pretty remarkable, I think, what he’s been able to do for us,” said Pau Gasol. “He is a factor every time he’s out there, even though he might be limited.”

The injury news for Boston is more bleak, however.

Just six minutes into Game 6, center Kendrick Perkins injured his right knee, putting him out not just for the rest of the game but also Game 7, as we learned (officially) on Wednesday.

“He’s not going to go,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Once they did the tests that they did and they realized he couldn’t play tomorrow, there was no reason to send him to an MRI, too.”

In other words, Perkins may have suffered more than the currently reported knee sprain, but either way he’s not going to play in Game 7.

Rivers declined to say whether he will start Rasheed Wallace – who probably matches up better defensively with Andrew Bynum – or Glen Davis – who’s been a more effective offensive player throughout the playoffs, but both backup bigs give Boston a variety of different looks.

“Somebody has a great opportunity,” said Rivers. “That’s the way we have to look at it.”

Finals Game 7 Playoff Podcast: Kevin Ding

blog_100521_kevindingWith so many story lines, so much to discuss heading into Game 7 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, we had to spend nearly 24 minutes breaking things down in podcast form with the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding.

Ding, in his third playoff podcast appearance and sixth time covering L.A. in the Finals, went back and forth with us to discuss how the absence of Boston’s Kendrick Perkins (knee) affects the matchups, what to expect from Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett, how Kobe Bryant will approach the contest, what Phil Jackson may want to do from a tactical standpoint, why the Celtics can’t be counted out, how respective bench players could impact things … and, well, everything else.

To listen, click play below.