I Think I’m Going To Boston

Kurt —  January 31, 2007

I Think I’m Just That Tired. Both teams come into this one a little tired, this is the second night of a back-to-back for both teams. Boston lost last night in Indiana, the Lakers lost in New York.

The one guy who shouldn’t be tired — but will be fired up — is Kobe. I’d put that in the plus column for the Lakers.

I Think I Need A New Town. That’s what Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are thinking, or at least Celtics fans are hoping so.

This season has been a disaster for a proud franchise, which is kind of hard to watch. I want the Lakers to crush Boston, every time, but I want to beat them when they are good. As of this morning the Celtics have lost 12 in a row and are 10 games behind the Raptors. Think about that.

I’ll add this — the Celtics may have the most prolific and dedicated group of bloggers out there. That really says something about the fan base considering this season. At the top of the list is Jeff and Celtics Blog, where there are smart commenters and a passionate readers on what I consider the best team blog in the NBA. But also worth noting are Celtics 17, Celtics Pride 24/7, Loy’s Place, I Heart Celtics, Can Danny and Red’s Army. And I’m probably acciedentally leaving someone off.

And when you read those blogs, the talk is often about the draft and getting a top pick — Oden or Durant. They are tired of losing but not angry with Paul Pierce sitting injured because their draft stock is going up (no PP tonight). The “Fire Doc Rivers” calls are put on hold because his coaching could lose them a few more games still.

Oden or Durant in Boston would be good for the NBA.

To Leave All This Behind. The Lakers need to leave behind the memories of the last three games. After two tough overtime losses the rest of the guys didn’t step up when Kobe was forced out. Last night struck me as the kind of game where, because others were off, Kobe might have taken on more of the scoring load and righted the ship. Without him, well, we get the ball in Smush’s hands (you commenters were right, the fourth quarter run died when Smush came in for Farmar).

Also, based on my previous comments about playing Radman now to get the benefits later — Cook was +10 (one of only two Lakers in the positive with Sasha) and Radmanovic was a team-worst -13. I’d like to say its just one game, but this is a pretty consistent pattern.

I Think I Need A Sunrise. The Celtics do have a few young players whose careers are just starting to shine.

At the top of the list is Al Jefferson, who in the past 10 games is averaging 16.4 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He’s developed into a solid double-double guy in the paint nightly and is a beast on the boards, grabbing 19.3% of the available rebounds, the seventh best rate in the league (he’s in KG territory as a rebounder). In the last 10 games Jefferson is shooting 47.9% from the floor. I’m curious to see him and Bynum match up (and if Bynum can stay out of foul trouble).

Other guys who have been less impressive so far but I’m curious to see are Gerald Green (he was a team-best +6 last night in Indiana), Rajon Rondo and Ryan Gomes.

By the way, the other Celtic playing well of late is Delonte West, who is averaging 17.7 points per game on 54.5% (eFG%) shooing in his last seven games.

Boston, Where No One Knows My Name. Actually, I think everyone in Boston still knows the Lakers name, and still thinks of them as THE rival.

I should add though that the team basketball the Lakers are playing, the more mature game Kobe Bryant has displayed, is winning over some converts.

Check out what Henry at True Hoop was saying yesterday:

No, the only time I really feel uncomfortable about being a sports fan is when I run across a Laker fan. When I put my basketball fan hat on, I have always just hated the Lakers. They have been the architects of my pain. They have also always seemed to just have it easy. All those stars sprinkled all over the court, the sidelines, and the entire stadium for that matter.

When a casual basketball fan seems be becoming a Laker fan, especially if they are not even from L.A., I have to fight the knee-jerk urge to consider that person ignorant….

But, well, as I pointed out in the headline (when am I ever going to get to the point here?) something has been happening. Slowly, over the last few months, the Lakers have become a team I kind of find myself pulling for.

There, I said it….

And here’s why: they’re defying expectations through personal growth. If Kobe Bryant had always played like this, we’d all like him a lot. He is wiser, and more generous than ever, and it’s often beautiful. More importantly, gone are the pouty halves of games when he refuses to take a shot.

He’s also attempting to show that he can carry a good team solo. Jury is still out on that, and the struggle is the fun part to watch.

Lamar Odom is likable. Even if you don’t see it that way, you have to agree he’s very tough to hate after the tragedy of his infant dying last summer. Andrew Bynum is giving much where not much was expected. Jordan Farmar was clearly a good pick, although many doubted him. And guys like Smush Parker, Brian Cook, and Sasha Vujajic? They have to work their asses off to get the result the team needs. When they do? My hat’s off to them.

This post was done with all apologies to Augustana

Kurt

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43 responses to I Think I’m Going To Boston

  1. I don’t mean to bash on our own guys, but lets just call this “constructive criticism”. Vlad was KILLING me last night. Don’t let the 18 and 9 fool you, he was HORRIBLE. The first quarter alone, he lost the ball off his hands like 2 or 3 times, got swatted by Curry going to the whole, and worst of all… was guarding Drew’s man under the basket (along with Drew), leaving his own man Frye wide open… Frye drove to the basket with everybody trying to figure out who was supposed to be guarding him and that was the 2nd foul on Drew. Drew should thank Vlad personally for that one. Also, he hit that 3 in the last minute to put us down by 2 and started dancing. Even Joel Meyers had to tell him to stop celebrating… we’re down by 2 still!

    Then we have Smush. Started out fine (if you consider making mad shots fine) and totally killed us in the 4th. Farmar was working his ass off, as demonstrated by the play where Marbury dribbled off his foot only to see Farmar dive from one sideline to the other to get the loose ball and call timeout. A second later, Smush comes in, jacks up a quick ugly shot that was a brick, next posession he dribbles off himself out of bounds, and lets Crawford get going and hit some clutch shots late in the game.

    Last night was very difficult to watch, I know we’re better than this. If everybody on our team played with the heart and hustle of Farmar, Mo Evans, Turiaf, Drew, and Lamar, we would be deadly. I think Phil should start Mo and Jordan over Smush and Vlad for like 1 or 2 games just to send them the message.

  2. Another side note from last night… whos the ugliest player on the Knicks? Eddy Curry? Malik Rose? Jefferies? Crawford? those guys were tough to look at for 48 minutes. Curry is crazy, did you guys see how mad he got in the 3rd quarter when he though he was fouled and he stayed down there to argue and gave up a layup to his man. And when the Lakers started doubling him, Stu pointed out that he was just catching and trying to shoot in one motion before the double got there. Funniest part is that Isaiah Thomas gave up 2 first rounders for that guy!

  3. chris henderson January 31, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    my wife even commented to me that all the new york players looked like gangsters, she assumed it was because they were from new york. (she’s from korea, and they often think our big cities are full of crime)

  4. well, we’re still 9 over .500 and Boozer and Ming are out until after the ASB. Our current goal should remain focused on that 4 seed and home-court in the first-round. A little offensive cohesion and defensive effort against a bad team could be the springboar back to a 3 or 4 game winning streak, hopefully Drew can rebound from last nite’s embarrasing performance against Curry.

  5. I wonder if the NBA will suspend B. Cook for his smack to the face on J. Jefferies like they suspended Kobe? I truely doubt it. I’ve never before seen such a superstar receive so much hate, be it from the ref’s or the league.

  6. Where’s the shout out for http://www.PerkIsABeast.com? By far the coolest Celtic’s blog on the web.

  7. I don’t think Cook will be suspended… his was different. Kobe got blocked and then flailed his arms out in what the NBA called an “unnatural basketball act”. Cook got Jefferies on the follow through of his jump shot.
    If Stu Jackson suspends Cook and calls this an “unnatural basketball act” then we would really have an issue

  8. Curry had been waiting to see Andrew again since he got embarrased by the kid last season. I was kind of expecting that outcome.

  9. Too bad we can’t replace the Smusher with Delonte West. He’s a very good combo guard that would be perfect playing PG in the Lakers system.

  10. Last season, the Lakers coaching staff played Smush many more minutes at point than they’d thought they would. Rambis has talked about this, as well as alluded to the coaching staff thinking Smush was simply gassed in the playoffs. Might this be part of the staff’s thinking with limiting Farmar’s minutes for now? If that’s the case, I’d expect Jordan’s minutes to start a gradual increase heading into playoff time. But probably not in February, maybe March.

  11. Farmar is a solid backup, thats all he’ll be this year. Smush is an avg nba pg, thats all he’ll be this year, to succeed in the playoffs the Lakers cannot depend on consistency from the pg or the c spot, that’s why its imperative Luke come back strong

  12. Oh yea, Kurt, even though Oden or Durant would help the League, anything that helps the Celtics is unaccepatble, and therefore I continue to wish ill will to their franchise

  13. I agree with Kurt: root for the Celtics so that when we play against them it means something. The only thing I’d rather see than the Lakers win a Championship? Seeing them beat Boston in the Finals to do so.

    Anyone else of the belief that we missed Luke just as much, if not moreso, than Kobe in NY?

  14. I agree w/ Bryan that Luke will be missed more than people think. In terms of triangle IQ, I firmly believe he is second only to Kobe in getting Phil’s offense to go. Say what you will about his defense and physical limitations, but I think he’s an important glue guy.

  15. Giving Boston their 13th in a row felt great, especially watching it on NBA Leauge Pass and getting to hear Tommy Heinsohn gauwk and gab about the brilliance of #24. Funniest thing about it, he said that he thinks Gearlad Green can become “a Kobe-like player” one day, I haven’t stopped laughing yet.

  16. Can I just say I hate tape delayed games? Ugh, damn you KCAL for playing games late and damn you ESPN for already saying who won the game!!!!

  17. Also, I add that I wish I shared a similar hatred of the Boston Celtics like most of you do…I figure I am too young to understand why they are my sworn enemy for reasons other than a retarded looking leprechaun being their mascot….it pains me to realize that if I become a father someday my kids will not understand why I hate anything to do with San Antonio (on a side note, Mark Cuban wore a fantastic shirt to a Mavs game in SA that read “I went to the San Antonio River Walk and all I got was a rash.”) or why I continue to call the Sacramento basketball team the Queens. They will also not understand why I keep talking about “The days when middle schoolers didn’t used to play in the NBA” and will call me old when I ramble for hours about how 20 teams in Europe and Asia watered down the league.

  18. The worst part is that people that have league pass outside of L.A. get a chance to see the game live, while people who actually live in L.A. and want to see the game live can’t because it’s blocked out on league pass in favor of KCAL’s tape delay. Get with it KCAL!

  19. Dont forget Portland, I really hate Portland too, oh and the Pistons, yeah the Pistons too

  20. Kevin Durant is playing right now and has 26 and 20

  21. Thanks for giving the C’s fans some love. We are having a tough season, but the Garden has been having consistently good attendance and most of us really like our young players. We are officially on Oden watch.

    As a side note, Gerald Green did not lead the C’s in plus/minus for the Indy game – Rajon Rondo did with a plus 9. No surprise there as he leads the team in that category on the season.

    Beat L.A…….someday :)

  22. Masterclass by kobe on the three shooting. If he could go 7/9 from downtown everygame, well he would be shooting 78%.

    I’m glad we were actually able to beat a team that is intentionally tanking the season.

  23. Man oh man. That game was just what the doctor ordered.

  24. Sacramento wasn’t much of a rival, because they never beat the Lakers. In the Phil Jackson era the Spurs and Lakers have met four times in the playoffs with the Lakers winning three of the four (and if Robert Horry’s 2003 game five three didn’t toilet bowl out, they would have won all four), so I don’t know how they are much of a rival either. The Celtics on the other hand beat the Lakers franchise for years! All through the 60s and then in the 84 finals. But we made up for it by beating them in 85 and 87. So that was actually a bitter rivalry. Plus how can you have a rivalry with Tim Duncan?

  25. Well, I do respect the Celtics and do wish to see them as the best in the Eastern Conference, so that we can beat them in the Finals one day… It might take some time, but both teams will meet again…

    However, there are two teams that I really hate and I don’t wish to see them get strong: Portland and Detroit. Cheers kwame a.

    About the lakers current play… I can’t type anything else if Smush keeps playing… Is Phil trying to show Farmar what NOT TO DO when the playoffs come? If that’s the case (planning on using Farmar then) then I’m cool. Otherwise I’m just lost.

  26. Latley my biggest problem with Smush is that he takes these quick shots where nobody else touches the ball on the possession.

  27. I agree with Smush, his ego/mentality gets in the way and he wants to just take over for a series or two, and the offense be damned. If you’re Kobe you can get away with that some, but Smush is no Kobe.

    And, I like Durant, but I still take Oden first.

  28. You really think you’re coming to Boston?

    Please come to Boston
    For the springtime
    I’m stayin’ here with some friends
    And they’ve got lots of room
    You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
    By a cafe where I hope to be workin’ soon

  29. That may be the first time anyone’s quoted Kenny Chesney on this site.

    I wish I were going to Boston, it’s one of my favorite cities. My wife lived there for a few years so she has friends in the area and knows some great bars and haunts.

    Of course, Boston is much better in the spring and fall than the dead of winter.

  30. As long as we’re getting Boston nostalgic. I used to love going to Wally’s on Mass Ave. The music was usually good, but some nights it was great. Being out here in LA, I even miss the T some times.

    In college, they got rid of the Boston Gardens. One of my college professors went down and bought one of the seat sets. I think there were three linked together. He brought them into class for no reason other than to show them off. Pretty funny.

  31. I’m here in Boston now, my pipes burst last week, our heater is broke and my California blood is freezing, luckily I’ll be done with this place in 1.5 years.

  32. Great line from JE Skeets on NBA fanhouse about the Celtics:

    The Celtics have lost 13 in a row. Rumor has it that Coach Rivers will now start drawing plays for Durant in the huddle.

    By the way, I have an off-Laker topic post I want to get up, but work is a bear and I didn’t get a lunch to finish it. Later tonight, hopefully.

  33. I sort of feel similarly about the Celtics. I also feel they have one of the most tactically ignorant head coaches. Doc seems like a good guy and cool, but he has so much talent and had the same with the Magic and he has so much with the Celtics and it seems to be squandered. Perhaps he’s getting it now….but I also feel that, like with the Cowboys in the NFL and the Dodgers in baseball, sports is better, and the NBA in particular, when the Celtics are at least competent. The memories of the ’80s matchups with the Celts are just too strong for me to gain any schadenfreude from their poor competitiveness now.

  34. Favorite Tommy heinsohn quote from the ’80’s rivalry:

    “Byron Scott is a great guard, but he’s no Danny Ainge!”

  35. I just wanted to reflect on my “constructive criticism” from the top of these comments. I wanted to be the first one to say that I thought Smush did much better against Boston. I thought his shots were within the offense as opposed to those bricks he was throwing up against the Knicks. See Smush, if you move the ball around in the offense, it will make its way back to you for a better shot. Vlad as well, he looked like he was playing more in the system. Good job guys!
    We looked like a totally different team than against the Knicks. Goes to show everyone how important Kobe is to us. When he doesn’t play, we’re worse than the Knicks. But when he does play, just as long as hes on the floor, everybody else has a TON more confidence for some reason.
    So let me do my best impression of the Celtic fans last night by saying, “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!

  36. Hey guys, all star reserves will be announced today. Do you guys think Lamar has any chance now that Boozer is out? Or did the injury totally kill his chances? If he had played all season, theres no doubt in my mind that he should be there.

  37. Skigi —
    to your comment
    “When [ Kobe ] does play…,
    everybody else has a TON more confidence
    for some reason.”

    What a change from even a year ago
    when pundits were posing the question
    of whether rookies would be intimidated by Kobe
    or young vets like Lamar would be too deferential.

    Now it seems that the squad, esp. the rookies
    who have not developed for themselves the level
    of motivation and mental edge that Kobe has
    need him on the floor to be able to access their own
    energy, which makes sense.
    Kobe draws from them perfomances that Lamar
    could not in the Knicks game, though they only
    fell short a few points, everybody was woozy
    on the free throws, and they played the ‘Bockers even
    instead of putting them away.

    Lately the talk has been about “elite teams” and
    where the Lakers were relative to the elite–
    Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio Slurs, etc.

    One thing that will lift the team to that next level
    is for the players like Radmanovic and Parker and Cook
    who don’t have that freshman motivation
    to draw upon their own aggressiveness
    rather than circle the wagons looking for the next guy
    to “step up.” ( I hate that phrase )

    Smush shone a couple of weeks ago off of Kobe’s
    ability to open up opportunities for him,
    and then for a while he got his own.
    He starts to come down off that vibe when the team
    takes a couple of losses and that’s just the time
    when he should sharpen his focus and back up
    off the funk.

    Brian Cook last season started to firm up his physique
    and it helped his performance so much.
    Now his definition looks like “Mr. Before”
    and he ( and others ) are falling back on the three-pointer
    to get fired up as well as to catch up on the score.

    Sasha may whine, but he doesn’t quit.
    Farmar may get beat, but he’ll come back.
    Evans may brick a shot, but he can block another.
    That’s where the confidence can be found and built upon.
    Kobe can only tell ‘em and show them so many times.

    I’ve no desire to revisit Devean George circa 2005
    multiplied by three.

  38. 36. Odom has two problems, the injury is one. The other is that he is a forward in the Western Conference, So are Duncan, KG, McGrady, Melo, Boozer, Brand and others. I’ve said before, you could make a good All Star game pitting the forwards in the West against the rest of the league.

  39. Did anyone see Lebron’s hit on Wade? Lebron SHOULD get a 1 game suspension based on the precedence Kobe’s hit on Ginobilli has set.

  40. As if on cue, LeBron provides an opportunity to get an answer to the question: “what if it were LeBron or Wade hitting someone in the face?”

    Ginobili then one-ups LBJ by kicking Amare in the Stoudemire (if you know what I mean) on a layup attempt, in what could easily be described as an “unnatural” move.

    The league has really painted itself into a corner on this one. When even the Spurs are saying that Kobe shouldn’t have been suspended, you have to wonder what Stu Jackson was thinking.

    Unfortunately, even if Kobe gets the moral (and financial) victory of winning his appeal, the Lakers can never get the potential _basketball_ victory against the Knicks back.

  41. Did you see those 19 points by Smush in the score sheet? How much “pointgarding” did you see him play?

    As I’ve watched the Smusher slide further and further toward the corner on offense, and separate from his man higher and higher up on offense, I’ve come to see his role as a Laker in a new light. In offense he’s a “dishoff” (that’s a new technical term), and on defense, he’s a “sneaker.”

    As a dishoff, he needs to score whenever the defenders double a penetrating Kobe–or switch on Lamar. Sometimes he shoots; sometimes he drives; and sometimes he throws the ball away just for fun.

    Since he is a scorer on offense, he shouldn’t be expected to play defense. But if the other Laker defenders “jump out ,” the Smusher can sometimes come from behind and steal the ball or block a shot–or watch the opponents score. When they score, it is up to him to get those points back–especially since the guy who scored (or set up a score) was probably Smush’s man.

    Smush often performs guardly duty and dribbles the ball downcourt. Even if Smush bricks a 3 or is stuffed when he drives one on three, his manhood is restored. That’s way more important than a win anyway, isn’t it?

  42. Smush’s new nickname is NBA Street…

  43. Yes, LeBron must be suspended for a game. If not, I’m am going marching to NYC to the NBA offices. It’s sickening that the media is not even talking about this either. I think Lebron’s hit was even more of a threat (granted Wade ducked a bit) than Kobe’s because of the hit to the throat/jaw. How sad is it that we have to sit here and talk about any of this when actions like that happen when you play a contact sport. But you’re right, the NBA asked for this by setting the Kobe precedent.

    Also, D-Wade took 24 free throws yesterday. This guy is a great player who attacks as well as anyone i have ever seen, but 24 free throws just is an insane number to throw out there. Especially when he had 12 TO’s.