Too little too late….
I saw this written in the comments last night and thought it summed up one aspect of the game quite well. After trailing by over 20 points in the 4th quarter, the Lakers made a furious comeback and cut the deficit to TWO points with about a minute to play. Mixing in some pretty good defense with some pretty spotty execution by the Celtics (they really were playing to maintain the lead, not playing to win the game), and adding in some timely shooting from Kobe, Farmar, Sasha, Fisher, and RadMan, the Lakers went from getting blown out and fans of both sides wondering if this was the “Memorial Day Massacre” part 2, to thinking that we would come all the way back and win the game. But, down by two and needing one stop to get the ball back with the chance to tie, the Lakers could not avoid what had plagued them the entire evening when they reached in on a Paul Pierce drive, fouling him, and letting him clinch a 2-0 lead in the fight for a world championship when he sank his two free throws. That leads us to…
That was the free throw disparity in last night’s contest. The Lakers could not contain the Celtics penetration by guards or big men. The Lakers reached. The Lakers pushed. The Lakers grabbed. They did not take charges when they had the chance to. And the parade to the FT line by the Celtics continued. And at the same time, the Lakers complained. You see, the Lakers thought they were getting fouled too. Phil Jackson would say in his post game press conference that “I think my players got fouled. I have no question about the fact that my players got fouled but didn’t get to the line.” The fans thought the same way. We saw Lakers players get hit on shots in the paint but no whistle was blown. We saw Gasol get hit on an alley oop. We saw Kobe get grabbed when he went to the basket. We saw Lamar get bodied when he was trying to finish in the lane. Were we just seeing the game through gold-shaded lenses? Was Boston that much more aggressive that they would earn that many more trips to the foul line than the Lakers? Was Boston’s defense so good that what we thought was a foul was really just an aggressive type of defense that we hadn’t seen before, one part Jazz one part Spurs? It’s tough to say where the truth lies. On the one hand, I don’t think one Lakers fan is upset at the number of foul shots Boston took. The Lakers were fouling. As I mentioned earlier, they reached in on drives, they held cutters, and they hacked at the rim in an attempt to deter the Celtics from finishing inside. On the other hand, there is the question of “if a foul is a foul, then what happened on our end?” And for that I don’t have a good answer. I will not mention anything implying a “C” word or start to bash the refs. And I won’t rehash the numerous posts citing very specific grievances. As far as I know, the refs did their jobs the best way that they could and they called the fouls they saw and didn’t call the ones they didn’t. I’m not there when they review the game tape and I’m not there to ask them questions about their job. Besides, we can only worry about what is controllable. The refs are not one of those things. What the team can control is its effort, it’s penchant for reaching in, and it’s execution on offense. Which leads us to…
Game 3. Some quick thoughts, bullet style:
*Kobe found some of his lost efficiency in Game 2. He scored 30 points on 23 shots. He also had eight assists. He got the pick and roll going with Gasol (and Turiaf) and was able to make shots that he has missed all year against the Celtics. He was effective stretching out the Boston D on the P&R and then finding a lane to either get off his own shot or create one for a teammate. Most of the 4th quarter comeback was fueled by Kobe just abandoning the Triangle and going into attack mode. I don’t know if the Lakers can win a game if he uses this tactic for an entire game. But it was nice to see that he can hurt this team in this manner, and I expect to see more *freelancing* from him in game 3, especially in early offense when the Celtics defense is not set.
*In game 2 we held our own of the glass. out rebounded the Lakers 37-36 but that is much better than the 13 rebound advantage they had in game 1. In game 3, look for the Lakers to try and continue this trend and use their better rebounding to push the pace and try to get more good looks in early offense. was not the best defense in the league for nothing…when they get in the half-court and are set, they are extremely difficult to score on. So, the Lakers need to get out and run more and continue to attack the Boston defense with good shots, crisp ball movement, and good decision making. When the Lakers do face Boston’s half court defense, they need to execute the offense well, but also not be afraid to break the offense some to go to plays that are working. Throughout the series the Celtics have had some trouble with the P&R when Kobe has the ball. Expect to see more of this in game 3, with Kobe looking to probe the defense and get a shot he is comfortable taking and making while also looking to set up his teammates. He looked much more comfortable in the latter stages of game 2 and we can only hope that he has finally started to figure out how he can attack the Celtics defense.BostonBoston
*We need the bench to get back to the level of production that made them the “bench mob”. So far in this series, the bench players that have made the biggest difference are PJ Brown and Leon Powe (and I know I haven’t mentioned this yet, but Powe was a monster in game 2. I know that he got to the line a ton and some of that could be seen as questionable, but he was in attack mode the entire game. He played strong inside, went after the ball extremely hard, and never stopped working. He is a very good young player in that Paul Milsap/Jason Maxiel mold, and he has made a huge impact this series). We need our bench guys to step up and play the way that they are capable of. I’m encouraged, though, by them hitting some shots in the 4th quarter during the comeback. Farmar and Sasha in particular looked good down the stretch and we can only hope that that carries over into the next game. We all know that role players play better at home, so here’s hoping that trend continues.
For more insight on game 2 and what the Lakers need to do in game 3, please stop by and read KD’s take over at Ball Don’t Lie. He sums up the game quite nicely and is his usual unbiased self.