It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the breakout party for the vaunted triangle offense that Lakers fans have been waiting for. The brand of basketball played by both teams in game 3 was an insult to eyes and ears everywhere. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes, but this was no better than watching the Spurs and Pistons duke it out, that’s for sure.
The consequences of this game are difficult to predict. The Lakers proved that for one game, at least, they won’t throw up the white flag without a little snarling of their own. Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Ronny Turiaf, and Kobe Bryant refused to be intimidated by individual Celtic opponents tonight. While they aren’t anywhere near the driver’s seat, the Lakers got a little bit of their swagger back. More than that, it’s anyone’s guess. Will that same energy and desperation be on display Thursday at 11th and Fig in downtown Los Angeles? That question is going to hang in the air for the next 43 hours like smoke in a 1960s bowling alley.
From the starting bell, the Lakers showed a completely different willingness to take the ball to the hoop and punish the Celtics for camping out in the paint. Many possessions Kobe and Lamar had a thought bubble over their head that said, “Oh, you better bring more than three green jerseys to stop this drive or I’m simply going to find a way to overpower you.” While Boston managed to turn back 8 Lakers shots, this major adjustment in attitude affected the way the team played the rest of the game—both offensively and defensively. With their backs against the wall, the Lakers didn’t rope a dope, they came out swinging. There was no butterfly, only the bee. And for one game, the Celtics got stung by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
What I saw:
-Kobe took it to the rack with increased efficiency and his tough midrange jumper over the defender was falling. This made a huge difference.
-The Lakers were much more adamant about running the offense through Pau, but he wasn’t that much aggressive one on one. His aggression came on the offensive glass in the 4th quarter, playing energetic defense, and going after rebounds. Reminded me of his bounceback game against the Spurs.
-The Lakers, especially Kobe, crashed the boards and helped limit second chance opportunities. Differential was 45-44 Boston.
-The Lakers missed way too many free throws. (21-34, 62% is quite Shaq-like)
-Sasha Vujacic was playing very confident basketball. It always amazes how much difference a change of venue can make. He finished (7-10, 3-5 from 3pt land) with 20 points.
-Vujacic, Walton, and Farmar had a nice stretch together. All of them posted good +/- numbers.
-Kevin Garnett (6-21) and Paul Pierce (2-14) both had horrendous shooting nights. Don’t expect a repeat of that performance by either man the rest of the way.
What did you see?