Around the World (Wide Web): Needing More Than Just Kobe

Phillip Barnett —  June 14, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant puts up a shot as he is double-teamed by Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) and Kendrick Perkins (42) in the third quarter during Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

THE BLOGS

From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: There’s nothing particularly explosive about Paul Pierce’s offensive game. He’s more resourceful than dynamic, more craftsman than artist, a scorer who relies on space more than velocity. In Game 5 on Sunday night, Pierce applied his trade with precision.  In the first half, he relied on a steady diet of high screens to draw mismatches against the Lakers’ big men, then launch his step-back jumper. In the second half, Pierce found opportunities in isolation against Ron Artest.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Walking into the locker room after a crucial Game 5 loss, Kobe Bryant could be heard going on an expletive-filled tirade at his team. His comment later to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski was telling. “We’ve regressed since Game 1,” Bryant confessed to Yahoo! Sports. “Our defense belongs on milk cartons in the last two games.” A few minutes after Bryant’s venting to his team, Phil Jackson was in front of the media with a different demeanor. He was trying to be positive.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: If you’re a Laker, you have but one request for the flight back to Los Angeles tomorrow morning: a seat other than the one next to Kobe Bryant. You don’t want to sit by him, you don’t want to look at him, you frankly shouldn’t be breathing the same air. Just find yourself a spot in the luggage hold, and stay out of his sight. The Mamba’s anger has been on a low simmer all playoffs long, and after tonight’s calamity, an 86 to 92 Game Five loss to the Boston Celtics, we can officially put Kobe on core-meltdown alert. He did what he could to keep the Lakers alive in this one, ripping off 38 points, but from his supporting cast exactly no one came even close to matching his effort or production. Brink, meet the Lakers. Lakers, brink.

From Brian Kamenetzki, Land O’ Lakers: Kobe Bryant is a tough man to keep down. Even in 2008, when Boston made his task so difficult even Sisyphus himself would have looked at him and thought, “Man, that’s hard,” Bryant still went off for a 36 point, 12-for-20 effort in Game 3. Through four games of this year’s Finals, Bryant has hardly been invisible, but also not the otherworldly figure we saw through the first three rounds of the postseason. Coming out of the half in Game 5, with his team down six, he was apparently ready for his closeup.

From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: The Lakers battled the Celtics throughout a Game 5 in Boston that defined the fight-for-every-inch cliche, but couldn’t make enough shots, or get enough stops, to prevent a 92-86 loss that sent the Purple and Gold back to Los Angeles down 3-2 in the NBA Finals.L.A. managed to stay within six points at the half despite being out shot by 33 percent (66 to 33), but things began to get away in the third even as Kobe Bryant went on a phenomenal individual run to score his team’s first 19 points.

From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: All season long, while the offense went up and down, the defense stayed about the same. Consistently great defense, mind you. The Los Angeles Lakers regressed significantly on the offensive end in 2009-10, falling to 11th in the NBA in offensive efficiency after coming in third the year before, but the team’s defense stayed at just about a top three clip all season until a mini-swoon to end the regular season dropped them from fourth, up from sixth last year. Though it wasn’t pointed out as much, this was their bedrock. The thing to rely on when the ball movement stopped, and even Kobe Bryant couldn’t keep things close.

THE PAPERS

From Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: Maybe the Lakers rally at home to win this NBA championship, maybe not. Either way, there will come a time next spring when they’re sitting in a foreign locker room and their stomachs are churning a bit with the pressure of having to win a pivotal road playoff game. And at that moment, Kobe Bryant can rightly turn to his shaggy-headed Lakers co-star and say: “You owe me something, Spaniard. Now show me something.”

From Jeff Miller, Orange County Register: In their biggest game yet, they sure didn’t look like defending NBA champions. Or, more significantly, the NBA’s next champions. The Lakers instead looked like a team sputtering on fumes – out of position on some plays, out of gas on others. It was strange, disarming and disappointing. The Lakers who aren’t Kobe Bryant picked an unfortunate time to no-show, losing Sunday, 92-86, and now a defeat away from finishing No. 2 behind the annoying Celtics yet again.

From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Paul Pierce raised his right index finger and yelled out “One more, baby!” as he walked off the court, surrounded by a mob of TV cameras as adoring Boston Celtics fans cheered wildly. No, this wasn’t the way the Lakers wanted to return to Los Angeles, overpowered and outmuscled by a more physical team in a 92-86 loss in Game 5 that had them standing near the cliff of elimination in the NBA Finals. The game was more of a gap than the scoreboard offered, the Lakers never leading after 37-36 and nobody other than Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol scoring in double figures for them, the latter barely doing it with an underwhelming 12-point effort.

From Vincent Bonsignore, Los Angeles Daily News: By the time Kobe Bryant reached the podium in the interview room Sunday at TD Garden, the Lakers’ 92-86 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals was already a distant memory to him. “I’ve forgotten all about it,” he insisted. The Lakers returning home down three games to two to the Celtics hardly seemed a concern, the world champions needing to win the next two games to claim this series and their second title in row mere details. The entire city of Los Angeles might be going crazy with worry, anxiously bracing for the worst as the Lakers return home to try and stave off the hated Celtics. But Bryant seemed cool, calm and collected, not even a hint of concern or apprehension.

THE MAJORS

From Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Every time Boston coach Doc Rivers talked about it — and usually he was the one raising the topic, early and often over the past week and a half — he did so with an odd sense of calm. Eventually, Rivers would remind almost anyone who would listen, Kobe Bryant was going to hang “a big number” on his team in a 2010 NBA Finals game. And the Celtics would have to try to win in spite of it. It sounded less like a promise or a challenge to his players, frankly, and more like the way one faces other inevitable, unenviable and grim tasks in life. Such as tax audits, trips to the periodontist or home videos of the neighbors’ vacation to Chattanooga. And then it happened: the Black Mamba struck.

From J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: he summation of the Lakers’ Game 5 in Boston came from the postgame news conference moderator, who announced that Phil Jackson would speak first, then Doc Rivers, a yet-to-be-determined number of Celtics players, and finally: “It looks like L.A. will only be Kobe in here.” It made perfect sense, since it was only Kobe out there on the court. At one point Kobe Bryant had scored half of the Lakers’ points: 29 of 58. He finished with 38 in the Lakers’ 92-86 loss. Bryant also led them with four assists and had the team’s lone blocked shot. No other Laker did anything of value. Andrew Bynum played more than 31 minutes and reported no issues with his injured right knee, but grabbed only one rebound. Ron Artest couldn’t keep Paul Pierce from unleashing a 27-point night, while Artest missed seven of his nine field goal attempts and two free throws with 43.3 seconds remaining that extinguished the Lakers’ last hope for victory. The Celtics have made him the primary outlet for when Bryant is doubled, and Artest hasn’t made them pay consistently.

From Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: On a night when the Boston Celtics looked to be 20 points better — heck, maybe even more — than the Los Angeles Lakers, the lead was down to a precarious five points with 39 seconds left when the signature play of Game 5 of the NBA Finals unfolded. Kevin Garnett was inbounding from the sideline in the backcourt, there were 20 seconds left on the shot clock, and the Lakers were pressing man-to-man all over the court as Garnett was handed the ball. Suddenly, Paul Pierce sprinted from the foul line closest to Garnett and headed for the frontcourt, and Garnett fired a high-arching lead pass toward where Pierce was heading. Pierce and Derek Fisher jumped simultaneously, and the taller of the two caught the ball. Pierce quickly spun toward the Celtics’ basket as he was falling out of bounds, rifling a bullet pass toward Rajon Rondo as he made a beeline to the basket.

Phillip Barnett

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14 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Needing More Than Just Kobe

  1. Gasol is a big Baby and the Celtics “Big Baby” is a Man!

    Ron Artest cant shoot to save his life!!

    Rondo is a better rebounder than our whole team, someone please box out!!

  2. Phil had wrong strategy for this Lakers team, they tried to win game 4 in Boston. In game 5, they looked tired, Gasol can’t leap high to dunk the ball. Koobe tried to win the ball by himself, it did not work.

    Another wrong move of Phil, before the playoffs start, he picked Powell over Menga for whatever reason, but Phil has to stick with Powell. The C’s have 4 big guys, Garnett, Perkins,Wallace, Davis, they can rotate, rest. Lakers only have Gasol,Bynum,Odom, that’s not enough. Boston used Garnett, Wallace to beat up on Gasol, and Kobe can’t win by himself.

    Odom has to play the best game of his life in game 6, 7. If Odom scores 12, 13 points, it’s not enough. Odom has to score 19, 20 points. Lakers coach has to give Odom a specific plan, don’t tell him, you go out there and do the best you can.

  3. Ouch. From Hollinger’s PER Diem:

    “The fact is Bryant has been by far the most productive player, and the only reason the Celtics are ahead is because five of the next six best players (the four above and supersub Glen Davis) have been wearing green. If series MVP voters are using their heads and not their hearts, Bryant is an obvious pick even with his team trailing.

    There’s an irony here, of course. I mentioned above that only one player has won Finals MVP in a losing effort; it was Bryant’s idol and mentor, former Lakers star Jerry West. Wait, there’s more. It came in the 1969 Finals … against the Celtics … against a veteran Boston team, in fact, that had won only 48 games and was seeded just fourth in the Eastern Conference at the start of the playoffs. L.A. ended up losing Game 7 at home despite 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists from West.”

    Mental toughness. That’s the key intangible that’s giving the greenshirts the edge in this series. Our offense is terrible, everything is rushed and everyone except for #24 is scared and/or intimidated. Where is all the hunger for revenge and all that tough talk from LO and Pau about how they can’t wait for a shot at redemption? Where is Ron safe-guarding #24 and the rest of our players, as he ensured in 2008 that would never happen again? Here’s to hoping some home-cooking will wake us up.

  4. Last night’s game was infuriating to watch. Facing elimination is scary. And the media is riding its predictable pendulum swing toward Boston.

    However…

    The Lakers are coming home from an incredibly hostile arena to the Staples Center, where they have been nearly unbeatable in the last two playoffs. The role players will be better at home. The aging Celtics have to fly and play with one day off again, which seemed to hurt them in game three. Kobe finally broke free offensively in game 5; does anyone doubt he will be less effective in an elimination game 6 at home? As a rule, Gasol does not play two bad games in a row.

    One win changes everything. I still like our chances.

  5. I now understand why Phil had to take the positive approach – because Kobe definitely railed on every player in that locker room last night.
    To win this series Kobe is going to have to trust and instill confidence in his guys. The defense in both games 4 and 5 (i dont care about the shooting % in game four, they were missing wide open shots), had been subpar and our rotations have been overall bad.
    We also aren’t scoring off forced turnovers, which suggests that the Lakers are expending so much energy to get back on D in transition that they can’t run on offense.
    Somebody is going to step up and be a huge energy guy the next game – cuz we are home and that is how it is going to be.

    Also, with the cross country flight, Gasol has got to attack KG/Sheed off the dribble and into the lane. I actually think Perkins isn’t a good off the dribble defender either (much better at post up position. Pau needs to be the offensive and defensive initiator for the first half tomorrow. It can’t be Kobe. It is leaving him gassed by the 4th, and the Lakers are unable to turn elsewhere.

    Btw, Ray allen has missed 18 straight 3 pointers (after making 8/11), so maybe the Lakers are overhelping a little bit on him. I am not saying that adjustment didn’t work, but they are using Ray as a decoy (as they had done all postseason), when if they run their offense through him he become much less effective on D and they become much more stagnant. Make the Celtics work for their points lakers, and don’t go for a knockout in the first five minutes. Continue to jab, jab, jab away, cuz that is how playoff games are won.

  6. I freaking hate it but Pierce said it: At this point, players make plays and that’s the difference.

    The Lakers are just going to have to come back and play harder than the Celtics. If this team would just leave it all on the floor and lose, it would be easier than this.

    Here’s hoping that desperation lasts for at least 96 minutes.

  7. The MVP will not be given to a player on the 2nd place team ever again. Imagine the outrage and cries of favoritism.

  8. I sincerely hope the Lakers watch the closing game of 2008 and remember what it felt like to lose at BOSTON. Can you even begin to imagine how steamed Kobe will be to see the Celts celebrating in LA, desecrating the Staples Center in front of the cloud of LA Witnesses (retired jerseys of Wilt, et. al., not even including the alive company of Kareem ,Worthy, and Mark Madsen).

    Kobe has to tread a fine line with his teammates. No one questions his resolve and determination, but there is a way to communicate that without devestating the fragile psyche of certain Lakers players. I really hope that the players are not beginning the process of justifying their current position, i.e., stroking their championship ring from 2009. They are still on the cusp of being two-time champs, so all is not lost til we lose that final game.

    I also agree that we need to get one more “big” involved in the game. Anyone who’s every played organized ball knows the importance of having some fresh legs off the bench. Celts bigs are really wearing our thin PFs out. And how about this, (this is a new low for me), why not send DJ to “instigate” some stuff with Perkins and/or Rasheed? ;-)

  9. Something I’ve forgot to add to my posts in the other thread; not too terribly important but…

    I’ve seen lots of posters complaining about the refs, mentioning Allen’s supposed 24 second violation at the end, but not a single poster (to the best of my noticing) say that the ball in fact *clearly* DID hit the rim. I just watched it again on YouTube, and the angle from about 10ft up looking directly toward the basket *clearly* shows ball hitting rim.

    Anyway…. it doesn’t matter, really. Lakers were fortunate to even be close at that point.

    I’m nervous about game 6, but also *extremely* curious as to how the team plays, and with how much effort.

  10. As I said during the Phoenix series, the Lakers were having problems playing that soft zone so how in the world were they going to play against a Celtics zone?

    Prior to the last game against Phoenix, I remember Bynum gleefully saying that the Lakers had been concentrating on playing Boston. That they’d been watching Boston film once Boston knocked Cleveland out of the playoffs. Be Careful What You Ask For!

    The Lakers season has come down to one game, 1, uno! This year the Lakers have responded positively to each must win game, albeit they have not faced the likes of a Celtic team. So, I expect them to meet this challenge positively, also.

    LO was smiling entirely too much in his post game interview, that was very disconcerting to me.

    One thing I’d like to point out about D J Mbenga. Once the Lakers knew that they were playing Boston and Bynum had a meniscus tear in his knee, then why didn’t Phil mandate that Mbenga get ready. Why didn’t an assistant get Mbenga and make him run laps, shoot and jump in order to be game ready. And how did Mbenga get so out of shape when he last played in the Oklahoma series and had the concussion. It just appears to be some really weird things going on over there on that sideline. Powell got playing time and even started a few games, yet he can’t be trusted to play against Boston? Then they activate Morrison who has been woefully effective as a Laker this year. Very perplexing, indeed!

    The Triangle is best suited to a superstar, a good 14-17 foot jump shooter, a rebounding phenom and a dead eye three point shooter. Kobe is the superstar and no one else fits the other three roles.

    To salvage this season the Lakers must play loose but aggressive in game 6. If they can play aggressively under control against Boston, and get a contribution from everyone on that bench, then the Lakers should win game 6 to force a game 7 in which the odds are that the Lakers could win a hard fought game 7 for the championship.

    No one thought that a back-to-back championship would be easy, it looked doubtful that the Lakers even had what it would take to make it to the finals. Yet, the Lakers are still playing!

    This Lakers team is writing their own version of the Boston rivalry. The past is the past, so just go out there on Tuesday with the mindset, “Not in my house!”

  11. I too am really down after that loss. But now I feel better that the gambling world is still picking our team to beat the C’s and remain champs. Lakers are -130 to take the series if you were to bet today with Bodog.

    These guys are hardly wrong. Here’s to seeing these annoying Celtics go home after a game 7 loss in our building. There is no way our boys shoot 40% and the C’s 50% for the game on our home floor.

  12. Just have to dig deep and get it our all. I stull believe that we have more talent on our roster than their’s, but not my much.

    Have to believe in the system, cut hard to the basket and secure the rebounds!

    Is it Tuesday yet?

  13. Listen, the Lakers need to STEP UP, but Kobe NEEDS to have that glare. In fact, here is the pregame speech that Kobe needs to deliver: http://bit.ly/armyhd