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2008-2009’s first nomuskles powered live blog is here!

Am I the only one surprised at how well Odom has tolerated his move to the bench?

1st Quarter

Annoying detail of no importance whatsover. The Lakers and Clippers have changed from Porter brand stanchions to Spalding brand stanchions. The Mavs have changed to Spalding this year as well. Is there a spalding conspiracy?

11:18 – Bynum shows what the Lakers were missing last year with his block on Jason Terry. Terry thought he had a clear lane to the basket and Bynum erased his attempt.

10:47 – J Kidd dusts of his jump shot over Bynum’s arm.

10:02 – Dirk is caught not guarding anyone in some zone defense and as a result, Pau gets the offensive rebound. Lakers convert the putback. Lack of concentration on Dirk’s part?

9:45 – Dirk gets called for a moving screen. More lack of concentration. I almost didn’t recognize the German without the Olympic rings shaved in his head.

9:28 – Pau shoots a high rainbow from the free throw line that somehow finds bottom.

9:02 – The Harlem Globetrotters are out there with all these turnovers and slipping on the court.

8:20 – the ref decides Kobe failed to establish his verticality as Dirk runs him over.

7:56 – Gerald Green takes a great three point set shot. Cupcake man seems to be working on his all-around game. Honestly it brings a tear to my eye.

6:41 – Bynum is really getting frustrated by the ugly defense of Dampier. Every time Bynum goes up for a shot under the bucket, Damp is pushing him down low and it’s really starting to get under Bynum’s (sizable amount of) skin.

6:01 – Cupcake man steam rolls fisher and somehow gets the foul call. Dubious.

5:35 – The Spaniard vs. the German. Pau looks a little rushed and throws up a premature jump hook. Brick city.

5:27 – Bynum picks up a phantom foul against Terry. The young buck is upset. He’ll go straight to the bench with his anger.

4:53 – Kobe finishes the break with the left hand and Kidd picks up a boneheaded foul. Three point play.

4:03 – Kobe is trying to teach Cupcake Man a lesson. The lesson would be, “you can’t guard me.” So far, it’s not really working out how Kobe hoped, but he’s going to get his tonight. Kurt’s right. 17-23 Dallas is leading after two Mamba free throws.

Ariza and Odom have checked in. Look for awesomeness to follow.

3:09 – Ariza’s tough defense leads to a bad Stackhouse three but Cupcake man comes up with the long rebound. That young man is trying to get paid. His epidermal integrity has apparently failed him though as his bleeding has caused the need for a stoppage in play.

2:56 – The Mavs are a little confused on offense. Three guys were hanging out by the weak-side elbow. Spacing was, shall we say, lacking. Ariza gets the baseline dribble.

1:59 – Kobe finishes a lob play with a quick layup. Great display of balance and strength by the Mamba.

1:24 – Kidd still drinking the fountain of splash. He gets a three to fall.

1:00 – terry finishes a fast break layup against the long arms of Odom. 31-23 Dallas.

0:46 – Terry gets a deep the corner two.

0:26 – Lakers give up a fast break layup. 35 – 23 Mavs. It might be time to re-examine that commitment to defense we’ve been hearing about.

0:09 – the Giraffe-like Spaniard gets a couple freebies and then Ariza picks Kidd’s pocket at halfcourt for the easy slam. The kid with the mop scampers out of his way with a quickness Chris Mihm would be hard-pressed to match. Ariza = good things happening. Brian Cook, it’s like we never knew ye. 35-26 Mavs up. That’s how the quarter will end.

 

2nd Quarter

Sasha’s sporting a leg sleeve on his southpaw leg.

10:27 – Great pick and roll for Lamar and Bynum results in an acrobatic layup.

10:13 – Bynum started putting down roots in the key and got caught. It gives us a chance to admire Phil Jackson’s flowing mane of silver hair.

10:10 – Stackhouse wants no part of Bynum’s shot blocking activity. He passes it to the German who throws up a contested 15 footer.

9:33 – The German gets bumped by Odom and somehow throws it in. Guys in the L will always amaze. No foul called.

9:01 – Ariza dusts off his “you can’t guard me” lesson for Gerald green. Must have been a pretty decent powerpoint presentation because the jump hook counts for two.

8:52 – Odom will have the chance to shoot two free throws after a great defensive sequence for Sasha who stole the ball and threw it to Farmar in one motion while falling out of bounds. HAHAHA. The coaches are showed on the bench with their knees in their chests. They look like they are sitting in chairs built for kindergarten kids. I’m not even sure what happened to those free throws.

8:15 – Lamar backs The German down in the post and gets the bucket.

7:46 – Lamar tries his lefty scoop and actually misses it. That’s usually money.

7:42 – Ariza draws a charge on Cupcake Man. Green does not like the call but he’ll have to not like the call on the bench for a bit.

7:01 – Diop roofs Farmar’s ill-advised interior shot but Vujacic picks up the rebound and drills the 17 footer.

6:11 – 44-39 Mavs still up. Just a score update. I keep meaning to update the score and falling behind. Timeout happens somewhere around here. This game is wild and entertaining. I’m not sure high level of skill is one of the adjectives I’d use, however.

5:43 – Kobe shoots the long jumper.

5:09 – Awesome. Kobe spots the secondary defender cheating and lasers a pass to Bynum underneath for the slam. Great great great vision.

4:29 – It might be an asset to be 7’0”. This thought occurs to me as Bynum doesn’t jump and still throws the ball downward into the hoop.

4;07 – Jason Terry is the recipient of a beautiful bounce pass backdoor from Kidd. 50-45 Mavs.

3:11 – How is that not a travel? The German practically packed his bags and cleared customs with that hop and skip! And then he holds his nose because the Spaniard decided his face needed a slight rearrangement during the middle of that ridiculous bucket. At the other end, the Big German returns the favor. Apparently the two big marshmallow men are unaware about the rich history of cooperation their two nations have dating back to the time of the Hapsburgs.

2:10 – Kidd busts out the 6-inch windmill layup with contact. He misses the free throw. 48-56 Mavs still up.

1:40 – I’m not sure if that was an alley-oop but it worked out that way. Lamar to Pau is a beautiful thing. 50-56 Mavs leading by a half dozen.

0:58 – Pau shows off some man sauce against Dampier and muscles his way into the middle of the paint for a three point play opportunity. At this point I should also note that the Space Cadet has not contributed much tonight in the way of anything. 56-53 Mavs after the free throw.

0:38 – Derek “point4” Fisher fouls terry on the sideline trap. Doh! With 5 seconds left on the shot clock and such little time left in the half, that’s not the play the coaching staff was looking for. On the plus side, this break in the action allows the writer to admire the circularity of JET’s dome.

0:30 – Kobe tries to go two for one taking some unknown Maverick off the dribble earning a shooting foul. He’ll get two free throws and blow one of them. 58-54 Mavs still up. Lakers should get one more shot.

0:10 – Dirk drills the two with Lamar’s paw in his grill. Kobe can’t convert at the other end. Lakers still trail by a half dozen. 60-54.

 

Halftime

I would donate a lot of blood to see James Worthy do the halftime show in his goggles.

 

3rd Quarter

11:50 – Kobe is guarding Kidd at the point and Kidd decides that Radman is the weak spot. He’s right. Cupcake Man gets up to blow out the candle and finish the alley-oop. Radman asks Pau if that was his man. Pau says, “obvi”

10:37 – The Space Cadet plays hot potato and throws it away. Kobe slumps over.

10:12 – The Lakers turned it over again and Dirk drills the three. 64-55 Mavs leading.

9:52 – The Mavs, not to be outdone, rifle a pass off the stanchion support. Dampier was the intended receiver. Intentional grounding was not called.

9:00 – After finding his athleticism matched by cupcake man, Kobe decides to find a much easier target. Kidd watches Kobe blow by him and has no choice but to grab his jersey.

8:22 – I wish I had voted for Ariza for President.

8:13 – Radman throws up a three pointer that goes about 14 inches too far. Air ball. Definitely a space cadet game.

Kobe is a little bit tired of this. He’s just going to take it to the rim and score. Then jack up a three but this one misses. Then Radman will try his luck and miss his three as well.

6:54 – Joel Myers is begging his producer to find him a thesaurus so he can find synonyms for “ugly.” At least I imagine him doing so. It’s so bad Luke is going to check in for the space cadet. Probably because it’s not second unit time and Phil doesn’t want to waste Ariza’s energy with this lax group.

6:17 – That decision immediately pays off when Luke Walton gets beat off the dribble and his man goes all the way to the bucket which misses but Dampier is left alone to get the putback slam. 61-70 Dallas leads. Tough spot for the son of bill to come in there; you know, against someone who can dribble and run at the same time. Phil has decided to not let the young team hang themselves yet. Time out called.

5:53 – Dallas whips out a tightly packed zone out of the timeout. Luke misses the three. I’m shocked.

4:45 – I [heart] Gasol. He gets a beastly putback slam. I’m just going to pretend the three-chance possession by the Mavs didn’t just happen before that.

4:37 – 63-72 Mavs up. score check.

3:35 – Cupcake man is not going to back down from the mamba. He takes Kobe to his left and hits the nice pull up bank shot. Well played cupcake man. Well played.

3:08 – 65-74 Mavs still holding that nine point lead.

2:55 – Cupcake man’s activity leads to a second chance and Diop is the beneficiary. He earns two free throws and converts one of them. 65-75.

2:19 – Ariza’s mishandle causes a turnover on offense but he hustles at the other end, causing a turnover by cupcake man. He then lays himself out to get the loose ball. Timeout called and Lakers retain possession.  Out of the timeout Sasha has a nice curl screen jumper. 67-75.

1:48 – Jason Kidd hits another shot. He’s definitely hooked up to the rejuvenation machine this year.

1:06 – Bynum grabs a rebound. The Lakers are battling. Lamar is putting up some effort to get the boards. This leads to a bucket. Then Farmar catches Kidd sleeping and gets a layup. Green answers at the other end.

0:03 – Farmar usually gets the green light at the end of the third. But as time winds down he penetrates and kicks to Lamar for a right corner three. Money! Lakers are only down 3. I was watching this and can’t tell you how they got that close.  They got a couple cheap ones and cut the lead down with some intensity. These are the garbage games they’ve got to win. It’s not pretty but if they can pull it out, it counts all the same. 76-79 Mavs.

 

4th Quarter

11:25 – Green puts those boosties to use. He posterizes Lamar on the break. That was sick. It’ll be on sports center. I promise.

10:42 – Sasha takes a quick three from the top of the key and drills it in transition. Stu calls it a bad shot. I’m okay with it.

10:14 – Lamar dribble drive to his right! Oh. But he finishes with his left. Diop’s gotta know that lamar has no right hand. Count the bucket. (sidenote, Stackhouse does not look spry.) Lamar misses. Ariza homes in on the rebound which squirts out to the corner. He Barry Sanders the German into next week and gets a two-handed slam. A huge fist pump while he’s about twelve feet off the ground. Timeout bad guys. 83-81 Lakers take the lead for now. I’m going to get a tattoo on my forehead dedicated to Ariza.

9:39 – The Mavs come out of the timeout with a rushed three pointer as the clock winds down. Cupcake man might want to stick with dunking.  Dirk crushes a photographer. In hockey, you’d say that guy was “rubbed out of the play.” I hope his skull was reinforced with adamantium.

8:46 – Kobe saw Ariza get it done and he can’t be outdone. He gets a one handed putback slam to go.  Cupcake Man was taking notes. That one will probably be on sportscenter as well.

7:57 – the Mavs need to fire the gimpy Stackhou…. I mean, Stackhouse nails a threeball. And then Stack gets a steal and converts the two point layup on the break against Lamar. I hate it when I eat my words.

6:56 – the game is finally starting to come together. Kobe nails a jumper. Lakers up by three. 89-86.

6:34 – redonkulous! Kobe is just a whirling dervish. Fake spin. Fake spin the other way. Rise up over Kidd (nailed to the floor). Cash money. Maybe two other guys in the league would try that shot. 91-86.

6:18 – Fisher hunts down the long rebound and it seems at this moment, the Lakers have the legs and energy to explode towards loose balls and rebounds. That’s going to be the difference; Who has the mental and physical energy to get to the loose balls and secure rebounds?

6:08 – Kobe just leaves Kidd at the three point line. Dirk’s help is late and Kobe gets the finger roll to fall while getting the favorable whistle. Personal foul: German. Highlight play: Mamba. Hypertension: Yours truly. 93-86 Lakers before the and free throw. Kobe converts.

5:53 – Pau plays some Jack Black and Kyle Gass (Tenacious D) which forces the German to throw it to the ref who is standing out of bounds.

5:00 – Jason Kidd doesn’t commit to the quarterback role just yet. He takes it all the way to the bucket without being stopped and draws the foul on LO7. He converts the three point play.

4:46 – Ariza spots a hole. And like Mashall Faulk in his heyday, Trevor knows what to do. Run through it. Two points and the foul. Converts the freebie. 97-89.

3:48 – Terry is fouled on the break. Trevor, who doesn’t quit, ran all the way back to block the shot as the secondary defender, even after the whistle had blown. He won’t get a blocked shot for that, but it’s just as good. He made sure that JET had to shoot two free throws. He makes both.

3:27 – Pau is determined to take it to the bucket. He gets hacked on his first attempt. No call. Gets it back. And in his wild way, he goes for another one. He draws the foul. And Dampier, for his trouble, rejects the Spaniard’s shot with quite a bit of menace. 99-94 after Pau’s free throws. lakers still up.

3:04 – No one touched the ball except Kobe on that possession. And Kobe didn’t go anywhere. Brick.

2:50 – This game is curiously reffed. Lots of phantom foul calls. Damp is the beneficiary this time around. He gets one of his free throws. Lakers up by 2. 99-97.

2:38 – Jump ball after the officials can’t tell what happened.

2:18 – Kobe is smashed on the arms and loses the ball. No call. Strange game folks. Refs are humans too.

1:41 – Is Kobe going to take too long here too? Nope. Ariza gets the pass on the wing. Can’t hit the three.

1:17 – The German pokes away the touchdown pass before it can get to gasol.

1:06 – this game is high on stress. Low on actual scoring in the past 10 minutes. On the bright side of things, the good people of Dallas will have no problem building houses with all the bricks these two teams have laid. Still 99-97 Lakers leading. Timeout Mavs.

0:45 – Ariza plays with fire and comes out a hero. He challenges Stackhouse’s corner three. As the shot clock winds down. Guess what? Ariza stuffs it out of bounds with one second left. On the inbounds, The German heaves it up left-handed. Not a positive sequence for the John Mccains.

0:23 – Pau gobbles up Fisher’s airball and throws it into the bucket as Dirk is called for a push in the back. The German fouls out with that one and the Spaniard and his glorious mane convert the three point play. 102-97 Lakers still positive.

0:15 – JET is too good. Floater in the lane over Gasol is silky smooth. 103-99.

0:12 – fisher sinks his two free throws on the intentional foul in the backcourt. Lakers would have to really stick their heads in the sand to lose this one as the John McCains just ran out of timeouts.

0:10 – How about Ariza? He stole the ball on the first inbounds try. And then his activity leads to a Lakers rebound on the Cupcake Man miss. Game over. I take it back about a team needing to get to the loose balls. The Lakers only needed Ariza to get to all the loose balls. Perhaps I’ve said loose balls one too many times in succession. I’ll stop now.

Final score is 106-99. Lawler’s Law holds up. More importantly, my ulcer will now have a full 21 hours to heal before the game tomorrow. What say you FB&G community? Was this a quality win?

If you haven’t checked out HP’s entertaining live blog during the Spain vs. Greece game, check it out. Spain won pretty handily but didn’t exactly light the arena on fire. Their guard play was pretty good and I agree with HP, Rudy was very impressive. But overall, they weren’t the dominant force you would’ve expected given the hype.

1st Quarter

The crowd is so loud. There are probably 2008 people in attendance.

Yao Ming drains a straight away three pointer. This could be a very awkward game if Yao turns into a sharpshooter from distance. Only because he’s going to be breaking out the Tiger Woods fist pump after all of his makes.

Kobe, who has been tasked with guarding Lakers signee Sun Yue, just shot a corner three off the side of the backboard. Well, I’m sold, Team USA is clearly going to win the gold.

Yao Ming is playing like a man possessed by Allen Iverson’s spirit. He’s diving all around and running full speed.

Mike Breen informs us that FIBA has decided to go with three officials on the floor, instead of the usual 2. They should go with 2008 of them.

Number 6 on the Chinese team drains a super tough three pointer. I was thinking this game was going to be a blowout and Team USA would just walk away with this one and I could make all kinds of jokes about Kobe carrying Dywane Wade home, accidently mistaking his bald head for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Apparently so did team USA.

China has been mad impressive so far. Yao just stuffed the Mamba.

Doug Collins has some keys to the game. And they display the keys in a graphic that looks like the inside of a volcano. I want to know what was going on at that design meaning.

Executive 1: Hey, China’s main color is red. let’s use that.

Executive 2: Okay. And let’s add some fire.

E1: No too cliche. How about Lava.

E2: Yeah. Lava is badass.

E1: Maybe we don’t want too much red in there. People’s eyes will bleed. How about, sky blue?

E2: Done and done. These people are going to love it. Do you think anyone will suspect we’re board members of the Volcano Tourism Committee?

E1: Heh Heh Heh. Why so serious?

Kobe just nailed a long three point shot from the left wing.

COOKIES! Wade is going with the double kneepad look tonight. He just picked Number 7’s pocket out high. Free two points. Wade’s resurgence has absolutely been the story of team USA so far this Olympic season.

China is not only surviving on the three pointer, China is only trailing by 2 at the 3:20 mark.

#4, Chen, does a little Ginobili European shuffle through the lane and Team USA celebrates with some matador defense. Bravo Bravo.

HAHAHAHA. Chris Paul just got sent flying by a mean pick by Yao Ming. It was totally awesome.

Sun Yue is suppsed to be the Chinese Magic Johnson, but Mike Breen just said #8 is the best ball handler. Not necessarily a good thing for the Lakers to find out that their new PG hope isn’t even the best ball handler on a sub par team.

Oh look, Coach K got off his chair to coach a little. But he won’t call time out? What a cocky poop face.

President George Bush, the elder, is in attendance. So is the current President.

That floor is kind of a mini travesty. Especially the half on the right side of the TV. People have been slipping too often. Most notably, the Greek point guard, Spanoulis can now send in an audition tape for that show on ABC; Wipeout (the one with the big red balls). He had a clear breakaway and his footing just gave way. He didn’t even try to change direction. Just running in a straight line. There was more spectacular spillage on that play than at a lingerie store in Beverly Hills.

#4, Chen JH tries a little HORSE shot and the refs disallow it. “off the shot clock, off the back of the backboard, nothing but net.” That was what he called. Execution lacked a little bit. The ball didn’t come close to going in. A for effort though buddy.

 

2nd Quarter

Yao Ming is looking svelt. But he’s still rocking baby cows for legs.

Dwight Howard shoots some good looking free throws.

I’m so glad that we’ve got real basketball announcers. You should’ve heard the announcers from earlier…hold on.

Lebron James just pwned China. He CAUGHT a China layup attempt two-handed and sent it down the length of the floor for an easy dunk by Wade! A block would’ve been spectacular. But this was unbelievable athletic. Kevin Love has nothing on that sequence, including his much fancied outlet pass.

As D12 is shooting free throws Wang ZZ throws his hands up like a reverse Cameron Crazy. Dwight misses. I love it.

Apparently in Olympic play you are allowed to two hand shove people in the waist as long as they don’t have the ball.

I’m happy to see Redd in the game. Hopefully he’ll get some real playing time.

Magic Johnson drills a three pointer. That’s 7 of 11 from behind the three point arc for China.

So back to the point about announcers. Sometimes on the basketball channel there are no announcers. And sometimes, like during the spain vs. Greece game, we get assaulted by Snapper Jones and some other guy calling the game from New York. Speaking of that game, How come no one told me Marc Gasol is a fatty? And the announcers even said he had slimmed down tremendously. That’s absurd. There is no way he is going to be a force in the NBA. Unless you are counting the mass * acceleration type of force. He’s got plenty of that.

Kobe sends a brief memo to his future teammate, Magic Johnson 2.0, that he’s not a nancy boy by dunking in his face. Magic Johnson, it should be noted, is wearing a magic arm sleeve. Maybe he forgot to put in the batteries.

Craig Sager is not wearing his trademark crazy suits. He’s just wearing a regular button up shirt with the top button undone. He’s interviewing Jerry Colangelo who says that it’s just about the US staying focused on their own play and not worrying about who they are playing. Isn’t that the same cockiness that got us in trouble before? Confidence is great, but seriously, we haven’t won a major competition in years! EXASPERATION!

Dwyane Wade leaves number 10 WIDE OPEN behind the three point line to double on Yao Ming away from the basket. Wade forgot to read the game plan, don’t leave the shooters.

Jason Kidd reaches into the time machine and throws a great over the top pass to Chris Bosh through all kinds of traffic. It’s the kind of pass you get in trouble for if you play organized ball at the youth level because it is such a low percentage pass. 2 points.

Dwyane Wade to Lebron James for a vicious one handed alleyoop. Team USA turns up the pressure. And gets a turnover. 16-3 run helps the good guys pull away a little. 45-32. With about 2 minutes to go.

Yao Ming disposed of Chris Bosh going after a rebound. Just took his left arm and pushed him to the ground. No foul called. Chris Bosh, it’s time to man up.

Wade might be earning his nickname back: Flash. Nice baseline semi fast break finish against Yao Ming. It was speedy and delicious.

Carlos Boozer checks into the game, but disappointingly for Kyle, he’s not in there with DWill and there’s only 27 seconds left anyway.

Liu Wei is apparently Yao Ming’s best friend. They make s’mores in their dorm rooms and share bedtime stories while drinking hot cider. At least I hope that’s what happens.

Coach K actually does call a timeout to draw up a last second play and it ends with Kobe picking up his pivot foot apparently. Up until that point it looked very good. Traveling is very different than in the NBA apparently. Team USA goes into the Olympic sized locker room leading by a dozen. They put up 29 points that quarter.

Team USA is 1/12 on three pointers. That’s not going to get it done in the tournament. But they are forcing China into shooting a low overall percentage.

Halftime

My friend who’s watching the game on the east coast right now said that the NBA on NBC theme song makes its way back into the fold, but so far I haven’t heard it. And you have no idea how disappointed I am. That song is permanently ingrained in my parietal lobe somewhere. John Tesh, you are my hero. Maybe it isn’t on because I’m watching the special basketball-only channel which doesn’t even show commercials. (It just shows replays or a wide angle shot of the inside of the arena. No, they don’t seem to do halftime promotions where little kids try on Yao Ming’s shoes and race up and down the court. If you were curious.) Anyway, NBC has decided to tape delay their “real” coverage of the game for the West Coast so I’ll check it out again at 10am. Finding out what time a game is actually going to be on is tough enough. Finding out what time it is going to broadcast, is even tougher. If you wanted to watch Russia vs. Iran yesterday, you would’ve set your tivo to start recording the basketball channel at 6pm. But the joke’s on you brother! For some reason, NBC showed the games all out of order. Well technically, you could’ve watched the first 8 minutes of the game without commentary (which is very eerie) but then NBC pulled the feed. I have no idea what was the point of that. NBC’s Olympic coverage is really frustrating if you are trying to find a specific matchup in a specific sport. That being said, I love that the Olympics are in HD goodness.

 

3rd Quarter

Kobe starts it off right with a drive and dunk. Snakes can strike at any time.

Hahahaha. Doug Collins is doggin Yi and all of a sudden Yi dunks the putback over Melo’s back. Damn son. There might be problems bigger than snitchin if you’re gonna let Yi do that to you.

Magic Johnson just stuffed Dwight Howard’s fast break layup attempt. Ridiculous. The batteries are workin now!

I like the USA basketball jerseys and I even thought about buying one until I found out the replica version costs $80 and the authentic version costs $150. I’m not a baller. I gotta say though, whose idea was it to make white names on a white jersey and blue names on the blue jersey? Someone had to have thought “you know, this might be IMPOSSIBLE TO READ.”

China’s hyperdunks aren’t quite so hyper anymore. It’s 60-45 with 3:20 left to go in the third.

Everyone shortens their breaths a little as Yao Ming twists his ankle on Kobe, who had fallen under the basket. Yao gets up gingerly but it doesn’t look too serious. Probably just sore for a few days.

Kobe gets a fast break opportunity and does the simple one handed jam. The crowd is a little disappointed. They were expecting a back flip due to the hyperdunks.

Dwyane wade picks another pocket. This time he tries a fancy reverse dunk. Lebron should win MVP of this game but Wade/Flash has definitely had a positive impact, especially on defense/transition.

Yao Ming is back in the game looking fine. He might be favoring his ankle just a little.

Couple of noteable Jazz notes here. Deron Williams just tried to posterize Yao. He came up a little short. Coming back the other way, Boozer did his classic Boozerness. He reached and fouled a guy going to the basket.

Yao Ming apparently didn’t appreciate the DWill dunk attempt and just roofed DWill’s layup. Aww, stupid refs called a foul. That wasn’t a foul. Just awesomeness. There is no charge for awesomeness. Or Attractiveness.

President Bush declares mission accomplished and he’s out of here. 81 – 50 is the score. Unlike a previous declaration of mission accomplished, this one will probably stick.

You gotta be proud of Yao. Even though China won’t win this game, he is still playing his heart out and the fans love him for it. He’s been fighting for rebounds. Refusing to concede baskets on defense. And he goes out to a rousing ovation. Goose bumps people. With perhaps 500 million Chinese people watching on television, there is a lot of pressure on this team. And they’ve done very admirably this morning.

Most Impressive US Players: Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.

Most Impressive Chinese Players: Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian. Honorable Mention Liu Wei for not turning over the ball in the face of that intense US ball pressure.

 

-nomuskles

Game 3 Thoughts

nomuskles —  June 10, 2008

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?

-nomuskles

I’ll be doing an actual live blog tonight. I’ll refresh the post as often as possible so that we can continue to have a good back and forth. We’ll consider this our little joint experiment. I’ll try and pay attention to comments as we go too.

Pregame – Sasha is interviewed by Sager and says he knows Manu from Europe and that gives him confidence. Someone mentioned this might be a possibility in the comments from game 1 or 2, so kudos to whoever posited that possibility. Lakers will obviously making adjustments tonight (I hope) and the Spurs will try and replicate the success they had in Game 3 with solid defense and efficient offense. I can’t wait.

Lakers starting lineup is the usual. Finley will continue starting tonight, which means we’ll see the Ginobili off the bench.

1st Quarter

11:41 – Lamar starts it off with a 20 foot jumper that was too far left (elbow out?) but Gasol does well to grab the rebound and finish the play.

11:17 – Radman gets a nice transition dunk off a SA turnover.

9:49 – Lamar wills himself to the long offensive rebound. Great play. The Space Cadet converts the extra possession into a nice jumper.

9:20 – Spurs are shooting too early in the clock.

9:11 – Kobe hits a nice looking jumper from the left wing. Nothing but drainage. Greg Popovich decides he needs a timeout. Lakers out to an early lead, 10-4. I guess Kobe won out, the TNT overtime cam is following Kobe and Tony Parker

8:49 – The Lakers defense is stifling right now. Great steal leading to a Kobe fast break layup. More of this please. thanks.

8:30 – Ginobili checks in a little early. Radman is tasked with sticking him on defense.

8:19 – Ticky tack foul called on LO7. He stood right in front of Duncan’s turnaround baby hook in the post and got called for a foul. Weak sauce. Duncan makes both. 12-6 Lakers still up. Lamar with a little point forward action.

8:04 – lamar is very active tonight going after loose balls. He retains possession by going after a loose rebound and draws a foul inside. Make one miss one? I could be wrong, but I think his feet used to be much further apart earlier in the year and he was having more success (think back to that analysis of Paul Pierce’s free throw form). Hmm… he makes the first one and the second!

7:43 – TimmyDtheReal MVP makes the long jumper.

7:06 – Duncan hangs his big head running back down the court after being called for a foul going after the offensive rebound.

6:50 – Pau has come with some great aggressiveness. He gets a great look inside and makes the tough layup. Popovich is quite upset. Lakers up 18-8. I got to say, having the audio from TNT overtime is confusing. The whistles on the internet come about 5 seconds before the TV feed.

6:27 – following a timeout, the spurs are forced into a 24 second clock violation. Tony parker didn’t know the clock. He’s needing to get into this game.

5:53 – Kobe is doing a great job feeling his way through the offense. Lakers run a dribble handoff in the post and Kobe gets a wide open baseline jumper that didn’t involve fading away. Money.

5:25 – Spurs look to be in a position to capitalize but Tim duncan runs into the long arms of pau and Horry fouls Pau on the rebound.

4:46 – Fisher still doesn’t seem to have the basket locked in. he misses a jumper from just above the circle. He needs to keep shooting, he’ll find the range.

4:18 – Luke walton checks into the game and gets called for a traveling violation. TNT shows the play from underneath the scoreboard and you can see how much Robert Horry doesn’t respect Luke’s three point shooting ability.

3:50 – Parker comes up with the steal and in transition converts the layup. 22-15 Lakers. Spurs making a mini run here without Lamar in the game.

3:25 – Fisher hits a prayer shot from the corner. Extra high arc on that one, even for him. He was asking the man upstairs for lots of help on that one. 25-15 Lakers.

3:19 – With Tony Parker at the free throw line, it’s a battle of the bald men as Fisher and Joey Crawford discuss the proper use of the forearm on defense. I wonder who’s going to win that discussion. Whatever luck we were drawing from Kurt’s stay at the office is running out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spurs close the lead to under five by the end of the quarter, especially since Kobe will probably sit here soon.

Craig Sager’s suit is pretty loud. It’s a briht yellow color rivaling the Hornets’ alternate uniforms. Parker makes both free throws. 25-17 Lakers. farmar and Vujacic are in the game.

2:49 – PAU! PAU! PAU-WER! Pau gets the lakers another possession by doing an E Honda slap at the rebound back to a teammate and then he gets another rebound off of a Luke Walton miss from the right corner three. Pau makes both (kind of. he actually missed the second but Horry was called for a lane violation.)

2:29 – ginobili throws up a tear drop that drops about one foot from the rim. He’d like to RMA that one.

1:58 – Duncan to Pau: you can’t guard me. Duncan takes the ball strong into Pau’s grill and gets the nice layup. Shades of Amare on that one (but less fierce). walton turns it over on the other end.

1:37 – Lame touch foul called on Farmar against barry 38 feet from the bucket. Barry should make both. and does. 27-21Lakers.

1:13 – Pau is not Bynum/Dwight Howard. He can’t finish the difficult alley-oop off the pick and roll. That was a tough pass to handle and Pau doesn’t have boosties like his Airness.

0:49 – PHEW. barry missed the wide open three.

0:20 – Duncan travels his way to the basket and gets a dunc in transition. Doesn’t even matter, Lakers played no defense.

0:00 – Kobe gets away with his own travel but doesn’t convert. The quarter ends 28-23 Lakers. More LO please. And major props to gasol for his effort tonight. If he can continue at this high level, I like our chances.

On replay, the Duncan travel was very very very obvious. He took for steps by my count. Still can’t complain. even if he did dribble, the lakers weren’t even trying to stop him.

2nd Quarter

Phil blames the refs for the closing of the lead citing the ticky tack fouls.

11:38 – Ugh. Bruce Bowen does his Tony Parker impression. He’s forced off the three but shows off a little bank tear drop. 28-25 Lakers.

11:12 – Turiaf hits a nice jumper over Obert from the right elbow. We don’t need TNT overtime to see that one.

10:40 – Doug Collins says that Phil has taken Lamar away from working at the top of the circle and more along the baseline. I’m sure everyone will appreciate this change.

10:17 – ginobili is forced into a tough shot late in the clock. Great defense on the sequence by the good guys. Unlike Game 3, Ginobili misses it.

10:07 – Luke creates a great opportity for Ronny inside with a pretty spin move and dump off. ronny is fuoled and makes both free throws. Gotta be the shoes, Money. 32-25 Lakers.

9:41 – Great play by Lamar. He’s triple teamed (mismatched on parker in the post causing both Finley and Obert to help) and Luke cuts towards the basket weak-side. Lamar just throws it over the top and the Son of Bill finishes it off. timeout Spurs. 34-25. let’s hope the easy buckets keep coming.

If you watch the TNT overtime feed, you can see Eva Longoria looking on. Turiaf is the featured player this quarter! Go watch since he’s on the floor now.

8:45 – Spurs involve Horry and TP in the pick and pop but Odom just sags back to guard against penetration because he’s not worried about Horry shooting it. Luke gets a great rebound underneath the bucket on the other end and gets the nice putback.

8:07 – Lamar picks up his third foul going for a rebound against Horry and has to go to the bench. I’m not going to complain about the refs too much. Horry hits both for his first two points of the series. I don’t know how he’s getting minutes while contributing only two points over four games.

7:33 – radman takes his time to lineup the right, short corner three and nails it. 39-31. Important shot to quiet down the crowd.

7:00 – Jordan and Ronny go after the offensive rebound. farmar ends up with it and has the easy layup. 41-31 Lakers.

6:36 – Barry hits a long three pointer.

5:55 – Ho Ho Ho. Kobe denies Tony parker in the lane. Terrific play! Ugh. what a floptastic (veteran move). Farmar gets called for a foul going the other way because Bowen sold some sort of push. Ridiculous. farmar did grab Bowen first though. frustrating. 8 Turnovers so far. Automatic TV timeout. Lakers up 41-34.

5:30 – Duncan is a whiny baby. He creates all the contact against pau and misses the babyhook. Arms go flailing. No call.

5:13 – Pau does his best impression of a tree against the Tony Parker screen roll. He provides kleenex resistence and Tony parker ends up getting the offensive rebound on a Barry miss from three point land. And the foul on derek who lowbridged him accidently.

4:37 – the Space cadet is tuned into this game. He grabs the offensive reobund and gets the putback. Lakers are living off the offensive glass. 43-36 Lakers.

4:18 – timmyD gets the MVP chant at the free throw line. Aww, fisher needs a hug. he’s looking forlorn on the bench after picking up his third foul.

4:03 – Okay, that needs to be called, i’m sorry. Kobe was whacked as he went up for the shot. No call.

3:41 – What is this? Sasha going after a loose ball gets called for his 3rd foul. What a terrible call. barry just flopped over like a mackerel on the end of a line. Weak sauce. You cannot reward non-hustle by calling that foul. 43-40 Spurs are closing.

3:17 – parker makes a great move in transition against farmar but farmar gets called for another weak sauce foul. What is this???? these refs are really  not paying attention. Absolutely absurd. I hate to complain about the refs but this is just insane.

3:05 – Pau gets a weenie shot over Duncan to go. ends a littel drought. 45-43 lakers still up.

2:29 – Luke walton works extremely hard to get the ball in the paint from Gasol. What a great play by Luke to work his butt off against Ginobili. He draws a foul on Ginobili and he’s tiring Ginobili out so he’ll be less effective on the offesnive end. timeout before the free throws.

I am absolutely excited about seeing Hancock this summer (along with the Dark Knight and Wall-E).

Pop talks about improved defense by the spurs but they need to work on protecting their defensive glass. He says the smalls need to box out as well. Look for the Spurs to improve because that is why the Lakers are winning.

2:25 – Brent Barry has cat-like reactions. he just takes the pass out of the air.

2:00 – There it is! Pau goes to his post spin move quick and draws the foul on duncan. He didn’t wait to read the defense he just went. Soemwhere Stu Lants is saying atta boy.

1:37 – Another bullet dodged. Ginobili misses his right corner three that would’ve given them a three point lead. Kobe hits a nice jumper on the other end under control. Lakers up 2.

0:56 – Farmar comes quick the other way after a TP force (trying to draw the foul on Pau) and Tim Duncan tells him to hit the weight room. It’ll be the Lakers ball underneath the basket after the Lakers’s timeout. 47-45. Ginobili has absolutely houdini’d tonight. Lakers set up with four people on the baseline. walton pikcs up the loose rebound and gets the tear drop to go. What a great play even with someone hanging on his back.

0:33 – TP scoops it in after a little hitch. Froze the defense.

0:23 – SON OF BILL! in the post against ginobili, gino tries to flop and walton converts the continuation play. can he make the free throw? Nope. But Radman makes a terrific play to save it!!!! Sing his praises ladies and gents. It’s mamba time! 1 second left and hits the jumper from the free throw line. Ariza is in the game. Spurs don’t get off the shot. Great finish to the half. 53-47 lakers.

I’m going to grab some dinner. Play nice. Be back during the third.

Best +/- is Lamar at +14 and the Space cadet at +7. Those are good indicators of the game they are having. Spurs have a lot of guys in the minus right now. brent Barry is a monster at +12, though. Is this by design? letting Barry get his but stopping everyone else? I doubt it. The Lakers have just had some brain farts against him and he’s been hitting some three balls.

3rd Quarter

Public Service Announcement: Bowling on Saturday could leave your arm still sore on tuesday. Or maybe that’s just me. Yikes!

11:08 – Derek hits a nice looking 20 foot jumper over parker. impressive, but not convincing unless he can do it a few more times. That’s what she said.

10:32 – “bryant, with a strong move.” Lakers up 7, 57-50.

10:18 – Tim Duncan reminds of a trebuchet when he shoots free throws. He slings it up there almost. He misses the second one but Oberto gets the offensive board. Turnover! LO goes the other way in a hurry and Kobe hits a little floater.

9:45 – Bowen finds his range and hits a three from the left side. 59-54 Lakers up.

9:26 – Pau is wearing the hyperdunks tonight too. Along with Radman. LO is back to his normal footwear.

8:35 – Lamar gets a good-looking jumper to go from the left side. We don’t want to rely on that one, but it looked good here.

8:10 – Parker hits a good looking jumper of his own, fed by hip hop ginobili.

7:25 – That’s not his forte. Parker short arms a three.

7:05 – Standstill elevation from Kobe on the right elbow over Bowen. That was a feat of strength. bowen will live with that shot, but still, as a defender, that has to be deflating. Kobe’s rocket boosters just have more thrust than Bowen’s. On a sidenote, my sister says 27 Dresses is “kind of awful.” Word to the wise. Just thought you should know.

6:43 – RadMan is really involved in this game. He sags off Bowen on the opposite side and ends up getting a hand on the rebound funneling it to Fisher. Without him there helping Lamar, the ball would’ve gone to Oberto. That kind of play won’t make it into the final report, but the little things make a lot of difference.

6:15 – Maybe I take that back. Duncan had it in the post and VladRad sagged down with a hard double from the same side. the man he left, barry, you know, the only person who can shoot tonight, drains a three. After a duncan dunc, the spurs are only down 2. 65-63.

4:37 – After a suspect non-call on the Lakers end, Parker ties it up. 65-65.

4:22 – bowen picks up a foul for holding Kobe away from the ball. Great pass to pau streaking to the basket on the screeen/roll. And pau makes the finishing lay-in.

3:50 – tonight just isn’t Fisher’s night. He’s got to be a little fatigued. He fouled Tim Duncan shooting a 21 footer as the shot clock was running out. He hits Duncan on the arm. he’ll bounce back next game. fisher can take solace in the fact that he’s ripped.

3:29 – LAMAR ODOM makes a great play to get to the defense rebound and Kobe is cherry picking for the reverse dunk! 69-67 Lakers still leading. timeout for the bad guys. The fans shower him with a smattering of boos. They’re going to wake him up if they’re not careful. he’s played a quiet game so far, so I’m not sure they want to do that.

You know, I would hate to play against Oberto. he just looks like the kind of guy who doesn’t shower for three days at a time just so his body odor will discourage you from bodying him up.

2:18 – Offensive REbound pau! great feed to Lamar by PAU! two points. 71-67.

1:52 – duncan is going to have to pay property taxes because he’s pretty much living at the free throw line tonight. odom fouled him? I think it was actually pau’s foul but the refs prove that they aren’t watching the game. Lamar will sit with the lakers up 3 after the free throws.

1:32 – Vujacic is going to complain on this one. Don’t draw a T. ginobili in semi transition takes it into sasha’s chest and uses his forearm to create space. Sasha gets called for the foul for not being set. I can see that one going either way.

1:12 – Kobe beats Udoka and Duncan baseline for the easy jam.

0:49 – The machine got recalibrated. he finally hits a shot and the foul! A four point play coming up? Yes. 77-70.

0:20 – TimmyD takes his own “weenie” shot against Pau’s freakishly long arms.

0:02 – Luke walton with a contested three as time expires isn’t exactly high percentage. I foolishly hoped for better. It’s okay. Lakers up 7 as the quarter ends.

There’s a website called, Will It Blend? The theme  of this quarter should be, Will It Hold? Lakers need to buckle down and find the strength to pull this one out because the Spurs are going to throw everything onto the court in the last quarter. the Spurs have so much to lose if they drop this game.

4th Quarter

We start with farmar, son of bill, the machine, the space cadet, and pau. Spurs start with duncan donuts, the frenchman, barry, horry, and ginobili.

11:09 – Lakers start cold, missing their first tow shots. Tim Duncan makes a tuogh layup inside.

10:49 – On this possession duncan misses two layups. The spaniard really bothers his shots.

10:28 – vujacic gets tied up in the corner. Not a good play. He’s going to go up against Horry.  Spurs gain possession. turn over lakers.

10:02 – brent barry sold his soul to the devil tonight. Barry hits a three ball to pull his team within 2.

Since halftime, the Lakers +/- stats have become a little more pedestrian and the Spurs stats have mostly recovered. Finley’s the worst still but he’s been sitting most of the game, with Barry taking his minutes and making up the difference with a +18 so far.

9:44 – The MVP checks back in and immediately drains a jumper. If I had to bet, I’d bet on Kobe willing the lakers to victory tonight. He’s got that calmness to him that is quietly confident. But he’s going to need some help. Lakers are turning the ball over twice as often as the spurs. 14-7.

8:45 – Barry hits a leaner in the lane. As much as it’s not derek’s night, it IS barry’s night.

7:53 – Kobe explodes through a double team at an unconventional angle to get a jumper off. it misses but turiaf hustles for the rebound and draws a looseball foul. The extra possession isn’t converted as Turiaf misses the jumper.

7:23 – Lamar is really after those rebounds. Kudos to him for understanding the lakers need to keep Oberto off the glass. He’s the garbage man and he’ll make them pay.

7:01 – both teams struggling to get a bucket. 81-77 Lakers up after a kobe miss.

6:44 – Tim Duncan gets mugged by turiaf in the lane and no call is made. Duncan is furious. Well, as furious as a teddy bear can be anyway.

6:08 – ginobili hits a step back from the top of the circle. The fans are excited to see if this breaks the seal fo rhim. I say, no. Lakers up 2. 81-79.

5:35 – Farmar = too much dribbling. Lakers have gone away from the beautiful ball movement that was serving them like Alfred to Bruce Wayne, that is to say, impeccably. Instead farmar forces a ridiculously tough shot and Turiaf gets called for a foul going after the rebound. sasha and farmar are both showing their inexperience tonight. Fisher needs to stop sulking and help calm those guys down. Run the offense, play with energy under control and the Lakers should prevail.

4:52 – The Space cadet was out of touch for a moment. He doubles down on Duncan but he wanted to take Duncan tango dancing. His arm was all the way around tim’s waist. He gets called for the easy foul. I’m not sure what he was thinking, or not, on that play. Gasol gets a great feed to Lamar in for a dunk.

4:00 – Spurs are still in a drought as the Lakers are grinding.

3:51 – Lamar drops in a layup with his left hand on the wrong side and draws the foul. He makes the free throw to make himself 5/5 from the line. He’s focused tonight. Like a LAZER.

3:30 – Kobe is really good at dunking in transition. hahaha, okay, everyone in the NBA is good at dunking without anyone guarding them. he gets a steal and the lakers are up 88-79. Lakers need to not let up, but this is certainly encouraging. they survived the Spurs mini run and will hope to work on their carpentry (nails in the coffin) to close out the game.

The Muffin-Man says the big three are tired for the Spurs. i’m not sure i agree, but they aren’t punishing the lakers the way they did in the third game.

2:44 – Lakers get two possessions with a pau offensive rebound and more time drains off the clock.

2:26 – Fisher hits another jumper and the Lakers go up 8.

2:07 – Duncan Donuts gets too easy a layup against the non-defense of pau.

1:51 – Lamar draws the foul on ginobili going to the hole. Ginobili says, “hey man, i thought we had a little bond among left-handers here.” Lamar makes one, misses one.

1:46 – trying to do too much, barry throws the ball away in transition. great job by the lakers to harass him on the break, forcing him into a mistake.

1:26 – sasha is just a little bit off. He can’t hit the wide open jumper.

1:09 – Lakers should win here. time is winding down and the lakers have a five point lead.

0:56 – Lamar works his butt off to get inside position on the Kobe miss (forced it) and draws a foul. He’ll shoot two. Drains the first like he’s been doing it his whole life. and the second. lamar, can i have your babies? Lamar at +15 and Kobe at +9. Barry continues to drag the hearst uphill with a +20 but Finley and oberto’s -18 and -15 are too much to overcome.

0:28 – Kobe rushes it and throws up a bad look. manu hit a three. Tony parker takes the bad miss and goes length of the floor for the layup (lamar goal tended supposedly). Lakers up two.

0:07 – Spurs get just what they wanted. fisher shooting a difficult level = 10 from the left corner. The shot misses so badly that Robert horry gets caught off guard and the ball goes off his leg. It’ll be Lakers out of bounds with 0:05.6 left. If the lakers inbound successfully, the Spurs foul, and the Lakers make both free throws, the game is for sure over. If they only make one, it’s still a nailbiter. and if don’t make any it’s no good. Oh. I’m a fool for listening to Doug Collins. the shot clock never reset so kobe is forced to shoot a fadeaway from the left side. He misses badly and the Spurs will have 2.1 seconds to get a bucket. Let’s hope the Lakers packed in the powerade so they don’t suffer brain lock and give up a cheesy foul or an easy two. Oh my goodness, my heart can’t take this stress. I’m going to have to go on hypertension meds.

0:02 – barry draws all kinds of contact from fisher (brain lock) but the officials don’t bail barry out. If they call that foul barry would be at the line for three throws with his team down two. I’ll gladly admit that that was a foul and Barry should have been shooting three free throws. But everyone knows you can’t count on the refs to blow any kind of whistle at the end of the game. they act like WWE-type contact is permissable at the end of games. But let me be the first to point out that the refs missed calls all night and this wasn’t the only call they missed. They missed that Duncan travel most noticeably and a bunch of other stuff. It’s sad a the game has to end like that. fisher needs to not foul from 30 feet away from the bucket. He’s got to get his head in the game when for Game 5.

Lakers fans, take a breath. that was a lucky escape. Spurs fans, I feel for you, but I gotta go with Kurt’s advice, handle your business during the game and it wouldn’t be up to the refs at the end of the game to make a split second decision that could go either way.

I like our chances to go to the finals now. Crossing my fingers, toes, and anything else I can. Lakers win 93-91.