NBA Finals Game 4 Log...
I've been quite busy lately and haven't had a chance to blog much about the playoffs. I have been doing my best, though, to watch many of the Lakers game throughout these playoffs. Given the ease with which they dispatched the Nuggets and the lack of serious challenges against the Jazz and Spurs, I thought the Lakers would roll on the Celtics. And at halftime in Game 1 my confidence was still there. Heck, even after they lost Game 1 I was still thinking that the main reason they lost was because they went cold in important parts of the latter half and that they'd redeem themselves in Game 2. But, as we know, they didn't, in part because the refs were making some pretty questionable calls, but in a larger part because Kobe was bickering with his teammates and the Celtics were playing strong D. That's when I realized what, perhaps, I should have known all along: the Celtics are a better team than LA. And that's the thing about 7-game series. The best team wins the series most every time.
Anywho, I figured that if the Lakers could sweep at home they'd be heading into Boston with a lot of momentum and a Celtic team with a shaken psyche. And in tonight's game, when they were up by 24 in the 2nd quarter, I thought if they could keep this lead up and extend it even, win by 25 or 30 or 35 points, a shell shocked Boston team would likely be would likely wilt in Game 5, giving the Lakers the home sweep and setting up a possible Game 6 win in Boston. But we know what happened. The Laker squandered a magnificent lead and strong first half and ended up getting embarrassed at home. My new prediction: Boston in 5. I don't see the Lakers bouncing back from this defeat.
I watched the entire game and kept a running diary to post here. This game started so well - Lamar playing out of his mind, the role players really stepping up and scoring - and then it ended so badly. All times are Pacific Daylight Savings Time.
[6:10 PM] Four shots from LA - one 3 ball attempt from Kobe, three drives to the hoop. To win this series the Lakers need to keep attaking the basket.
[6:11 PM] Back door cut by Pau for an easy dunk. First nice off the ball movement we've seen by the Lakers this Finals.
[6:16 PM] Lamar to the hoop for two! Again! Welcome to the NBA Finals, Lamar. In case you didn't hear, they actually started last week, but I'm glad you're here now. Please don't leave until we wrap this series up.
[6:26 PM] 21 point lead for LA. But what's more important is that Lamar has finally showed up, is playing aggressively, getting boards, and on fire (5 for 5 shooting). During the regular season the Lakers had too many games where they'd open a big lead and then let the other team come right back. Times where they were up 20-25 points in the 3rd only to end up in a game that goes down to the wire in the 4th. They gave up a big lead in the Utah series, too, and barely hung on to pull out the W. Let's hope that this pattern doesn't repeat itself tonight.
[6:29 PM] Odom, again! 6 for 6!
[6:36 PM] Clearly "Good Teammate Kobe" is in the building tonight. Yes, he's commanding the ball to start the offense, but he's very often passing to open players. A much more team-oriented approach than what we saw at the start of Game 3. Although you wonder if we'd be seeing "Scowl at My Teammates" Kobe if they weren't enjoying a 21 point lead at the end of the first.
[6:42 PM] Interesting lineup for the Lakers. Gasol is the only starter with four bench players. This has been one of the Lakers main assests this season - an exceptionally strong and talented bench. They didn't show their talents very well in Boston, though.
[6:45 PM] Ariiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiza! It's good to see Trevor back. He showed some great flashes in the regular season prior to his injury. With a healthy Bynum, a better integrated Ariza, Sasha with a new contract, Lamar in a contract year, and the team coming off of a World Championship (fingers crossed), next year's squad should be absolutely amazing.
[6:52 PM] Odom! Again! 7 for 7!
[7:04 PM] Celtics on a 12-0 run. Erp.
[7:05 PM] Fisher to the hoop... and 1!
[7:15 PM] FAMAR AT THE BUZZER! Wow! FOR THREE! Speaking of Famar, how about those ears?
[7:17 PM] End of the first half, Lakers lead 58-40. Their biggest lead of the half was 24. You know the offense would shut down at one point, and the Celtics would start hitting their shots, slicing into the lead. After narrowing the gap to 12, the Lakers came out of the slump and finished the quarter strongly. Lamar is playing quite well (although for some reason he sat for most of the 2nd quarter). Gasol is having some troubles with his handles. A number of passes have slipped through his hands, and he's lost the ball going up for a layup once, too. He needs to step up his game, too. Not tonight, maybe, but certainly on Sunday for Game 5. Fun fact of the half: Kobe has yet to score a field goal. Yessir, it's "Good Teammate Kobe" tonight.
[7:38 PM] The first couple of minutes of the third quarter will set the tone for the rest of the game. Let's hope the Lakers can come out strong, build this lead back up to 24-28 points, and send the Celtics a message.
[7:46 PM] Gasol is playing very timidly tonight. Virtually every time he catches it in the post he's looking to pass. Even on his cuts to the basket he's looking left and right, wanting to dish off rather than take it strong to the bucket. He started off the game with a nice back door cut and dunk, but since then has had poor hands, has been getting schooled by Garnett, and has apparently has come down with some sort of strange allergic reaction to iron that's keeping him far away from the rim.
[7:56 PM] Celtics on a run. Deficit cut to 11. The Lakers came out flat to start the third quarter and despite pushing the lead back up to 20 at one point, they've been playing rather uninspiring ball.
[8:03 PM] It's now a single digit deficit game with two minutes left in the 3rd.
[8:04 PM] A botched finished by Gasol at the rim (ball slipped out of his hands) then a foul on the defensive end trying to (futilely) stop Garnett. Can we just start calling this "The Gasol Move?"
[8:07 PM] Celtics down by two. Lovely.
[8:12 PM] Kobe... dribbling... dribbling... dribbling... shot clock ticking... dribbling... dribbling... pass to Touriaf under the rim, nice.
[8:13 PM] Turiaf: two missed free throws. Not nice.
[8:31 PM] Celtics take the lead and, with that, the Lakers players' testicles. All of them. In one fell swoop. Let's hope the Lakers can get them back before this game ends.
[8:35 PM] With a shade over two minutes remaining, the Celtics push their lead to 5. Beautiful.
[8:46 PM] There's still time left, but there's no way the Lakers are going to win this game or the series. And they don't deserve to win the title. No team that can surrender a 24 point lead in a game of this magnitude deserves to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy. What a horrible game by the Lakers. Just horrid. The Celtics are clearly a better, deeper team.
[8:52 PM] I feel sick to my stomach. The Lakers had this series in their hands. Witha big win tonight, they would have had all the momentum heading into the most important game in a 2-2 series - Game 5.
[8:56 PM] I can't imagine what the players on the Lakers must be feeling now. They had a chance to stick it to the Celtics, to truly shake their confidence and hold serve in LA. But the opposite happened, instead. They let the Celtics dig themselves out of the hole they fell into and win and take a vital 3-1 series lead. Gasol was terrible this game. What motivation does he have to pick it up next game? And Lamar had a strong first half, but shrunk from the spotlight in the second half. This would have been such a great game for him to bolster his confidence headed into Game 5. But now? Now he's going to continue to hide in the shadows. My prediction for Sunday? Lakers put forth a subpar effort and get blown out by the Celtics at home. What a total letdown.