Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each had their worst games of the playoffs, Kobe Bryant exploded for 36 points, and Sasha Vujacic came off the bench with 20. Yet the Lakers only beat the Celtics 87-81. As far as game 3 losses in the NBA Finals, this one ain't so bad.
I'll ease up a bit from my sensationalist headline. The Lakers weren't lucky, they were the better team last night. I'm not Phil Jackson, I won't make excuses. The refs had a solid game too, so no complaints there.
So what went wrong for the Celtics? For starters, Pierce had an atrocious night. He was 2 of 14 for 6 points. He got in foul trouble early. He turned the ball over. His passes lacked crispness, and sometimes lacked sense.
Kevin Garnett didn't look sharp either. He was 6 for 21 with only 21 points.
Ray Allen was on fire, though, nailing 5 three pointers in 5 attempts. He led the Celtics with 25 points.
Rajon Rondo's departure due to an ankle sprain hurt the Celtics a great deal. Although Eddie House played well in Rondo's absence, when Rajon returned, the Celtics offense sputtered and stalled. Unfortunately, this was down the stretch in the 4th quarter. It's no coincidence that this was also when LA took the lead back.
I wouldn't be too worried out there, Celtics fans. The Lakers needed Kobe to put up 36, and Vujacic to light it up with 3 pointers. They also got a little tiny bit of luck. Remember Pau "Missing an L" Gasol's "tip-in" in the 4th? He tried clamping both hands on it, the ball popped out, then fell in the hoop. This was Gasol's humble reaction to the gift given to him by the basketball gods:
Things will be different in game 4 on Thursday night. Once again, the Sox game has been moved up to 6.
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Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill