The NBA: Where hella fouls happens
Certainly was the case during last night's 108-102 loss to the Celtics. What began (and ended, to some degree) as a reasonably tight game unraveled down the first quarter's stretch, when Kobe Bryant joined Vlad Radmanovic and Lamar Odom on the pine with early foul trouble. The second unit continued their starters' fate as whistle magnets (and just as importantly, repellents), a foundation laid for a 38-10 discrepancy at the stripe. Phil Jackson questioned later how reserve Leon Powe- who undoubtedly played well- can live at the line more in fourteen minutes than his entire team did in 48. That margin wasn't entirely without explanation (even a miffed PJ conceded his opponent was more willing to take a charge or attack the rim with showy aggression), but certainly not to the degree that it played out, which undoubtedly affected the game in a way that made adjustments difficult for the Lakers.
But lest anyone think this blog is pinning a loss squarely on the refs, think again. Even when the Lakers return to Staples on Tuesday for some theoretical home cooking, if some issues aren't ironed out, friendlier officiating ain't about to guarantee a happier box score.
Too many instances where the Lakers become content not to execute their offense, particularly in terms of the spacing required to make it hum. Whether Vlad Rad, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza (whose first foray into meaningful playoff PT yielded no stops and gummy offense), Kobe Bryant, or a newly activated 2X4, somebody needs to come up with a stop against Paul Pierce. Lamar Odom and the game plan are anything but simpatico at the moment. The Mamba struggling to find his shot until deeper into games isn't helping matters (although his speech making prowess is aces). And even if you're upset about the difference in physicality displayed (or allowed), it can still underscore a toughness exhibited mostly by those donning green. The almost-comeback staged by the Lakers can provide some optimism hopefully carried back to their turf, but it still begs the $64,000,000 question. Can the Lakers compete like the team that cut a 24 point lead down to a bucket in eight minutes play that way for an entire game against these Celtics? Because right now, even if your belief in the Lakers remains, they're still getting outplayed.
If for whatever reason you've been losing sleep over what Curt Schilling thinks about Kobe Bryant, read this, then grab a pillow.
Like you people needed another reason to dislike Red Auerbach.
Summer school could be required for this here report card.