Live from the Finals, Game 2: Lakers vs. Celtics
BK here. Wow, fans are fired up. During the National Anthem, whenever they showed a Laker on the Jumbotron, the crowd booed. Then a Celtic, with wild cheering. Another Laker, more booing. Right now, the members of the Boston Pops who performed tonight are wondering why the crowd only seemed to enjoy half of their effort.
After the Lakers were introduced, they're now showing highlights from Game 1, leading off with Paul Pierce's return to the court in Game 1, and capped with KG's offensive rebound and dunk that sealed the deal for Boston.
It's certainly a hostile environment for a very important Game 2.
Celtics turn the ball over on their first trip, as Kendrick gets dinged for the illegal screen. The Lakers respond with a nice possession- an offensive rebound for Gasol, then the reset, swing the ball around and Fish finds a cutting LO to get the Lakers on the board.
Pierce hits a three on the other end, and the Celtics are up 3-2.
10:20- Kobe grabs the offensive board but misses the putback. I know he talked about bunnies in Game 1- that was a bunny.
10:06- Vlad picks up his second foul, and PJ comes back with Ariza. Solid move.
In Game 1, when Vlad got into foul trouble, PJ responded with Sasha, and it threw off the entire rotation once Fish had to come back in on Cassell, Kobe had to pick him up, etc. Now with Ariza, they basically keep the substitution pattern the same and hopefully get the regular minutes that they want from everyone else.
8:00- Nice play from Gasol, backing Perkins down in the post, faking right, going with the left hand for the bucket. Points in the post. They need that. 10-5.
5:07- Timeout on the floor, Lakers up 15-12, and Boston making a little push. The Lakers are doing a much better job early in Game 2 getting the ball inside. LO had a nice tip in off the offensive glass over Perkins, Gasol hit a baby hook with the left over Perkins in the lane, then had a great move backing down Garnett and throwing down with the right hand. Good patience, good aggressiveness. If they can keep this up, combine it with Kobe's normal crank up as the game goes on and they could be in good shape.
The important thing is that they don't want to freak out and stop doing all the things that got them there, just because the Celtics are a strong team.
Walton in for Ariza out of the TO. He's guarded by Pierce.
4:18- Good play by Gasol and Walton. Luke had Pierce sealed on his back, Pau led him forward, and Walton was able to go in for the layup. Good recognition, good pass, good finish.
3:45- Allen hits a three over Kobe, and it's tied at 17.
Allen fouls Kobe on the other end- it's the first Celtics foul of the game, over eight minutes in.
3:04- 19-18 LAL. The Celtics are still making things very tough for Kobe, who is now trying to get into the post on Allen. The looks are coming for other players right now, and they'll have to get Kobe catching and moving to find him some space.
2:06- Kobe throws a pretty weak elbow- it' looked more like he was putting his arm up to gain position on Allen, and he just wasn't there yet. Either way, it was a pretty soft whistle to pick up his second foul of the game. Full speed it looked much worse than it did on the replay... and at full speed it still didn't look that bad. Two on Kobe, two on Vlad.
Farmar and Sasha in off the TO.
:44.3- Farmar draws a foul on Rondo, his first. The trip before, Garnett hit a big shot for the Celtics at the bottom of the 24, after the Lakers had done a nice job and forced the Celtics into a hurried shot.
Wow, that was a clear flop on Perkins. That kind of thingThen it gets worse for the Lakers, as LO picks up his second foul on the next Celtics possession. The Lakers end the quarter with Vlad, Kobe, and LO all with two fouls.
Farmar hits a big three at the end of the quarter, and the Lakers are up 22-20.
END OF THE FIRST:
On the scoreboard, it's a good quarter. The Lakers got inside with Gasol, Odom made his way into the lane a couple times, Fish has stuck some good open looks. Kobe has only taken four shots, made one. On the other end, the Lakers are doing a good job, holding Boston to 20 points, keeping them off the glass (one offensive rebound), and forcing five TOs. They certainly look like a more composed bunch tonight. They've had much more to say about the pace and flow of the game tonight than they did on Thursday.
Seconds in for LA- all of 'em. Ariza, Turiaf, Walton, Farmar, Sasha. With three starters having three fouls, PJ has to try and get some minutes from these guys.
11:21- Sasha gets hit for the reach before Powe gets contact inside, but fortunately he misses the shot. Two FTs go down, and we're tied at 22.
9:40- Pierce hits a three, and PJ is forced to call a timeout, likely to get some new personnel on the floor. There's just not enough offense with that group. The bad charge call on LO and the faux elbow against Kobe have certainly hamstrung the Lakers at the top of the quarter. 10-0 run to start the quarter for the Celtics.
PJ hoped to squeeze some minutes from the seconds given all the foul trouble, but I don't think he'll be able to. Kobe, LO, Vlad all back after the timeout.
Kobe hits his first shot on the return. They've got him operating out of the post, and he and Posey are beating on each other pretty good.
8:10- Great offensive rebound from Vlad, then a lucky break as the pass he threw out to the top of the key as he was falling out of bounds was tipped, but went right to Odom who put it down.
On the other end, Turiaf picks up a questionable foul on Powe- looked like he went straight up to defend the shot as the ball came into the post. That's two on him, and another Laker with some early foul trouble.
7:04- Kobe hits a jumper at the top of the key over Powe. Said Mark Heisler sitting next to me, "That's another 20 foot bunny with a hand on his face." Lakers down 36-30.
6:40- Fish reaches in on the Garnett drive and picks up his second foul. They really do like to do things as a team.
5:50- Pierce blows by Vlad on the perimeter like he's standing still- was he actually standing still, and has way too much room to roam inside on the Lakers- he dishes to Perkins who up-fakes Pau completely out of position, and as Gasol lands on his back Perkins gets the layup. He'll go to the line with a chance to put the Celtics up by nine. Right now, it's 40-32 with a timeout on the floor.
The Lakers are still struggling to find rhythm offensively after a pretty strong start. Only 10 points in the quarter, and most importantly, they've been to the line all of one time--- on a technical foul. Boston: 14 trips, nine alone for Powe.
5:30- Nice play by Odom, tipping in the Vlad tip of the Kobe miss from downtown. That's Odom's second tip in, but it was set up by a good effort from Vlad to keep the play alive. Vlad hurt them with the early two, but it seems to have fired him up a little. He's been very active since he returned to the game.
4:42- The Lakers finally get a bit of a make up call, as Perkins is hit with a pretty weak push off call underneath. Looked like he had position on Odom. That's his third.
4:22- Nice recognition by Vlad and Pau- after the screen switch, Gasol had Pierce on his back. Vlade left him the ball, and Pau want straight over Pierce, backing him down and putting it in with the right hand to get the bucket and draw the and one on Pierce. That's his second. Lakers down by 4, 41-37.
2:52- Timeout Lakers, as consecutive triples from teh Lakers give the Celtics a 10 point lead. The Lakers have totally been removed from their offense. They're struggling to find good looks for Kobe, who is in turn trying to create them himself, which is hurting the offense. The threw in a little P and R on the last possession before Fish took a very bad shot from downtown. That could help.
2:05- A triple from Vlad Rad cuts the lead to 47-40. He's been one of their best players in the quarter.
1:53- Ouch. Kobe picks up his third, running through Pierce while chasing Allen around the floor. He'll have to sit for the rest of the half, and Allen gets both FTs (the Lakers are in the penalty). Sasha in for Kobe.
:23.9- Fish picks up his third. This isn't good.
HALFTIME: 54-42 Boston.
A promising start has turned sour for the Lakers, as they've continued to struggle with fouls. Kobe has three, Fish has three, Vlad started the game with two, LO has two, Ariza two, Turiaf two, and so on. All told, it's 17 personals in the first half for the Lakers, 10 for the Lakers. FT disparity, 19-2 Boston, and one of those for the Lakers was on a Garnett technical foul. So in game play, it's 19-1. The Lakers are getting it done in the paint behind a strong 13 from Gasol and eight from Odom, but the Celtics have effectively removed Kobe as a threat going to the basket, and you can see he's getting frustrated.
On the ol' to do list, the Lakers have done a good job on the boards, with a 19-17 advantage, but clearly haven't mastered teh whole "don't foul" thing. Some of that is home court for Boston, some of that is aggressiveness on their part, but the officiating hasn't been particularly helpful to say the least. Some very critical calls on Odom and Kobe early that have changed the flow of the game considerably.
It's a good thing halftime in the Finals is long, because they have a lot to talk about.
Nothing like web access in the upper press box.
Anyway, with 4:29 left, the Lakers have used a 6-0 run to cut the Boston lead to nine. Three straight plays off screens, with Kobe moving the ball. High screen and roll with Pau and Kobe, LO flashes to high post, Kobe hits him, Pau rolls, easy dunk. Pretty. Next play, Kobe comes off the Pau screen, finds space, hits the tough J. Then Kobe rolls over, finds Pau flashing to the FT line for an open jumper. Better ball movement, more baskets.
The Celtics are a tough team to come back on, especially if things get rushed. The Lakers just have to continue to be patient and work the ball around. PJ employs a baby press out of the TO. More for show than anything else.
3:00- Consecutive poor plays from Vlad, as he drives and kicks to... nobody, then loses Pierce on hte other side for an easy Boston bucket. Kobe forces two straight threes and the Lakers look extremely close to coming unglued.
Luke in for Vlad, and misses his first J. Allen hits a three on the other end in the left corner as LO can't find him on the break, Kobe turns the ball over trying to lob the ball to Pau in the post, and off the TO, the Celtics come back and get an easy layup for Powe, from Rondo on the little lob in transition. The Celtics lead is now up to 20, and the Lakers officially have, um, issues. They're just getting thoroughly outplayed in every aspect of the game.
Boston is able to break them down in almost every trip down, and the Lakers haven't been able to stay disciplined on the other side, or hit anything from the perimeter that might stretch things out.
1:20- Lakers down 79-59.
1:10- And in the "bad to worse" category, LO picks up his fifth, a charge into Brown trying to drive to the hoop.
END OF THE THIRD:
Powe punctuates the quarter with a dunk, as the Lakers get burned by Rondo penetration to end the quarter. They double Pierce on the wing, he passes out to Rondo, who drives in space, has an open look and an easy dump to Powe who has an even easier dunk. 83-61. There's always hope... but man alive, there ain't much right now.
10:00- The Lakers are still down by 21 as the Lakers are getting some ball movement, but no stops defensively. They're still being broken down. At this point, though, they're being careful not to foul and put the Lakers on the line. The only way they're going to lose this game is to give them free points.
9:20- Farmar hits another three, and the Lakers are down 18.
KG comes back with two jumpers in front of Turiaf on the other end, and the Celtics lead is back to 20.
During the TO, they're playing "Don't Stop Believing." Not a hard thing for the Celtics fans to buy into right now. PJ comes out of the TO with Gasol and Rad back on the floor, and give up what might have been the worst baset in basketball history, a coast to coast dunk from Leon Powe, in which nobody even moved to defend him. That was awful.
6:45- Pau to Kobe attempt at the alley oop goes awry, as Kobe can't get the handle the pass, and the ball goes out of bounds. That's about how things have been going.
5:56- Lakers down 96-78.
4:41- The Celtics are more than willing to trade buckets, and are now laying off the Lakers on that end, which is why they're scoring with more easy. Unfortunately, because the Lkers are down by so much, they have to take a lot of risks defensively, and Boston is getting a lot of clean looks, making it tough to get any traction.
3:48- The lead is down to 13, so it's still a game, but barring a miracle, the hole is too big.
2:45- But at least they're still playing. Kobe triple cuts the deficit to 11, but they'll send Rondo to the line out of the TO, as Sasha fouls him on the drive.
2:15- Kobe drives and hits the floater along the right block to cut the lead down to nine, but Pierce converts inside on the other end. Back to 11. Kobe gets inside again for another layup. Fish gets the steal, Vlad goes the other way, hits Sasha, who buries the three. Celtics now by six with a minute six to play...
1:03- Vlad Rad forces the steal, then goes the other way for the dunk. It looked initially like he traveled, but on the replay it was that Euro off-step takeoff. Lakers down by four with a minute on the clock and Boston with the ball. Clearly I put this one in the win category too early. The Celtics went into the prevent defense, and the Lakers have brought the game back. Now it's a question of a) if the Lakers can get stops, and b) if the Celtics can turn it up again.
Pierce fouls Kobe on the floor, and Bryant goes to the line and hits two. Lakers down by a pair. They need a stop...
Fish fouls Pierce on the drive, and he'll go to the line for two with 22.8 left on the clock... makes the first. Three point Boston lead.
and the second. Lakers call timeout, down 106-102.
Sasha tries to take a three, and Pierce recovers to block it. Not the shot they were looking for. Posey tracks down the ball, and is fouled by Fish who was pushing for ball. Posey makes two, and that's gonna be it.
Final score 108-102.
More to come.