Not so close, but plenty of cigars
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Join us for Purple, Gold, and Blue at 11 am. We'll have a whole host of folks- it's a travel day for the media (including AK, who will be calling in from Logan airport)- including John Ireland of KCAL fame, David Neiman of SHLA, and (we hope) Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm. Click the show widget on the side of the page, or click here to access the show directly.
Sad to report, that smoke in the air wasn't the result of a Grouch Marx impersonators convention touching down in the Boston area. Alas, it was the aftermath of a 131-92 crushing by the Boston Celtics, the new champeens of the NBA. From nearly the start until the very painful finish, the Lakers were outgunned, outshustled and generally out-what have you-ed in a one-sided battle of historical proportion. Forced by the Big Three and Company (led by KG, who set a challenge hopefully accepted by Andrew Bynum) into a stance rather heel-centric, the Lakers were often scrambling to catch up with their opponent, remaining several steps behind the action and in permanent catch up mode. They were also in "hand out" mode, seemingly content to share the ball with Boston on a whopping nineteen turnovers, the same number marking the rebound margin in the Celtic's favor. And yes, the two offensive rebounds in the box score is by no means a typo. Those fans dead set on pointing out what the Lakers did right, feel free, but make sure to stock up on sandwiches, beverages and perhaps a No-Doz or three, because you're gonna be here a while sorting through a lot of mess.
So how did everything go so wrong, you might ask? Well, some... okay, many upon many a media scribe
will point to the performance of reigning MVP Kobe Bryant, who endured neither his finest game or series. Like all of his teammates, he found himself continually running into a wall that is the Boston Celtic defense. In particular, Bryant struggled against their scheme, which was essentially to make life miserable for #24 at all times. But in the end, to point a finger squarely at Bryant would be to underrate the need for the other nine digits. There is puh-lenty of blame to go around for this flame out. Thus, no surprise to see the ooogly marks all around. From the letdown performances by briefly rejuvenated bigs Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to a bench that provided zip last night and during the majority of the series, the better team beat the one with the best overall player and there's no way around it.
They may have come up short in their ultimate agenda, but there's still plenty of reason not to blow this squad up and start over. After all, you're talking about a team nobody expected much from, a team that surprised the hell out of every pundit and analyst. Not that the 2009 title is a given, of course. A bump in the toughness department is obviously mandatory, along with the need for a better starting 3, and of, course, some experience (which was just painfully gained). But the foundation is seemingly in place.