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Kobe Bryant's one-act show gave the Lakers the best chance to win in an otherwise disappointing 92-86 Game 5 loss to Boston

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The odds seemed out of the Lakers' favor as they faced a six-point deficit with 1:30 remaining, but Kobe Bryant appeared determined his skillset alone could overcome the challenge. After receiving a dump pass from Lakers forward Pau Gasol at the nearside perimeter, Bryant pump faked and drew contact on Boston guard Ray Allen. The play gave Bryant three free throws and a chance to give the Lakers' one last push to win a game they had no business stealing.

He nailed the first two in easy fashion, but like everything else the Boston defense had thrown at Bryant in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, he'd see that even free throws would seem contested. A fan threw an unidentified object on the court; Lakers forward Lamar Odom later said it appeared a glass bottle of vodka nearly hit him but off-season boxing classes gave him the reflexes to avoid the hit.

"That's too bad because somebody could get hurt," Odom said afterwards. "But I've seen it before. There's no place for that."

Bryant released the free throw just as the apparent bottle hit the court, causing him to scream in frustration at officials. There were many more theatrical shots Bryant made and many more sequences that displayed Bryant's frustration. But his free throws showed how Bryant's valiant effort happened because he had to work for all his shots, while his teammates provided nothing on offense and the team broke down on defense. The result? The Lakers' 92-86 Game 5 loss to the NBA Finals Sunday to the Boston Celtics at T.D. Garden made Bryant's 38-point performance a pointless affair.

"We didn't get any stops," said Bryant, who finished with at least 30 points for the 14th playoff game this season. "They got layup after layup after layup. You can't survive against a team that shoots 56%. We're normally a great defensive team."

The Lakers, however, in Game 5 weren't, meaning they must win out the series beginning with Game 6 on Tuesday. The team maintained a level-headed attitude afterwards, insisting part of their confidence points to their home-court advantage. But that's a scenario hard to predict given how this series has shifted back-and-forth. Likewise, the statistics provide contradictory proclamations on who will win the series. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is 47-1 after winning Game 1, but the Lakers are 2-4 all-time when losing Game 5 after a series is tied at 2-2. The Lakers are 7-4 in NBA Finals history when they hold home-court advantage, but they have a 22-4 mark after winning Game 5 of the Finals. 

Breaking down the odds for now proves to be a pointless exercise because the Lakers don't have a chance to win the series if they replicate their Game 5 performance. That starts with limiting Boston, who shot 56.3% from the field, outrebounded the Lakers, 35-24, scored 46 points in the paint, converted on 14 fast-break points and featured four players in double figures, including Paul Pierce (27 points on 12 of 21 shooting), Kevin Garnett (18 points and 10 boards on a six of 11 clip), Rajon Rondo (18 points on nine of 12 shooting along with eight assists and five rebounds) and Ray Allen (12 points on five of 10 shooting).

"I don't think it was lack of effort as much as being prepared," Jackson said, "for what they could do."

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Whatever the reasons, the Lakers' performance looked far from pretty. And the following sequences after Bryant's missed free throws didn't exemplify the Lakers' poor offense and defense as much as it did during their third-quarter effort. Nonetheless, it showed how an improved offense and a few breakdowns couldn't overcome a poor performance. After Bryant nearly stole the ball from Garnett, he passed it to Allen, who missed an open three-pointer. Kendrick Perkins grabbed the offensive rebound and received a new 24-second shot clock after officials ruled that the shot hit the rim. Rasheed Wallace missed a three-pointer off the timeout, and Derek Fisher drew himself into a jump ball with Garnett with 46.6 seconds remaining. Fisher then tipped the ball to Artest, who drove the lane and drew a foul on Pierce. But with the Lakers' trailing 87-82, Artest missed both foul shots.

"I felt comfortable taking those," said Artest, who scored seven points on only two of nine shooting. "I'll knock those down next time."

He surely didn't make up for it on the following play after the Celtics' 20-second timeout. Garnett inbounded the ball to Pierce on the near-side perimeter, with Fisher nearly stealing the pass. Pierce then passed the ball to Rondo who cut through the lane ahead of Artest. Odom didn't react quickly enough to help, allowing Rondo to convert on a reverse layup, giving the Celtics an 89-82 lead with 35.2 seconds remaining. After Odom made a putback on Bryant's missed three-pointer, the Lakers didn't foul Allen until Boston shed 10 seconds off the clock.

"We just didnt get enough stops as a team," said Odom, who acknowledged he had flu-like symptoms on a night he scored eight points on four of six shooting but became a defensive liability. "This is a team that we're playing against that even though they go through lulls offensively, everybody is involved in the game because they move the basketball so well. It just allowed them to get a couple more steps than we were able to get."

Some may read those comments and conclude the Lakers' uneven offense contributed to their loss. The tenor from part of the press corps suggested Bryant's 38-point effort, including 29 third-quarter points, hurt the team more than it helped it. But that assessment couldn't be further from the truth. He may have gone two of six from the fourth quarter, but he also went five of five from the free-throw line, two of his missed shots resulted in putbacks and one of his failed attempts came in the final seconds with the outcome already determined.

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Bryant's third-quarter performance brought the Lakers back in a game that should've actually been a blowout.

"When Kobe gets hot like that, then he's hot like that," Odom said. "You can't deny it. We just needed to get stops as a team. We weren't able to do that."

Keep in mind that Bryant played facilitator mode in the first half, and the effort did very little to spark the offense, with the team shooting 33.3% from the field. Aside from Andrew Bynum's six early points and Fisher hitting a few shots to give him nine early points, nothing clicked for the Lakers. Artest shot two of seven from the field, Gasol only went one of four and Bryant's four of 12 clip partly happened because Jackson said his sore ankle prevented him from getting some lift.

But after retaping his ankle, Bryant looked like the player some reporters and fans wanted to see in this series. He pulled up for an elbow jumper over Perkins. He shot a contested three-pointer at the top of the key over Allen. Fisher threw a lob to Bryant, who converted on a layup one-handed. He bailed out an ineffective Artest, who drove the baseline and almost committed a turnover in traffic, but found Bryant open at the top of the key. It looked like Bryant's heroics could bail the Lakers out with scoring the team's first 19 third-quarter points.

Except there was one problem. The Lakers allowed the Celtics to score on 12 of their first 13 possessions.

"They got hot and got too many points in the paint," said Gasol, who had his worst playoff effort in Game 5 with 12 points on five of 12 shooting and 12 rebounds and constantly allowed the missed calls to distract his focus. "We allowed a couple penetrations there that shouldn't happen. They got going. We battled back as much as possible. Kobe was hitting some very tough shots and kept us in the ballgame. But we have to cut down on the points in the paint."

Some of those breakdowns included these plays. Garnett drove the lane, spun around and pulled up for an offbalance jumper over Gasol. Later, Pierce drove, spun past Jordan Farmar and stopped at the right block for a pull-up J. Soon after, Garnett jab stepped and drove past Odom for the pull up J. After Bryant drove the lane on one play in the fourth quarter, Allen stripped the ball and no one got back on D to stop Rondo from converting on the fast-break layup. Moments later, Pierce missed a three pointer after performing a pump fake over Artest, but Rondo tipped the ball in over Odom.

Those type of efforts were also on display in the first half. Pierce caught Odom off balance and drained a 15-footer in the first quarter. Odom got rejected in the lane by Wallace in the second quarter, and Glen Davis fired an outlet pass to Tony Allen for an easy bucket. Moments later, Rondo weaved past Bynum and Odom in the lane for a reverse layup. Garnett converted on an offensive putback over Gasol, who failed to box out his man.

And offensively things didn't look much better in the second half. Gasol tried driving the lane, but was blocked by Perkins. On the other end, Rondo ran the break, threw a bounce pass cross court to Pierce , who timed the ball to Allen up top. With Bryant helping in the lane, Bynum rushed out to contest Pierce's open far-corner three pointer but the shot dropped into the basket.

Interestingly, on a night Bryant proved his worth, the Lakers finished with their lowest scoring effort this postseason. On a night Bryant worked for every point he scored, the Lakers defense made it too easy for Boston, who finished with their highest shooting perfomance this postseason. So don't blame it on Bryant, who did everything he could to give the Lakers a victory. Blame it on the rest of the team's offensive and defensive effort for not giving Bryant much of a choice. 

"They got all the hustle points in terms of loose balls and offensive rebounds down the stretch, Bryant said of Boston. "We didn't convert."

--Mark Medina, in Boston

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant had to make a lot of diffficult shots to collect his game-high 38 points against Boston during Game 5 on Sunday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to collect a loose ball in front of Boston forward Paul Pierce and L.A. center Andrew Bynum in Game 5 on Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

 

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who beat Boston power forward Kevin Garnett to a rebound, has the ball stolen by Celtics forward Paul Pierce after a missed free throw by Ron Artest in the final minute of Game 5 on Sunday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.

 
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Just think of it... what if the Lakers played as hard as OKC did in the first round.
...
The Lakers, if they pull this again (and hopefully not), will get see tomatoes.
...
Posted by: Tim-4-Show | June 14, 2010 at 07:53 AM

Okay i get what u r saying ur expectations are really high... dat said.. did u throw tomatoes on LAKERS in the 90's?

And as I told u or someone here.. Don't compare Celtics to OKC.. big mistake.. dat was 1st round.. western conference.. and a homeless franchise with lil babies in diapers playing..

tomatoes.. spanish festival .. a aaa ha .. Pau Gasoft Spanish.. looks like Tomato Season is right around da corner den.. too bad i only see da tail end of Figueroa .. close to lol Inglewood Pierces' home.. Tomatoes Festivaaaal in LA dis year!

Whether we win or lose this year, the front office should be blamed for standing pat at the trade deadline and not getting bench help. Also, this summer, we are presented with the same issue, upgrade at PG or find some bench help for the MLE? Someone like Mike Miller would be a God-send as a shooter/facilitator on the 2nd unit.

The lack of help from the bench is so disappointing.

Wow!

So, the blogsters wanna get rid of pretty much anyone not named Kobe.

Yes, last night was a painful loss.

Yes, the team just didn't play as well as they could have.

Some of the players and PJ deserve some criticism.

But look dudes and dudettes, these guys got us to 3 consecutive Finals appearances.

It may be a little premature to draw and quarter them all right now.

Can we at least wait until the Finals are over and see who shows up to play the next 2 games. No team has done this since, lets see, oh yeah, since the Lakers did it.

One or two of the players who you guys have already put on the chopping block may come through big time in the next 2 games.

If they don't, then have at it.
Call them losers.
Demand they be traded.
Crucify them.

But if the Lakers win the next 2 games some of you are going to look pretty silly.

The rallying call should be 'Remember 1988'.
Lakers down 3-2 against the rough and tumble Pistons, go on to win 2 in LA.

It ain't over till it's over.

And when it's over, whichever way it goes, go easy on the "I told you so's".

Your fellow Laker blogsters are going to feel bad enough.

Mamba24,

The current bandwagon that starts with Phil but has no players illustrates my point beautifully. Doc has all 15 Celtics signed up for their bandwagon. After Kobe, who will stand up?

There's still plenty of time and Game 6 awaits.

To quote a great American Nelson Muntz - "HA-HA"

Laker Poetry

Their coach tried his best to get them play (better)
They seem not to care, looking at their fate
as it disintegrates..

Their poise is not of a defending champ
Bryant making it good but not in the scoreboard
They look lost as Rondo runs around everyone..

Their rings are losing off their fingers
As Celtics are poise to pick them up
off their Staples floor...

Hopefully they'll win one, then extend it to two
Then they'll say..it's so much fun when you come back
and win it for YOU ( Lakers diehard).

Lakers take Game 7.

JUST GET THERE.

The rallying call should be 'Remember 1988'.
Lakers down 3-2 against the rough and tumble Pistons, go on to win 2 in LA.
...
Posted by: Art - FL Laker Fan | June 14, 2010 at 08:07 AM

You had a guy called Magic Johnson then who kind of lead the team. Heart and soul.. and Pat Riley..

Kobe is going to lead u now? how? Jack up more threes.. can't dare to drive to the rim .. the more 3's he jacks up better chances Celtics take it in Game 6 .. and as seen before.. the more Lakers get desperate the more 3's Kobe Jacks..
- long range shots turn into fast breaks
- teammates get cold
- no rebounds for putbacks
- teammates feel like they r spectators.. need i say more

just rewind 131-92 .. and see .. kobe jacks a 3 ... misses.. lead becomes posey 3.. lead becomes 11 .. kobe jacks another.. lead was 18 .. house's 3.. kobe jacks another and misses.. lead was 17 .. Game OVER!

Had u played team ball.. kept the lead around 8 .. u might have been in that 131-92 game.. but nooooo ... holier than thou ... mamba gotta show dat he is greater den MJ .. and da greatest... DA CLOSER!


Lakers take Game 7.
JUST GET THERE.
Posted by: latopia | June 14, 2010 at 08:17 AM


My Bold prediction ... Gonna go to Vegas and bet my gin bottle .. LAKERS in SIX!

Yeah Baby.. LAKERS IN SIX!!!

Where is this Black Momma I keep hearing about?

Good Morning Laker Family,

Give the Celtics credit, they just beat us to the punch time and time again last night. All that matters right now is game 6 in our house. Celtics won 2 in a row at home and now the Lakers need to do the same. But for now it's only about game 6. There's no excuses to be made, the Lakers as Kobe said just need to man up and play, period.

DID ANYONE NOTICE:

1. For every single point Kobe had to work hard with 3 defenders hounding him

2. IN contrast Pierce did not

3. So why is Kobe trying to play 1 against 3 or 4s?

4. There is no ball movement, with Kobe there is a huge black hole and the ball stops with him.

5. There is no way in hell Kobe alone is going to win against the Celtics even if he scores 100 points.

6. Here lies the fault, Kobe does not know how to corrale his team mates and is too eager to do it on his own.

Ricky:

Where are you? If you read this please B....h slap ouchhhhhhh..

Posted by Ouchhhhhhhhh
Kevin Garnett: "Pau Gasol lost a STEP. And he is the same old Chocker from Memphis"

Posted by: ouchhhhhhhh

Celtics are obviously the better team. Kobe vs 'the big four'.. It's not even a contest. Unless the Lakers start playing like a team this thing is over in six. Celtics confidence has got to be high going into LA.

Lakers can not win with Kobe Bryant scoring alone. They are not hustling on defense and for rebounds. hey dont have a will to win. Lamar is pathetic. Nobody is driving to the basket or moving around and the ball on offense. They are all standing around and wwatching Kobe to make a shot. They are not defending Pierce [Artest]. Look at Allen's hustle to block Gasol shot. That is how they have to hustle. Only person playing defense is Derek Fisher. They have to be more physical like the Celtics hustling for everything. Maybe they have to put MB to put some body on defense and offensive boards. At least the man has a heart.
I am disgusted with Laker's lack of effort. They dont deserve to be champions.

Phil Jackson -
"This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than anybody in the NBA. They know how to lose in the fourth quarter. They're just showing us that now."

Not this time you Zen Master Freak head! Celtics will once again proove their dominance over the Lakers. It would have been a threepeat had KG been healthy last year.

WHEN LAKERS LOSE FACTIONS PREVAIL:

1. Kobe Faction: Leader ouchhhh, second in command Kblitz and underling Hobbitmage

2. Pau Faction..leader lonesome dove Ricky

3. Bynum Faction: Leader LakerTom and his diciples CornerJ, Staples4, Nemeia

4. Bottom Feeders: Captain Jack, Celticnation, Red love child (bastard) and 131-92

5. Confused Lakers fans rainbow Coliation: Leader Edwin Gueco, Mamba24, LakerMike, Art-the-lakerfan, UTZworld

6. Renegades: Leader Jon K.

WHEN LAKERS LOSE FACTIONS PREVAIL:

1. Kobe Faction: Leader ouchhhh, second in command Kblitz and underling Hobbitmage

2. Pau Faction..leader lonesome dove Ricky

3. Bynum Faction: Leader LakerTom and his diciples CornerJ, Staples4, Nemeia

4. Bottom Feeders: Captain Jack, Celticnation, Red love child (bastard) and 131-92

5. Confused Lakers fans rainbow Coliation: Leader Edwin Gueco, Mamba24, LakerMike, Art-the-lakerfan, UTZworld

6. Renegades: Leader Jon K.

WHEN LAKERS LOSE FACTIONS PREVAIL:

1. Kobe Faction: Leader ouchhhh, second in command Kblitz and underling Hobbitmage

2. Pau Faction..leader lonesome dove Ricky

3. Bynum Faction: Leader LakerTom and his diciples CornerJ, Staples4, Nemeia

4. Bottom Feeders: Captain Jack, Celticnation, Red love child (bastard) and 131-92

5. Confused Lakers fans rainbow Coliation: Leader Edwin Gueco, Mamba24, LakerMike, Art-the-lakerfan, UTZworld

6. Renegades: Leader Jon K.

7. A--holes: FAR SIDE

Hi, troll here. You Laker fans keep talking about what a classy team you have and how the Celtics are: thugs, low class, etc. Well what was that all about when PJ was saying the Celtics are a bunch of chokers who lose more games than anyone in the 4th quarter. What kind of coaching is that? Is that the sign of a classy team to belittle your opponent like that? He is being taken to school by Doc Rivers. Face it Lakers, you are playing a SUPERIOR team and I know you hate hearing that but it is true. 3 hall of famers vs. 1 means our team is probably better. At the rate the Lakers are going your team will score about 75 points in the next game.

Here are the facts...
1. Kobe is a great player.
2. Gasol & Odom are guest players from the WNBA.
3. The Celtics simply have a huge advantage in bench depth.
4. Kobe with all his superpowers can't carry the whole team on his shoulders. The rest of the team can't jump, can't defend, can't convert from a kickout pass, can't rebound, can't block, can't shoot, etc.
And I'm still surprised that there are still people out there who think Odom and Gasol can still make a difference in this series. This is the 11th Finals games with the Celtics and these 2 girls have not improved a bit. 11 games.
The fact remains that we got the wrong players since 2008. We won last year because we had Ariza. Twas our own version of MJ and Pippen. With Ariza, traffic was under control. Even Odom and Gasol had no problems doing their thing. Then, we released Ariza and gave Odom and Gasol huge contracts. If we lose the series, twas simply because the Lakers chose the wrong people to retain and the Celtics was the better team. Time to make drastic changes based on the facts. Rebuild the team. How about Kobe, Amare, Bosh, Ariza, Deron and cheap but reliable role players? That would give us about 5 consecutive championships...

Ghost of Red,
PJ wasn't outcoached by Doc. He had to make do with what he had. If the situation was reversed, I seriously doubt it if Doc could get in the finals. Twas the Celtics all stars versus Kobe. It is not an excuse. It is a fact. But here's our consolation - we only had Kobe supported by players from the WNBA's Sparks and they gave the Celtics a run for their money. hahahaha. Just kidding. I like the odds for Kobe. Even if the Lakers lose, Kobe would have proven beyond doubt his greatness...

I don't think it's Rivers that's behind their wins as much as it is their defensive coach [Who will be leaving the Septic's]. I seem to remember Kobe saying last time we played them that he knew all his moves. I still believe we will win the next two. Go Lakers!!!Gotta have that faith!!!

So was PJ's gameplan to play one guy agains 5? Seems to me he was outcoached as the Lakers were completely ineffective both offensively and defensively.

CeltsInSix,
Read my entry...

Time to make gangrene remember why Staples Center has been an opponent's house of HORRORS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1seRoDHmOMw

Celtics played insanely good basketball last night. The only flaw was the turnovers. That and Kobe's amazing performance are the only things that kept them in the game. The Lakers may have the best player in Kobe (debatable) but the Celtics have a better TEAM and this is a team sport not a one man show. That's why the Celtics prevailed over Dwayne Wade and the heat, Lebron James and the Cavs, and Dwight Howard and the Magic. Soon they will prevail over Kobe and the Lakers bringing the Trophy back to Boston where it belongs.

These Celtics are remeniscent of the Championship Pistons team. I mean they were a great team and they beat LA and their star power the same way - great defense and sharing the ball.

Your observations here are fair, relevant and astute. Had the Lakers stopped the Celtics on just a couple of plays, the result would have been different. Similarly, I can't help but think that the Celtics got the benefit of home court officiating: as the above picture clearly shows Garnett and Pierce committing loose ball fouls on Bryant AND that 3 point shot NEVER hit the rim! When are they simply going to call a fair game?

It is sadly true that this blog has turned into a battle of the cheerleaders and the trolls.
It is also sadly true that another humiliation of the Lakers by the Celtics, and this time at Staples, could cause some irreparable damage to LA's psyche. I know I couldn't stomach another season of carrying that shame and waiting for another finals to redeem, now two humiliating finals.
What is it with the Lakers franchise? Fans were wanting Boston to have a chance for redemption, and maybe deep inside the team wanted some payback, but what we've noticed over this series, is the same ol' samo, the Celtics, a bunch of clowns, kicking the Lakers' face in, and getting away with it clean.
I realize this sad fact, the Lakers with Kobe taking over like he did in the last game can only signal disaster. As much as he says all he wants is to win badly, he has to know by now, there is no way he'll win anything doing what he did on Sunday, and yet there he is expecting to win going 1 on 5. He should've learned this lesson looking at what has happened to Lebron. And the ten-ring-guru, again, does nothing to bring the team together. It is obvious the only reason that a bunch of clowns are beating the Lakers is that they play a team game, bottom line.

Team effort on defense & offense at fault except for Kobe. The only players putting in 100 % effort against Celtics: Kobe, Fish & Bynum (injury permitting!). Pau is at 80% and the rest of the team a pathetic 70% effort, including Odum & Artest (All talk & no heart or mental toughness). That will not get it done against the supremely confident Celtics made so by Odum, Artest, Gasol, Brown, Farmar & PJ(has not given bench confidence with hap hazard substitutions during season). Kobe is tired in the 4 th quarter because of a lack of Team effort by the named culprits; PJ letting it happen. Replace Lebron with Kobe on Cavs and they would have swept Celtics. Lakers we need 110% effort since you have 90% Celtics talent! Go Lakers in seven!

LAKERS WAHH WAHH WAHH WAHHH HEY HEY HEY WAH WAH WAH!!!

GOOD BYE LOOSERS!

6TH GAME RESULT:

KOBE = 72 POINTS 15 TURN-OVER
THE REST OF THE LAKER PLAYERS = 8 POINTS
TOTAL = 80

CELTICS = BALANCE SCORE OF 82 POINTS

SCORE BOARD: CELTICS WON THE SERIES BY TWO
BWA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

NA NA NA NA... NA NA NA NA... HEY HEY HEY.... GOOD BYE LOOSERS!!!

Rarely post, often lurk. Mamba24 - thanks for delivering the verbiage we need. Lakers will not go quietly, LO – Pau have big games in them which should surface, they should want to be a part of great winning Laker history. Do they want to be part of a summer of the same criticism as in ’08 – don’t think so. Passing to Kobe and letting him figure it out on his own won’t cut it. They know this. Pau knows he's much improved, last game was an outlier. LO - no time like the present.

 
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