Posts tagged: Phil Jackson
Kevin Garnett was married in 2004, but I know nothing else about his relationship. You won’t see him pretending to be a statue in Boston anytime soon and he likewise would never conduct the Boston Pops or sing at the bar Cheers. You see, Garnett is an intensely private individual. But when he gives interviews, we are sometimes allowed to peer through brief windows into his character.
Garnett appeared on the Dan Patrick Show this morning. While he didn’t quite bear his soul like the time he cried in front of John Thompson, Garnett nonetheless revealed himself, this time more subtly. Maybe I’m being overly psychoanalytic. It probably wouldn’t be the first time, nor would it be the last. But Garnett’s interview seemed telling (read the transcript on Green Street).
At one point, Patrick poked fun of Brian Scalabrine.
“You got room for me on a one-year deal on the bench?” Patrick asked. “I could be sort of a Scalabrine type.”
But Garnett is fiercely loyal to those who deserve it.
“You willing to give up that body of yours, man?” KG said. “Scal gave up a lot. He was big for us. I know people like to crack little jokes about Scal. Scal’s in the league for a reason.”
Garnett went on to discuss a host of different topics. He does not trust the owners in the labor battle because they are the opponent and he does not know their entire agenda. He loved playing with Shaq and called this season “probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time in the NBA.” He believes the lockout will not continue throughout the entire season — “this game is too beautiful,” he explained, “with everything that’s going on and all the story lines that surround our game, I can’t see just blowing away the season.” He still wishes he left Minnesota earlier because management did not share his vision for the future, which presumably featured winning rather than rebuilding. And he has not yet discussed a contract extension with the Celtics (his contract ends after the 2011-’12 season), nor does he know how long he wants to continue playing.
The conversation turned to the Lakers’ suiting of Garnett when he was available on the trade market. As Zach Lowe recalls, the Lakers reportedly offered Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum for Garnett. And the deal was close. If Garnett had said yes, he would have been a Laker.
“What’s disturbing about the whole Lakers situation was just Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time,” said Garnett. “They were at each other pretty bad, and a new situation full of uncertainty wasn’t something that I wanted to get into.”
Garnett loves to win. Hell, he once famously broke down in tears because his Minnesota Timberwolves were mired in struggles. But he could have played alongside Kobe Bryant, then the game’s best player, and played for Phil Jackson, the game’s most accomplished coach, yet Garnett said no.
Maybe he feared that the duo’s squabbles would keep the team from winning. Or maybe there are some things more important than winning, even to Kevin Garnett, who might run his grandmother over with a tractor if it meant he could win an NBA championship. Garnett paired with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Doc Rivers instead, two stars and one then-unheralded coach. They had not won any championships alone or together, but hey, they weren’t mired in a public argument either. They were in the right stages of their career to embrace Garnett and everything he stands for.
I have to admit, I’m fascinated by Kevin Garnett. The way he plays with a volcano of emotions. The way he walks into Boston’s locker room before a game and does not say a single word. The way he altogether stops talking to young teammates who won’t listen to his advice. The way he looks down most of the time he talks, but when he looks up it’s as if his eyes could stare a hole into your soul.
Garnett almost always shields his private life from the media. He’s a complex individual, one of the most unique characters in the NBA, and I would never claim to understand everything he is. But sometimes he opens his mouth and a few telling words come out, and I feel just a little bit closer.
Forgive this piece, before you even read it. This isn’t a real rumor, nor is it even a fake rumor. It’s simply a what-if scenario J.A. Adande offered up on TrueHoop. And a scary what-if scenario, at that.
It’s not that hard to envision a scenario that brings Paul to the Lakers. It starts with Jackson retiring, a move he said he is “leaning toward.” Then bring in Byron Scott to replace him, as has long been rumored. Out goes the triangle offense, which probably wouldn’t suit Paul. In comes Paul, who maintained a good relationship with Scott even after Scott was fired by the Hornets. (That’s more than could be said with Scott’s previous two point guards, Baron Davis and Jason Kidd.) Meanwhile, Scott and Kobe Bryant go way back to Kobe’s rookie year, when they were teammates, so that would work, too.
Why would any of this work for the Hornets? They need to shed salary, with the four years and $52 million remaining on Emeka Okafor’s contract sticking out on their spreadsheet like a nun on Bourbon Street. The best way to entice a team to take on that contract would be to include Paul in the deal, painful though it may be for the Hornets. Besides, if they really like Paul and want to repay him for everything he’s done for that franchise and the New Orleans community they’ll give him a chance to play for a championship contender.
They could send Paul (owed $14.9 million in 2010-11) and Okafor ($11.5 million), with contracts totaling $26.4 million, to the Lakers for the combined $27.5 million in 2010-11 contracts of Andrew Bynum ($13.8 million), Lamar Odom ($8.2 million) and Sasha Vujacic ($5.5 million).
The Lakers are scary enough with Derek Fisher running point and Andrew Bynum limping his way through a semi-productive Finals. Add Paul to the team and a center with two functioning knees (although Okafor is no healthy Harry either) and suddenly that offense is lethal. My knees are shaking right now like I’m Chris Webber at the foul line during crunch-time.
Losing Lamar and Bynum would hurt the Lakers, but the thought of adding CP3 to that squad is enough to make me seriously consider a drug binge.
Check the scoreboard at the beginning of this clip. Note that the scoreboard is during the Lakers practice, so I don’t know if it was actually left up for the Celtics’ workout. (h/t Sports by Brooks)
I’m so fired up. Fuck the Lakers. Fuck Phil Jackson. Fuck whoever decided to leave this score up. Fuck Kobe. Fuck Fisher. Fuck Pau. 89-67 means nothing to me. This could be the 1969 balloons all over again.
Look, I know there’s enough motivation to win Game 7 as is. It’s the goddamn NBA championship, after all. One more win and the Boston Celtics will be able to raise their 18th banner to the rafter. If you need more motivation than that, you don’t have a pulse.
But let’s say for a second you really don’t have a pulse. Let’s say you need even more motivation than an NBA title. Let’s also pretend that you despise Phil Jackson because he’s a snarky, arrogant prick who never seems to show humility or kindness at any point in time.
If that’s the case, you’ve got two million more reasons to want the Celtics to win Game 7. (ESPN)
One more victory in the NBA Finals wouldn’t merely bring Phil Jackson his record 11th championship ring as a coach.
A second consecutive title for the Los Angeles Lakers would trigger a $2 million performance bonus in Jackson’s contract, according to NBA coaching sources.
Jackson is the league’s highest-paid coach with an annual salary of $12 million.
Imagine? Phil Jackson makes more per year than Rajon Rondo will over the next five years. I doubt I’m the only one who finds that absurd.
The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “‘We came from a long way out,’ the Celtics guard said, thinking back to a moribund regular-season finish that had them counted out on just about everyone’s board except their own. [...] ‘When we started the season they picked us to make the Finals, and they forgot us along the way,’ [Ray] Allen said. ‘But here we are, capable. The tougher it is, the better we become. The beautiful thing about this whole situation is that we never had homecourt advantage except for the first round.’ [...] ‘You have that tendency to look ahead,’ Allen said. ‘I’m sure a lot of people are thinking about what’s on our mind, but you have to mentally block it out. All day tomorrow you have to think about what you need to do, and how you need to rest – the small things you need to do to start the game off. The moment you look up, you’ll be in that moment. But you have to work for it. To achieve that moment that we want, it’s going to take everybody to do the things they do. We can’t leave any stone unturned and we can’t take shortcuts,’ Allen said. ‘When our opportunity comes, we’ll be standing right there, and we’ll have our moment.’”
Baxter Holmes, LA Times – “‘Whatever happened last year, I thought we had a great season, we got beat by Orlando,’ [Ray] Allen said. ‘It’s a new year and it’s definitely been a blessing, but this year has definitely been a lot tougher, and I think the tougher it is, the more you want it.’ [...] ‘I think along the way, people forgot, forgot who we were and what we were capable of,’ Allen said. ‘We got back to that mentality, but it didn’t shake us at all. We didn’t worry about what people said, what they thought. People were saying that we were a team that was old, but here we are. We’re capable, that’s the most important thing and we all knew it.’ [...] Allen said the Celtics are ready. ‘I think I’m going to see urgency, desperation, a no-quit attitude — and that’s from us,’ he said.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “‘The Lakers have played the best between us to get home-court advantage,’ Rivers said. ‘But we’ve played the best all year on the road. So our team will be ready, and it’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us because they’re going to be great, and we’re going to have to beat them at their best because they’re going to be great there, and we can’t expect anything else.’ Los Angeles was 34-7 at home during the regular season, but the Lakers’ playoff history at Staples Center is slightly staggering. Since the start of the 2008 postseason, they are 29-4 at home. They have only lost once at Staples Center in these playoffs and that was in Game 2 against the Celtics, snapping a 12-game home winning streak. Kevin Garnett’s philosophy has always been that closeout games are the most difficult. But he said figuring out how to put the Lakers away might be the greatest challenge in his 15-year career. ‘They’re playing at home,’ Garnett said. ‘Home is always where your heart is. And with the severity of the game, it’s all out on both ends, for both teams. This will probably be the hardest game of the season, if not of the series, if not of everybody’s career, this game coming up.’”
Peter May, ESPN – “Well here’s a teachable moment for Rivers: The Celtics are the seventh team to take a 3-2 lead into the opponent’s building for Games 6 and 7 since the dreaded 2-3-2 format was implemented in 1985. Four of those teams — the 1985 Lakers, the 1993 Bulls, the 1998 Bulls and the 2006 Heat — took care of business in Game 6 to win the title. The two teams that didn’t, Rivers’ 1994 Knicks and the 1998 Detroit Pistons, also lost Game 7. So the message should be clear. The Celtics had better put the word ‘Armageddon’ at the top of their plan for Game 6 Tuesday night because no home team has ever lost Game 7 after winning Game 6 in this scenario. ‘Ever since they [the Lakers] won Game 3, we really have felt that every game is a must game,’ Rivers said. ‘Each game is a Game 7. That’s how we have to approach [Game 6]. We lost our wiggle room by losing that home game.’”
Johnny Ludden, Yahoo! – “Just like two years ago, the Celtics have proven to be the tougher team – mentally and physically. And just like two years ago, this is a reflection of the coaches. Once again, Rivers is getting the best of Jackson. Jackson has this much going for him: Unlike 2008, the Lakers return home to make their final stand. A week on the road can wear on anyone, and both teams know this series can change with a cross-country flight and a single game. But something also needs to change within these Lakers. For the past two games, the Celtics have been the smarter, sharper, more urgent team. Jackson has long reigned over the league with a cool confidence that borders on arrogance. He doesn’t make many friends among his peers. He doesn’t panic, and he doesn’t believe in sideline histrionics. He’s seen it all before, and he coaches as such. With Jackson, there’s always the unstated belief that his teams will persevere. Most of the time, they do. His 10 championships validate him as the preeminent coach in the sport’s history. But this is the second time he’s taken the Lakers into the Finals as favorites against Rivers and the Celtics, and this is the second time his team has been pushed to the edge. A healthy Andrew Bynum(notes) could make a difference, but Bynum has rarely been healthy in the playoffs. This is who the Lakers are. They’ve been terrific frontrunners in this postseason, and now their resilience gets tested. Jackson has had few answers for the Celtics’ toughness, and that speaks more to what Rivers has done than what Jackson hasn’t. Somehow, Rivers has turned his three aging stars into grinders. Some nights they score, some nights they don’t. Almost always, they defend and wear on their opponents.”
Christopher L. Gasper, Boston Globe – “The Celtics became the first team to win two in a row in this series, but now they have to become the first (and only) team in the series to win two games on the road or they’re returning home without the title. Seems fitting because this redoubtable bunch has taken the road of greatest resistance all season long. Close-out games on the road have not exactly been the Celtics forte since Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen revitalized the franchise. Boston’s starting five has never lost a playoff series (7-0), but only once have they closed out one on the road — the 2008 Eastern Conference finals in Detroit. The Celtics are 1-7 in put-away away games over the last three seasons, and may I remind you the last time they lost a playoffs series, which was sans-KG last season, they were up 3-2 on the Magic and that was without the added burden of the 2-3-2 Finals format putting the final two games on somebody else’s floor. This series is close with a capital C. After five games, the teams are collectively separated by just one basket — the Celtics have scored 464 points and the Lakers have scored 462. The team that has won the rebound battle has won each game. The Celtics are averaging 47.8 rebounds per game to the Lakers 47. Rondo, who has shown a maturity beyond his years in these playoffs, showed sagacity that belied his age in assessing the State of the Finals. ‘It’s still anybody’s series,’ said Rondo. ‘They’re the defending champions. I’m sure they’re going to come out and fight hard, so it’s not over — the series is not over yet.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Pierce scored a team-high 27 points and late in the fourth quarter played the middle man between Garnett and Rajon Rondo on the game-sealing sequence. For the second straight game, he was the Celtics’ leading scorer. It was the first time all postseason he had led the team in scoring in back-to-back games. ‘The thing about me, when I step on this court, NBA Finals, I don’t want to have no regrets at the end of the series,’ Pierce said. ‘Whatever I do I want to be aggressive with the ball, go out and play as hard as I can 48 minutes. That’s what I’m trying to do to finish out this series.’”
Dan Duggan, Boston Herald – “‘I think a couple guys maybe thought KG lost a step or something when he struggled in the first few games, but he’s caught his rhythm, doing intangibles on the court, scoring, rebounding, assisting, blocking shots,’ point guard Rajon Rondo said. ‘He’s changing the game. That’s what he’s been doing for us all year.’ In addition to regaining his offensive rhythm, Garnett once again is playing with unfiltered emotion. That bothered Gasol, who after appearing to shed the soft label, regressed in the three games at the Garden. Though Gasol clearly was tentative in those games, Garnett didn’t attribute that to intimidation. ‘I think both teams are playing very physical basketball,’ Garnett said. ‘I think the intimidation factor is not even a discussion or even an issue.’”
John Krolik, Pro Basketball Talk – “Question: Is the Laker offense broken, or is Boston’s defense just that good? Answer: Boston’s defense is just that good. They swarm and recover like no other team is able to. They play physical without losing their heads. They don’t let anybody get to where they want to go, and dictate the pace of the game even when the other team has the ball. They made Cleveland’s offense look broken. They shut down Orlando’s three-point attack and handcuffed Dwight Howard at times. They didn’t let any Heat player other than Dwayne Wade have any kind of success. (Okay, maybe that wasn’t all that hard.) Despite all the injuries they had in the regular season, they finished 5th in defensive efficiency. In 2008, the last time Garnett was healthy for the playoffs, the Celtics dominated every offense in their path on their way to banner #17. That season, their defensive efficiency was the best in the league. They have the best defensive center in basketball this side of Dwight Howard. They have the best defensive point guard in basketball. Their power forward was the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. Their defensive coordinator is perhaps the best defensive mind of the last 20 years. At some point, it is not a coincidence that so many teams forget how to play offense when they play the Celtics.”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “The Celtics have to respond to the Lakers’ aggression. They cannot back down or rest players for Game 7 if the game gets out of hand. They can’t plan for two games in Los Angeles because they will lose that bravado, that confidence that allowed them to withstand Bryant’s furious push in Game 5. So Game 6 is as critical to the Celtics as it is to the Lakers. The Celtics have closed out the past two series in Game 6 with the fear of Game 7 on the road hovering over them. With the 2-3-2 format, that is no longer an issue. For the first time, the Big Three-led Celtics will have to finish off an opponent away from TD Garden, and a team that has had its share of lackadaisical moments this season has to focus on the moment at hand. That will be their most rigorous challenge this season.”
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop – “I remember being a guest on a radio show just before the playoffs. We were talking about who should win coach of the year. Scott Brooks made a lot of sense to me — can you remember seeing one of the league’s youngest teams also its most defensively disciplined? That has to be good coaching. We were assessing coaching accomplishments with the assumption that the regular season was enough to judge on. That’s how the coach of the year award works — the voting was almost done by the time we were talking. It’s a regular season award. But of course, kicking some regular season butt is child’s play compared to what the ‘big boy’ coaches do. People like Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers coach all season with the playoffs in mind. That may even mean giving up regular season wins, for instance by sitting a key player, to make sure the team is ready for the playoffs. The best coaching of the year happens in the playoffs, which is why it’s strange that the best coach is picked before they begin. Rivers didn’t even come up in that radio conversation. The Celtics were a 50-win team just like Portland, but they had not had Portland’s string of injuries. Instead, they had a title-winning roster from two years ago that apparently just wasn’t as good anymore. There were whispers they’d lose to the Heat in the first round. But in reality, Rivers was pulling off an amazing act of long-term strategy.”
Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe – ” The Celtics love the road. Then and now. The 2009-10 Green were rather ordinary at home (24-17), but compiled the second-best road record in the NBA (26-15, topped only by Dallas) during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Celtics are an impressive 6-4 away from home, including two wins in both Cleveland and Orlando. Beating the other guys in their own gym demoralizes the home team, which is exactly what the Celtics did at Staples Center in Game 2 of these Finals. Now the Celtics need one more road victory to win the franchise’s 18th championship. ‘There’s nothing like winning a championship on the road,’’ said Cedric Maxwell, MVP of the 1981 Finals. ‘You get to shut up the home crowd and have your own little celebration. You get to party with your teammates and you have a great flight home. Then you get to celebrate all over again with your own fans.’”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “As much as the Garden crowd might have loved the sight of Rajon Rondo [stats] picking up a technical foul for his retaliatory shove of Ron Artest, or Ray Allen drawing a double technical for a chippy interchange with Derek Fisher, Doc Rivers wasn’t amused. The issue of technical fouls – especially in the fourth quarter – is a sensitive subject with an NBA title so close. Allen, though, wants his coach to relax. ‘It’s those small little battles that go on in the game sometimes that seem like they’re necessary,’ the veteran guard said. ‘You can never back down. You have to push forward every opportunity you can. You make somebody think you’re coming – that you’re going to trap them – and that’s what we did early. And you attack often.’”
Baxter Homles, LA Times – “Though Allen had a poor offensive game, he was still noted for his defense on Kobe Bryant. That doesn’t sound like much, considering Bryant scored 38 points, but Celtics forward Glen Davis said it could have been worse. ‘I feel like if Ray didn’t do it for us defensively, Kobe scores 50,’ Davis said. ‘He made shots for Kobe difficult. Kobe hit some really difficult shots today. Ray did a great job.’ Allen said his mentality is shifting from offense to defense somewhat during his slump. ‘My mentality is really, if I get an open one, shoot it, but I’m not going to rest behind it,” he said. “Getting to the hole is important. Even if I don’t shoot, it’s an extra pass because a lot of times I can be bait out there, let them dangle me behind the line and they help and then somebody else gets a shot.’ He said his focus now is making Bryant take tough shots. ‘Whether I hit another shot, it’s one game to have more points than them, so whatever I have to do, defensively that’s where my focus is,’ Allen said.”
Steve Buckley, Boston Herald – “When the Celtics take the floor tonight at Staples Center to face the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, they will be looking to wrap up their second championship in three years. But when adding the Patriots and Red Sox into the mix, the championship math borders on the unfathomable: A win by the Celtics tonight (or failing that, in Game 7 on Thursday) would be the Boston sports market’s seventh championship in eight years. Kind of puts that ‘Boston ***ks!’ chant into perspective, don’t you think?”
Mike Bresnahan, LA Times – “One live morsel could be found on the Twitter account of Lakers executive Jeanie Buss: ‘Just picked Phil [Jackson] up at the airport. He is concerned but upbeat . . .’ It was a good summary of the words coming out of the locker room in the immediate aftermath of Game 5, where the Lakers were again outrebounded and again outscored in the paint in a 92-86 loss that put them down in the series, 3-2. If they can’t fix those areas Tuesday in Game 6, Staples Center might be a silent venue Thursday night, though the Lakers were resolute. ‘We’ll respond,’ forward Lamar Odom said. “Our energy is still up as a team. Our confidence is still there. The series is not over.’ Is he sure? ‘It’s the third win for them,’ he said. ‘It’s not like the trophy is theirs. They still have to win more and they have to do it on our home court.’”
Jessica Camerato, WEEI – “But there’s more than just a long frame and outside shot that separates Gasol from other big men around the league. ‘He’s seven-foot with skills,’ Kendrick Perkins told WEEI.com. The Barcelona, Spain native honed his skills playing international basketball, where assists are applauded just as loudly as dunks and the emphasis is placed on the team, not just the individual. His international accolades include winning a gold medal and MVP honors in the 2009 EuroBasket tournament and a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. ‘The thing about international big men is they’re kind of like guards,’ Perkins said. ‘They’ve got a lot of crafty things in their game. Like they could maybe face you up and try to cross you over. They can handle the ball a little bit better, I think, and they’ve got a lot of guard things in their game. … When you’ve got a big man from the United States or wherever it may be, growing up we learn more dunks and stuff like that. They learn everything.’”
WEEI – [Interview with Jamal Mashburn] ‘What did you expect after Game 2?’ ‘Well, my basketball mind told me that the Los Angeles Lakers would possibly get two out of the three games in Boston. I was sold after Game 3, when Derek Fisher had his performance in the fourth quarter, but then the Celtics just took over, but I did not see this coming. It seemed like the whole series, each game has had a personality of its own. If Boston can put it together, as far as their stars showing up, as far as their bench players showing up, and their defense continues to be stingy, Game 6 looks like theirs for the taking. But I’m awfully nervous when Game 7 comes around and you have Kobe Bryant on your team. And I think the Celtics should look at Game 6 as being their Game 7.’”
Donna Goodison, Boston Herald – “Games 3 through 5 at TD Garden brought in an estimated $12 million for Hub businesses, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The $4 million per game excludes money doled out for tickets. ‘It’s a big score for Boston,’ said Pat Moscaritolo, the bureau’s CEO.”
The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Rich Levine, CSNNE – “‘I would say it was the toughest shots that I’ve ever seen somebody hit while I was on the court,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘It was like everything was — he was shooting fadeaway threes, fadeaway jumpers off the double‑team. You knew he was going to come out and be aggressive and try to carry his team. He’s a heck of a player. You’ve got to expect that from him.’ ‘When a player is in that kind of mode, man, you just put a hand up and you trap him and you do different things,’ said Kevin Garnett. ‘Other than that, you’re at their mercy.’ But as the points piled up, and Bryant’s legend grew, an interesting thing happened. The symbolism screamed louder than the 20,000 fans packed into the Garden. The juxtaposition was absolutely perfect. Over and over. Possession after possession. One vs. Five. Me vs. We. Kobe vs. the Celtics. And the Celtics were winning. Team was winning.”
Henry Abbott, ESPN TrueHoop – “A single win from an NBA championship, Rivers is prepared to joke about what a poor job his team — which has both Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace a single technical foul from an automatic one-game suspension — has done keeping level-headed. ‘That tells you how screwed up we are,’ says Rivers with a wry smile. ‘Kevin Garnett is calming our team down. It’s funny now, but it was Kevin and Tony Allen in the huddle telling everyone to calm down. I jokingly told [assistant coach] Armond [Hill] this is a crazy basketball team right here.’ Rivers finally concludes: ‘I don’t know if calming down and us goes together.’”
Bill Plaschke, LA Times – “So this is what the wall looks like. Sickly green, bulging with elbows, dripping with sweat, a solid sheet of basketball will. So this is how the Lakers look with backs flattened against it. Kobe Bryant screaming, Ron Artest bricking, Pau Gasol disappearing, Andrew Bynum limping, Lamar Odom smiling? ‘We’ll respond,’ he said. You will? How? If the Lakers’ answer is anything like it was on this steamroller of a Sunday night at TD Garden, they will soon end their season with a loud and pronounced cry of uncle.”
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe – “Doc Rivers knew there was a Kobe Bryant bomb planted somewhere in this series. ‘I hope so,’ he said after watching the maestro score 23 consecutive Lakers points in this one, beginning with the last 4 of the second quarter and the first 19 of the second half. ‘It’s amazing what that does to your team. We’re up 12, and I’ve got to call a timeout to settle down our guys.’ It was a great show, all right. But it’s just a footnote in Lakers history. Despite those 23 straight, and despite his series-high 38, the Celtics were once again a far better T-E-A-M, and with last night’s 92-86 victory they will head back to Los Angeles one game from another NBA championship. More and more the story of this series is the breadth and depth of the Celtics, who have not relied on any one, two, or even five players to grab this 3-2 series lead.”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “”From the standpoint that he’s providing points for his team and he’s in a rhythm, it’s a bit dangerous,” Garnett said. “But for the rhythm of his team, then it works in our favor. I can’t even come up with any kind of words because his flow is just deliberate. He was very keen on what he wanted to do; he got the shots that he wanted. I thought the second half he was really keen and hitting 3s. He was in a nice rhythm. ‘I thought for the most part we pretty much controlled everybody else, but in that scenario you put your hand up and play the best [defense] that you can. Strategically, all our defensive schemes and stuff that we have, you just hope that he misses.’ He hardly did, connecting on seven of nine shots overall in the frame for half of his game-high 38 points. But it didn’t matter. The supporting cast was 3-of-10 for seven points with only two other players generating buckets. Meanwhile, Boston combined for 12-of-19 shooting for 28 points with five contributors. ‘They played with more tenacity than we did in that stretch,’ Bryant said. ‘And we have to do a much better job Game 6.’ It’s clear Los Angeles can’t win if it’s five against one. It’s simply not a fair battle. Even if it’s the best shooter in the world.”
Arash Markazi, ESPN Los Angeles – “‘I thought we played pretty well,’ said Artest, who had 7 points, on 2-of-9 shooting, and two rebounds. ‘The games that we lost here, they were close. It wasn’t like a couple years ago where the game was a blowout. We played good. We played tough on the road. We played some competitive games.’ While reporters surrounded his locker, Artest sat in silence and perused the post-game stat sheet. He dragged his finger across Kobe Bryant’s 38-point line and looked at the other numbers on the page before putting it down and looking up. ‘No matter what it says on this stat sheet we did it together,’ Artest said. ‘We did all this together.’”
J.A. Adande, ESPN – “With the NBA Finals hanging in the balance, the Celtics put the basic premise they carried into this series — that if they made Kobe work for his shots, he couldn’t beat them by himself — to the ultimate test, and they prevailed. For those who were waiting to see Bryant break loose, to have the kind of outburst you expect from him (similar to what you expect when menacing dark clouds with sheet-lightning flashes are gathering overhead), you got your answer. He scored 19 points in the third quarter and even had the Celtics players asking their coaches to switch their strategy against him. And after the downpour ceased and the skies cleared, the Celtics had actually increased their halftime lead from six to eight. While Kobe had a galactic quarter, the rest of the Lakers were the exact opposite of our closest star: They came east and sank toward the horizon. So now Phil Jackson is in a quandary. Does he attempt to ask Bryant to carry the Lakers again, when that hasn’t proved to be effective against the Celtics? Or does he ask more from the rest of the team, when they haven’t played consistently? We know now, definitively, the Lakers will need a collective effort. One player might take a game off the Celtics, as Dwyane Wade did in the fourth game of the first round or LeBron James did in the third outing of the conference semis. But the Lakers are behind 3-2 in the series and need to win twice.”
Marc Spears, Yahoo! Sports – “Even the Celtics felt Pierce’s fury. With time running down in the second quarter, Rajon Rondo looked toward Ray Allen on the left wing instead of giving the ball to Pierce for the final shot of the half. Pierce angrily turned the other way and appeared to start walking off the floor as Rondo threw up a wild shot at the buzzer. Rondo darted toward Pierce afterward and the two exchanged words. Pierce later apologized to Rondo in the locker room. ‘It was nothing,’ Pierce said. ‘I told Rajon at halftime I had a couple buckets going and I wanted the ball and he wanted to do something different, and I was a little upset at that. Hey, he’s our point guard and I trust him. He’s made so many great plays for us throughout the year and throughout the playoffs. It was nothing. We’ve got spats with our team all the time. We always have spats. But the good thing about it is we always clean it up.’”
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “In the past two Celtics’ victories, each being a must-win, Pierce converted 19 of 33 shots for 46 points after scoring 49 in the first three games. Now, he has put himself in position to do something very few players have the opportunity to accomplish; win an NBA title in his hometown. He has two chances to cement himself as the boogeyman, a bugaboo in Los Angeles each time he steps off the plane at LAX. It will require another special performance, another somewhat selfish night in which he demands the ball and gets visibly furious at his teammates when he doesn’t get the ball in his sweet spot. Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes Pierce needs to be a jerk when he is hot. He can’t always be a team player and distribute the ball, not when the elbow jumper is falling, not when he takes his burly body and dives into the chests of defenders to create space and drains those 17-footers.”
Chris Sheridan, ESPN – “The Celtics’ collective energy was head and shoulders above the Lakers’ throughout the evening (except for Bryant’s third quarter), and from a tactical standpoint, a precision standpoint, an execution standpoint, Boston was just flat-out better. But the C’s were sloppy at times and knock-kneed toward the end, allowing Los Angeles to stay within reach on a night when the Lakers’ turnover total (14) surpassed their number of assists (12). ‘I thought we had a spirited locker room at the end of our [postgame] session there,’ said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whose 47-0 record when his team wins Game 1 of a best-of-seven series is in jeopardy. ‘They had a couple things fall into place, and we felt pretty good about our comeback and the way we played at the end of the game. We’re upbeat about going into [Game 6].’ If there is a stretch the Lakers can point to as the one in which this game was lost, it would be the third quarter, when the Celtics scored on 11 of their first 12 possessions to neutralize what Bryant was doing in hitting shots from all angles with varying degrees of difficulty. For more than a week, Rivers had been hammering home the point that a Kobe moment was going to happen and that the Celtics were going to have to withstand it. That they did, but it was an uncomfortable final four minutes until the Garnett-to-Pierce-to-Rondo play gave them some breathing room.”
T.J. Simers, LA Times – “Over the years it doesn’t always mean the Lakers are going to win when Our Ball Hog loses sight of everyone else, but you’ve got to admit it’s the best in basketball entertainment. In addition to scoring, he’s also going to give dirty looks to any teammate who doesn’t get him the ball, which is good for a chuckle if you’re watching. And tell me you didn’t grin or laugh when TV caught him coaching, pointing to himself and insisting he be the one to cover Paul Pierce. Later, I heard he wanted to fly the plane home, too. Our Ball Hog took 27 shots, maybe some of them were forced, but that’s become a part of his game. He scored 38 points, the reason folks watch the NBA to see the game’s best score. I know Phil Jackson likes to emphasize teamwork and all that other nonsense that makes a coach think he has an impact on the game, but I expect we won’t know how he really feels about Our Ball Hog until his next book. For now, he said, ‘he’s the kind of guy you ride a hot hand, that’s for sure.’ And ‘we were waiting for him to do that. ‘But then as he often does, he offered contradictory remarks. He said, ‘You know, other than that, you look at the assists, we had 12; they had 21. That’s a big differential in a game like this.’ And that’s because the ball was in Our Ball Hog’s hands and he wasn’t giving it up.”
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports – “The big deal is unmistakable: The Lakers need to get tougher, stronger and smarter to beat Boston. Yes, they’ve regressed, Bryant confessed. Milk-carton defense, he called it. For that to happen this deep into the Finals, against this team, it was downright disconcerting to the best player on the planet. He was walking toward the bus Sunday night, on his way out of the Garden and back to L.A. for Game 6, trying to come back on a championship series, on a Celtics franchise that has been the bane of these Lakers for 50 years. All that screaming in the locker room, all that angst over a Game 5 that felt like ’08 again, and Bryant stopped walking and stood for a moment. He had to start building back these Lakers, building back the fragility of a defending champion on the brink of elimination. His eyes narrowed now, his lips stiffened, and Kobe Bryant would say late in this chase for a back-to-back championship, ‘Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that [bleep].’ Two games in Staples Center and two final chances for Bryant’s wrath to deliver these Los Angeles Lakers an epic NBA title. All the cursing, all the screaming, was finally done as Bryant walked calmly, quietly to the purring bus. His words still hung inside the Garden, though. Still loomed over these Lakers. Someone has to make a stand with Kobe Bryant. Someone has to fight to save a championship season.”
Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles – “Two lapses Sunday sum it all up for L.A. The first came against Rajon Rondo in the final minute. With 38.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and after they had cut a 13-point deficit down to just five, the Lakers employed a full-court press. But the didn’t include anyone back as the deep man, protecting against a homerun pass. Paul Pierce leaked out towards half court, Kevin Garnett lobbed the ball to him, Rajon Rondo streaked ahead and Pierce whipped it out to Rondo for a fastbreak layup to extend the lead to seven points. In the second lapse, the Lakers later were able to cut the lead to five again, but this time allowed Rondo (a 61 percent free throw shooter in the playoffs) to work 10.2 seconds off the clock without being fouled, and to get the ball to Ray Allen (who shoots 86 percent from the charity stripe), who ended up taking the foul with 18.4 seconds left and hitting two free throws to put Boston back up by seven. ‘It was a critical time for us to get stops and run as a team and for guys to get into it,’ Lamar Odom, who had two of the Lakers’ nine steals, said. ‘We just couldn’t get none. Tonight was a game where if we’re getting stops, we would be talking about how Kobe got into it and how everybody else kind of followed after that, but we couldn’t get stops. It’s always the defensive end. This is the NBA Finals. You talk about the Super Bowl, the World [Series], in baseball it’s pitching and defense, defense, defense. It’s always the defensive end. We have enough guys that can score and play. It’s always the defense.’”
John Hollinger, ESPN – “Unfortunately for Bryant, his flurry came in a losing effort, thanks in equal parts to the no-show from his teammates and the equally torrid shooting of Pierce. The MVP of the 2008 Finals scored 27 points of his own and topped it with a spectacular falling-out-of-bounds assist to Rajon Rondo for a game-clinching layup with 35 seconds left. Pierce made two layups, but those were his only makes in the paint; like Bryant, the majority of his output came from distance, especially middle distance. Pierce’s other 10 baskets came from outside the paint, and he drew his only free throws on a runner contested by Bryant in the fourth quarter. ‘Paul was terrific,’ Rivers said. ‘He attacked all night. He did it through the offense, he did it through isos, he did it in pick-and-rolls.’ For the night, Pierce was 10-of-17 from outside the paint, including 8-of-13 on long 2s. That’s an unusually high conversion rate for anybody, even a shooter as good as Pierce.”
Mark Heisler, LA Times – “Those icy fingers up and down your spine… Or around your throat. No, it’s not witchcraft, just the Celtics, as usual. With Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom getting ever fainter until they looked like ghosts, and Ron Artest getting ever dizzier until he looked like a purple tornado, the Lakers capped a long bad week with Sunday’s 92-86 loss in Game 5, one of the great face-plants in a history replete with comic opera moments. Before the Celtics invited them back into the game, the Lakers gave it away with a third quarter in which everything they had accomplished this postseason went up in flames. While Kobe Bryant went off as only he and a few others in the game’s history could, scoring 19 of his 38 points in the third quarter, the Lakers let the Celtics score on 12 of the first 13 possessions. Four of the Celtics’ baskets came after missing shots. In other words, the Celtics made it or, when they missed, got it back and put it up again until it went in. Forget getting a rebound, the Lakers may not have touched one for the first eight minutes of the third quarter.”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “‘This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than any other team,’ Jackson told his charges during a fourth-quarter timeout. ‘They know how to lose.’ Pierce shrugged. ‘Well, he’s right,’ Pierce said of one of his team’s greatest regular-season flaws. ‘That’s been the truth for us throughout the regular season. I haven’t really seen too much of that in the playoffs, but coaches say things to try to motivate their team. I probably would say the same thing if I was a coach in the same situation. It doesn’t bother me at all.’ That’s especially true when said coach is proven wrong.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Last night, to get his team to resist the urge to fight off the one-man army that was Bryant, Rivers reminded his team that the key words were ‘one man.’ ‘What we talked about before the game, you could see they wanted to change the defense, they wanted to start trapping, and I just tried to keep telling them, it’s only 2 points each time he scores,’ Rivers said. ‘It’s not 10. It’s just like if someone else was scoring. As long as we were going to keep scoring the way we were scoring, we were going to be good. But it makes you question your defense because he was terrific.’ Pierce was the Celtics’ answer for Bryant, particularly in the third quarter, when he scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The difference, though, was Pierce had reinforcements. The Celtics shot 56.3 percent from the floor. Bryant went 13 for 27 but while he went on his tear, his teammates seemed to go missing (a combined 18 of 51). Pierce did not see it as a game of one-on-one. ‘As far as Kobe going at it, I wasn’t in no personal duel with him,’ Pierce said. ‘I really didn’t even take the notice that we were going, I guess, back and forth at the time. I’m out there trying to help my ball club to win. Kobe is doing what he does for his ball club. He has to score the ball night in and night out. He makes tough shots, and he’s a proven winner. I wasn’t in the one-on-one deal with Kobe at all.’”
Gary Dzen, Boston Globe – “‘We had a timeout,’ said Celtics coach Rivers. ‘We had one timeout. I didn’t want to use it because we could advance the ball with the time out. So we were going to count to four, and if Kevin didn’t have anybody open, I was going to call it. Before I could get there, I see the ball in the air.’ Garnett threw the pass to Pierce near the same sideline on which he was standing. Pierce jumped in the air like a wide-receiver running an out pattern. He caught the ball under pressure from a Lakers defender, and — unlike a wide receiver — threw another pass to a cutting Rajon Rondo for a layup that would put the Celtics up seven. ‘I was just showing off my Randy Moss and my Tom Brady in one play,’ said Pierce. ‘Going up to catch it, then I went to my Brady mode when I was falling out of bounds to find Rondo for the receiving end.’”
Kevin Ding, Orange County Register – “Maybe the Lakers rally at home to win this NBA championship, maybe not. Either way, there will come a time next spring when they’re sitting in a foreign locker room and their stomachs are churning a bit with the pressure of having to win a pivotal road playoff game. And at that moment, Kobe Bryant can rightly turn to his shaggy-headed Lakers co-star and say: ‘You owe me something, Spaniard. Now show me something.’ That’s because Pau Gasol, for all his sweet skills and how pivotal he has been to the Lakers’ greatness these past three years, has been passive, indecisive and – yes – soft when the pressure is on, the footing is unfamiliar and the faces are even more so. Gasol faltered yet again Sunday night on the road and in the clutch, pushing the Lakers to a 3-2 NBA Finals deficit.”
Monique Walker, Boston Globe – “Back-to-back losses follow the Lakers back to Los Angeles, where the Celtics can clinch tomorrow night at Staples Center. If there were any lingering emotion from the Lakers losing the NBA Finals to the Celtics in 2008, Bryant didn’t want to hear about it. ‘Just man up and play,’ Bryant said. ‘What the hell is the big deal? I don’t see it as a big deal. If I have to say something to them, then we don’t deserve to be champions. We’re down, 3-2, go home, win one game, go into the next one. Simple as that.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “‘Yeah, you can be provocative and get out there and act kind of like they do if you want to and get in people’s faces and do that,’ he said. ‘But that’s not the way I like to coach a team. That’s not what I consider positive coaching, and that’s (not) what I like to think is the right way to do things.’ Jackson later praised Rivers for the way he exploited matchups and got his team ready for the playoffs. But he joked that he was supposed to ‘downplay’ his adversary. He wrapped up by saying, ‘Is that enough for you? I’ll give him a gold star.’ Gamesmanship aside, one might think Rivers would be bothered by the inferences that he coaches his team to act improperly. But if he is, he’s not saying. ‘I just think he’s making a point,’ Rivers said of Jackson. ‘I don’t think he’s making it toward me. And even if he is, I could care less.’”
Paul Flannery, WEEI – “They survived the ‘Kobe game’ that they knew was coming. They fought with each other at times and the Lakers at others. They got great shots and made them, and they gave away possessions carelessly. It was frantic, emotional, sloppy, beautiful and ugly and sometimes all of the above in the same possession. Just like this series. The 2009-10 Celtics won’t be back in the Garden anymore this season, but they left the faithful with optimism and hope that somehow, someway they can pull off this remarkable postseason turnaround. It won’t be easy, and it probably won’t resemble any of the games that have come before it, but the Celtics now have two chances to win one game and an improbable championship.”
Bob Hohler, Boston Globe – “Rondo drew criticism from Rivers only for overreacting to Artest giving Garnett a little extra shove on a foul in the first half, knocking Garnett to the floor. Rondo responded by shoving Artest and drawing a technical foul. Rondo’s view: ‘In Kevin’s defense, I pushed him back.’ His coach’s opinion: ‘I don’t like that stuff. Let’s just play . . . If you want to show toughness, toughness is walking away from all the other stuff.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Kendrick Perkins disagreed. ‘I think Doc kind of got mad at him,’ Perkins said. ‘But I told Doc that was the right play that he made. A hard foul on Kevin, and he retaliated. He’s taking up for his big man. It’s many ways to have an effect on the game. That could have taken Artest out the game, just having Rondo push him from behind. You never know how that could affect him.’ Garnett said it was simply part of the game. ‘At the end of the day it’s basketball,’ Garnett said. ‘We’re not out here boxing. Everybody has played tough when it’s out here with three refs and a crowd full of people. We try to just tell everybody to control their emotions and protect one another, but you know, the way they call the game and the way they hand fines out and flagrants, all that goes out the window to be honest.’”
Kirk Minihane, WEEI – “Artest nearly fell down following the shove, which ABC color analyst Jeff Van Gundy found hard to believe, given the size difference between the two players. ‘Oh, he didn’t even shove him,’ Van Gundy said while watching the replay. ‘Oh, come on. He didn’t push him, he put his hand on him. This is another sell job. This guy [Rondo] weighs 112 pounds, and Artest weighs 280 pounds.’ Rondo was asked if he felt that Artest had ‘flopped’ on the push. ‘I’m not that strong,’ Rondo said. ‘He sold it a little bit. He’s probably the strongest guy on the court in this series. I’ve been lifting a little bit, but other than that I didn’t push him that hard.’”
Monique Walker, Boston Globe – “Meanwhile, Bynum played 32 minutes after getting his troublesome right knee drained for the second time this series. Bynum had 6 points, but just one rebound. ‘More than anything else, Andrew was out of rhythm in the game,’ said coach Phil Jackson. ‘I think he’ll feel much more comfortable getting back and playing. He’s really only played limited minutes since Tuesday night, so we anticipate that he’ll have some opportunity to get himself out there, shoot the ball a little bit, and give us more than just a big body in the sixth game.’”