Oklahoma City steals a game it had no business winning, putting L.A. in a 2-0 hole.
Well, Phil Jackson wouldn’t have lost this one.
A team with championship aspirations doesn’t blow a seven-point lead with two minutes and change to play.
The Los Angeles Lakers got run off the floor in Game 1, played dirty enough defense to win Game 2, but found a way to lose with foolish turnovers and late-game bricks.
They mucked it up defensively, holding the high-powered Thunder to 77 points. The Laker bigs were gigantic — well for a low-scoring game — with a combined 34 points and 20 rebounds for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, but shot poorly once again (nine for 25).
At least L.A. proved it could hang with OKC.
Oklahoma City hasn’t lost in the playoffs. The final scores of all its games:
Game 1 vs. Dallas: 99-98
Game 2 vs. Dallas: 102-99
Game 3 at Dallas: 95-79
Game 4 at Dallas: 103-97
Game 1 vs. Los Angeles: 119-90
Game 2 vs. Los Angeles: 77-75
Coach Mike Brown made the necessary adjustments to make a game of it. For a veteran team to fold the way it did, well, that doesn’t look good for a championship team.
“We’re better than Santa Claus,” Bynum said. “We like giving out gifts. We give out games, contracts and rings.”
Kevin Durant was held to 22 points; Russell Westbrook had 15.
This doesn’t have the feel of a Lakers championship squad. Their bench play has been worthless and midseason pickup Ramon Sessions had another Derek Fisher-like game with two points, four rebounds and no assists.
Good teams make a final push the way OKC did. Of course, it was helped by the Lakers’ pathetic play down the stretch.
Durant, despite taking only 15 shots as he was hounded by Metta World Peace, became a hero by nailing the go-ahead basket with 18 seconds to play. He was helped immensely by Kendrick Perkins’ highly illegal screen. If those things are called like they’re supposed to, who knows what happens in this game.
In fact, that call was made earlier in the week, just not in this series …
Nice Try, No. 8
… Thanks to an illegal Kevin Garnett screen, Philadelphia, the No. 8 seed in the East, stole home-court advantage in its series against the Boston Celtics.
The 76ers gave it right back after laying an egg in Game 3 last night, losing 107-91.
Boston’s top three players shredded the Sixers. Garnett made up for that costly screen with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Paul Pierce was truthful as always with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Point guard Rajon Rondo controlled the pace of the game with 23 points and 14 assists.
Coach Doug Collins is maximizing his players’ effort. There’s only so much he can do, however. His team is playing with house money since it probably shouldn’t be in the second round. Chicago barely had enough players to suit up, paving the way for a Boston beatdown in round two.
The C’s have woken up. Will the Sixers win another game?
Larry Legend Strikes Again
He tormented the Lakers as a player, led the Indiana Pacers to the NBA Finals as a coach and has now brought that team back to the playoffs as an executive.
Larry Bird has done it all in basketball and now he’s the first person to win MVP, Coach of the Year and as of yesterday, Executive of the Year.
If you don’t know what Bird did as a player then you don’t know basketball. For those few who are uninformed, Bird won three NBA titles with the Celtics, earned three regular season MVPs and was a 12-time All-Star.
He was named Coach of the Year in 1998 with the Pacers, leading them to the Finals in 2000 before getting stopped by the dynamic duo of Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Now he has rebuilt a Pacers franchise that had been in turmoil since the Brawl. You know, Ron Artest beating up people in the crowd.
Through the draft, Bird nabbed starters Paul George, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert. Granger and Hibbert have been All-Stars. He signed David West through free agency.
The Pacers are giving the Miami Heat fits in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Indiana stole home-court advantage with a Game 2 win on Tuesday.
What more can Bird do? Nobody could hit three-pointers the way No. 33 could. In the video game “NBA Jam: On Fire Edition,” Bird has a 10 rating on three-pointers. Seemingly every shot goes in.
In real life, Bird’s decisions usually work out, whether it’s drafting players, coaching guys up or being a pain in the rear end of the Lakers.