Game 2: What’s My Name?
It took Phil Jackson one (unrelated) question to address the huge elephant in the room: “When Leon ‘Pow’ takes more free throws in 14 minutes than your team does in the entire game…” You have to forgive Jackson for pretending to not to know the young man’s name. The PA guy only bellowed “Leon Poooooowe” on 10 different occasions and the fans didn’t start chanting his name until he went coast-to-coast for a dunk while the rest of the Lakers sat back and watched.
There’s no question that the Celtics are in the Lakers’ heads. They spent the weekend whispering about Paul Pierce‘s injury, while Jackson benched Lamar Odom for the entire fourth quarter saying he was “confused.” And now, Leon Powe (rhymes with “show,” Phil) is turning into Marvin Barnes (before the bad stuff started happening).
1. Despite his annoying habit of whining about the officials whenever things don’t go his way, Jackson did have a point. As mentioned numerous times in this space the officiating has been dreadfully inconsistent from one game to the next. Jackson talked about the Lakers needing to create the “illusion” of contact. When Leon goes up to the basket there is no illusion, he takes down everyone but the cameraman. It’s not that the Celtics got more calls last night, it’s that the Lakers didn’t get as many. Still, while the free throws were a preposterous 38-10 for the C’s, the fouls were only 28-21.
2. Don’t fret too much about that furious Laker comeback. With about three minutes to go, the C’s were still up by 16 points, but that’s what happens when the team with the lead tries to run out the clock and the other side makes every shot in sight. For 45 minutes or so, the only question was whether Gino (RIP) would make an appearance before the final buzzer. The last three minutes, and the free-throw discrepancy, gave off the vibe that the Lakers got screwed. They didn’t. They got run of the gym.
3. From the What Game Were You Watching Dept: Someone asked Doc Rivers about Rajon Rondo’s reluctance to shoot last night. That was the same Rajon Rondo who dished out 16 assists against only two turnovers in 42 minutes. If the NBA counted assists for passes that led to free throw attempts (and why don’t they, exactly?) Rondo would have set a single-game Finals record.
4. The 9 p.m. tip-off time is ridiculous on so many levels that even Commissioner David Stern had to concede that the Sunday game maybe should have started at 7. Can people stop pretending that he has any say in the matter? Stern long ago sold the league’s soul to the television networks.
5. While the Celtics struggled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, many longtime NBA observers shook their heads and very sagely said that’s why teams who haven’t been together very long rarely win in the playoffs. Funny how no one was saying that about the Lakers, even though they have been together for an even shorter amount of time. This is their first real taste of adversity, and benching their third best player and crying about the refs does not bode well for them.