Thursday, June 24, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
Dear readers, as you well know, the final chapter of the NBA 2009-2010 playoffs was written Thursday night in Los Angeles. Your last edition of this paper was put in your hands just as a day after the sixth game in the best of seven was played. It is easy to remember that prior to that all-important game, the two best teams in this season’s NBA had been going tit-for-tat. First it was L.A. then it was Boston, L.A. and then Boston, and that went on until each had won a pair of games.
And then (as they used to say in the old “ Along Came Jones” western movies), the Celtics stopped the pulse of the entire watching world June 13 when they stopped the Lakers at the pass, taking game five and going one up at 3-2. Boston knew the series was flopping back to L.A. and as imbued with the intrepid spirit as they were, and have been all season, they took it in stride. And therein could lay the rub.
Were the “Shamrock Boys” so buoyed up by the win on their home court that they felt that it was a small chore to take a game six and end the series and grab their 18th title at 4-2? What was the Lakers’ mindset? They knew that back at the Staples Center, every basketball notable, especially those who had worn the purple and gold before, would be there watching and waiting. Would the Lakers move to within one game of the most elusive record in professional basketball?
It belongs to history now. Game six belonged to the Lakers, 89-67. The 22-point victory was dubbed a lopsided demoralizing testimonial to the toughness of L.A. Others stated it moved Kobe Bryant closer to the top of the list of the NBA’s all-time best players. Bryant did pick up his second consecutive MVP and his 27-point average moves him into fourth place all time. Bryant, hampered by injuries (index finger, right knee and left ankle) missed nine regular season games.
There was a barrel of fans who did not want L.A. to win (this writer is one), and none was shy about voicing their disappointment. Most named number 24 as the primary reason.
However, paying homage where it is due. There were others on the team who made outstanding contributions. Derek Fisher, written about many times in this column about his playoffs heroics (has played in 413 regular season games, second all time), hit the trey with 6:12 left to give the Lakers the 64-64 tie in when they had been down by 13 and went into the fourth still four shy.
Ron Artest, who created a bad taste in the mouth of many L.A. fans when he was signed to a $34 million free agency contract last summer, showed up big in game seven with 20 points, five rebounds and three steals. And the big men, Pau Gasol and Andy Bynum, are always there when needed – and the name one never really hears (or remembers), Sasha Vujacic, whose free throw precision is as deadly as Robin Hood’s arrow.
Will there be a three-peat? Does one really think that number 24 would pass up a chance for a try at that? Not likely.
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