When your starting center goes down for good halfway
through the first quarter, that’s a pretty bad omen.
Christina Aguilera Since the night began with Christina's stunningly crappy rendition of the National Anthem, I figured I'd start this post by ragging on it. How could such a truly great singer mangle such an important song so very, very badly? I mean, she skipped entire words during her overly stylized warbling. It was like she was singing the Anthem while being violated by a gorilla with anger control issues. And she wasn't dressed nearly slutty enough to make up for it. As Mark Jackson would say: Christina Aguilera, you're better that that.
Here. Share my pain.
The Boston Celtics: I would like to officially congratulate the Los Angeles Lakers on winning the 2010 NBA championship. Wait, I'm sorry, what was that? They haven't won it yet, you say? Oh, well, my bad. I guess it just felt like they'd won it after the can of whup ass they put on the Celtics in Game 6.
Usually, holding the Lakers to 89 points on 41 percent shooting would mean good things. Unfortunately, Boston hit only 33 percent of their field goals and managed only 67 points. And here I thought Christina's singing was going to be the worst part of the night. Man, I've seen more lively performances from a lump of sod. Seriously, the Celtics were playing so poorly that Bill Russell -- whom I had been hoping would show up to inspire the troops -- actually walked out in disgust during the fourth quarter.
That's right, Celtics. You shamed Bill Russell. Shame on you.
And hey, the Celtics made history. The bad kind of history, that is. According to Elias Sports Bureau:
The Celtics blew a chance to win the NBA title with a 22-point loss to the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night. That ties the fourth largest margin of defeat for a team that was one win away from winning the NBA championship. The record for the largest margin of defeat in that situation is 35 by Seattle against Washington in 1978, followed by 33-point losses by the Lakers against Philadelphia in 1982 and against Indiana in 2000. The Knicks also lost by 22 points to the Lakers in a game in which they had a chance to wrap up the 1970 Finals. The good news for the Celtics -- three of those teams went on to win the title anyway (Seattle was the only team that didn't).
Thanks for the closing stat curse, Elias Sports Bureau.
Actually, in a lot of ways, this game reminded me of Game 1. The C's came out flat. After the first few minutes, I thought, "Boy, these guys could not look any flatter." Then Kendrick Perkins left the game with a knee injury and they proved me wrong. By the way, bad news for Celtics fans: An unnamed source says Perk is done. No worries, though! The Celtics still have Rasheed Wallace, who went 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown while finishing with more fouls (4) than rebounds (3)!
Anyway, back to the Game 1 comparison...the Celtics didn't show any real intensity or a sense of urgency, which was fairly shocking given the circumstances. After they lost Game 3 at home, Doc Rivers said that his team had adopted an "every game is a Game 7 to us" mentality. Well, last night's approach might not have won a Game 7 of the preseason. During a WIRED segment in the first half, Doc told his players they were being outworked. Then they went out and got outworked some more. The final rebounding margin -- 51-39 going the Lakers way -- doesn't reflect how badly the Beantowners were pimp-slapped on the boards. The first half numbers do though: The C's were outrebounded 30-13 during the first 24 minutes.
Basketbawful reader J.R. said: "Instead of actually describing the worthless effort put forth by the Celtics in Game 6, I instead offer this clip of Spinal Tap album reviews that pretty much capture the appropriate spirit. The two word review to the album "Shark Sandwich" is especially fitting for the Celtics Game 6 performance." And because I agree...
Look, Russell was right to walk out. The Celtics peformance was embarrassing bordering on pathetic. It's not the losing so much as the effort. When a team is one win away from a championship, don't you expect all-out, balls-to-the-wall effort from players 1 through 12?
Said Doc Rivers: "I thought we'd play better, obviously. I thought we were ready. ... We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place."
Added Allen: "We didn't get in any rhythm early, and it affects our chemistry. We each tried to make the home run play early. As a starting unit, we take responsibility. We have to do a better job next game."
Trust me, Ray, the starting unit shouldn't take all the responsibility...
The Boston bench: Remember how important these guys were in Boston's three victories? Remember how, after a dominant Game 4, Big Baby said he couldn't be denied? Remember how everybody who was anybody said the Celtics needed every bit of spark they got from their reserves?
Well, they sure didn't get it last night. Would you believe that, until Nate Robinson hit a bucket at the 9:58 mark of the fourth quarter, nobody other than Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen had scored a single point for the Celtics?
You read that correctly.
The Celtics' pine riders were so bad I was checking the official rules on NBA.com to figure out whether any of them could be traded mid-game. Due to the early loss of Perkins and extended garbage time, Boston's reserves logged 98 minutes. Yet they finished with only 13 points on 4-for-26 shooting. And remember, all 13 of those points came during the fourth quarter. What's more, they dished out only 3 assists...and Nate Robinson had all of them. And they combined for almost as many fouls (13) and turnovers (5) as rebounds (21).
Yep. This pretty much sums up Boston’s bench contributions in Game 6.
After outscoring the Lakers' bench in four of the first five games, the Celtics' reserves were practically invisible in Game 6. Through three quarters, the Lakers' starters had outscored the Celtics' starters by only one point (52-51). It was the Lakers' bench, led by 10-for-18 shooting (55.5 percent), that helped build a 25-point lead after three quarters.
Yup: Over the first 36 minutes, L.A.'s bench outscored their Boston counterparts 24-0.
And forget the numbers. The Lakers' reserves provided an incredible amount of energy and hustle. That, even more than their hot shooting, is what made the difference. That hustle was best symbolized by this play described by ESPN's John Hollinger:
It was just one play in a 22-point blowout, so let's not get carried away with its significance. Nonetheless, it symbolized the two meta-trends that enabled the Lakers' 89-67 waxing of Boston in Game 6, and in that sense it was a defining moment.
The play came when Jordan Farmar dove past the Celtics' Rajon Rondo to come up with a loose ball after the Lakers deflected a Rondo pass into the backcourt. From a prone position near the 3-point line, Farmar skidded the rock along the floor to Kobe Bryant, who drove the lane and drew a shooting foul. The two free throws began an 11-2 run that put L.A. up by 20 midway through the second quarter, and from there the rout was on.
"The ball was on the floor," said Farmar. "It's the NBA Finals in an all-or-nothing situation, so you've got to get to it. I saw Kobe out the corner of my eye so I dove and got it over to him."
Said Phil Jackson: "Historically benches are much more comfortable on their home floor. But the energy and the direction they had was what I was pleased with. I felt they were directed and they had an idea what they wanted to get accomplished out there on the floor. That was important."
Ron Artest's elbow versus Rajon Rondo’s jaw: Memo to all the Lakers homers who think that Rondo "ran into a stationary elbow," please rewatch the film and do a reality check.
Update! Kevin Garnett, poster boy: Is this the play that caused Mr. Russell to storm out? If not, it should have been.
Kobe Bryant, quote / not-tripping machine: "We're used to being in must-win situations. The way we look at it, [Game 7] is just a game we've got to win. ... I don't mean to be a buzzkill. I know what's at stake, but I'm not tripping."
Pau Gasol, quote machine / captain obvious: "We want to carry everything we did tonight to [Game 7], and then I think we'll be in a very good place to win."
Lamar Odom, quote machine, Part 1: "If somebody's breaking into your house and trying to hurt your family, you've got to switch your mindset, right?"
Ron Artest, quote / crazy machine: "I don't make history. It's not something that I need to worry about. Unless, Twitter starts making history. Then I can use my Twitter."
Lamar Odom, quote machine, Part 2: "I told Ron to come here for this, to be able to play on this stage, because he deserves it. It's too bad that sometimes we have times in our lives where we just get remembered for one thing. Ron is a heck of a person and a hell of a basketball player. He's loyal as hell. I told him that he deserves, the work that he put in, what he had to persevere through, he deserves to play basketball at this level, on this stage."
Jordan Farmar, quote machine: "I have a couple floor burns, I have a blister on my hand, I've got a few pains. That's how it's supposed to feel in an NBA Finals game."
Ray Allen, quote machine: "They did have more energy than us, they were home in their own building. I felt good myself, and I'd like to think everyone else felt good, so we can't use that as an excuse. Making the extra pass, making a play for your teammate -- that didn't really exist for us tonight. We didn't make their defense work at all, and we let their offense score easily."
Rajon Rondo, quote machine: "To me, the game is over. We have one game [left]. They have one game. All or nothing. [Game 6] is in the past."
Kendrick Perkins: Regarding whether he'll play in Game 7: "We'll see what's up tomorrow."
Tommy Heinsohn's Retirement Home presents the Game 6 lacktion report / lament / whatever: From Chris:
As the Boston Massacre occurred again -- this time at Staples Center -- Kendrick Perkins technically qualified for a Voskuhl in 6:30 by negating a board with a brick, rejection, foul and giveaway for a 2:1 ratio. Also earning big man ignominy was Rasheed Wallace, as the ball didn't lie after SEVEN bricks in 7:22 (six from Figueroa Street) and four fouls, only countered by 3 boards to slightly improve the statline to a 4:3 Voskuhl.
Shelden Williams also sauntered into a 4:3 ratio of fail by negating three boards with a pair each of fouls and giveaways in 14:06. And Michael Finley found himself in the ledger again with a brick from the Library Tower in 3:21 for a +1 suck differential.