Lakers play with sense of urgency to blow out listless Celtics by 22, setting up only the third Finals Game 7 in 21 years (take that, Conspiracy Theorists)
The 2010 NBA Finals is now a Best-of-1 Series. And the Referees did not make it so. Once again, “wanting it more” was the clear difference in a game between the Lakers and the Celtics. With their backs to the wall down 2-3, Los Angeles played Game 6 with passion and a cool desperation. They took it to the Celtics starting about 4 minutes into the game, controlling the Boards, owning the Paint, diving for loose balls, and simply “out-efforting” Boston on almost every possession. The Lakers built a 10-point lead by the end of one period, and they doubled that by Halftime.
The 2nd Quarter belonged to L.A. because the Effort Difference extended to both benches. At one point, the Laker bench had outscored Boston’s 24-0. Lamar Odom showed up, with 8 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks and a Steal, and every time Lamar has a good game, the Lakers triumph. Odom got help off the pine, from Sasha Vujacic who hit 2 Three’s, from Shannon Brown, who had two highlight reel dunks including one on an alley oop where Brown got higher than Woody Harrelson, and from UCLA’s Jordan Farmar. Farmar was running the Lakers when they broke the game open, and he contributed two Sportscenter highlights as well: He had one beautifully-athletic driving lay-up, and later, finshed a fast break with a flying dunk… with Kevin Garnett defending.
Farmar’s defense also was stellar, helping force Rajon Rondo and Nate Robinson to go a combined 7-for-23 from the floor. The Lakers’ Team’s Defense was active and tenacious all night. Not only did they contest all the shooters, they also got into passing lanes, deflecting passes and disrupting the Celtic’s Offensive flow. Boston ended up shooting 33%, and 22% from 3-point land, and they never scored more than 20 in any Quarter. Not only that, but Boston’s total of 67 Points was the 2nd lowest in Finals History.
The Lakers’ Defensive pressure took the spirit out of the Celtics, who missed open shots too. They actually missed THREE uncontested lay-ups in the first few minutes of the 3rd period. The Lakers’ 20-point Halftime lead got up to 27, and never got threatened at all, as the Celtics failed to make a substantial run all game. The Lakers cruised to an 89-67 victory, setting the stage for an epic Game 7, where you can bet the Celtics’ effort will return.
For those of you who think that the League, the Networks, and the Refs have it all worked out to go Seven — This game was never close enough for the Refs to have any impact whatsoever. But a more damning argument against you is History: Thursday’s battle will be only the THIRD time in 21 years that the Finals have gone the distance. If the “fix was in,” it would happen more than once every seven years.
In this Game 6, the Refs’ only effect was to take Derek Fisher out of the game. Fisher played only 15 minutes because of foul trouble, but Brown and Farmar picked up the slack. Fisher was really the only Laker starter who didn’t hurt Boston on Tuesday: Ron Artest scored early and often, and definitely made the Lakers TOUGHER; Andrew Bynum was active and effective early, as the Lakers forged ahead, but then left the game and did not return; Pau Gasol was impressive in every facet of the game, missing a Triple-Double by only 1 Assist; and Kobe was Kobe, scoring 26, with 11 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 4 Steals. Aggressive early, at one point he was on pace to score 64. He might have to on Thursday.
These two teams are pretty close. Luckily for the Lakers, Home court advantage is crucial, especially to the Bench. You’ll notice that the truly great players are not affected by hostile crowds, so in general, the Starters are going to be less unnerved than the Reserves. It’s all about confidence. And since these teams are close in overall talent and desire, the Bench makes a big difference. And in L.A., the Lakers have the advantage. It’s nice to see a Bruin right in the middle of the issue being discussed during the NBA Finals. In Game 6, Farmar represented UCLA well. And if he can do it again in Game 7, he’ll have a second Ring to show for it.
Below are 11 photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad, in a tribute to Motivation Domination (and the hidden pop-up captions are Laker-Celtic related).