After collapse, slick Fish heads off disaster by filling the hole to save the Lakes, while Wooden inspires massive BP (Bruin Pride) to surface, and it caps off the ‘Cats, and floats UCLA Softball to the top
Every year, some ungrateful Laker fans complain to Phil Jackson via the Internet and Talk Radio that Derek Fisher is past his prime, and should be benched or retired. And every year, Derek Fisher makes those fans eat their words. In other words, it may be a little too early to throw out the old Fish.
Once again, Derek Fisher came to the rescue of the Los Angeles Lakers in a crucial Postseason game. In the 4th Quarter of Game 3 on Tuesday night, after the Lakers and a laboring Kobe Bryant had blown all but 1 point of their 17-point, 2nd Quarter lead, Fisher absolutely took over the game. Fisher scored 11 of his 16 points in the final period, including an unbeliveable three-point play while getting crushed by a Celtics’ triple-team on a one-man fast break. The “and 1” gave the Lakers a 7-point lead with 46 seconds left, and was the de facto dagger, since Boston couldn’t hit any outside shots to get back in it.
Fisher HAD to take over, because no one else on the Lakers was hot. The Celtics were methodically cutting into the lead, and in the 4th Quarter, when Kobe tried to do it himself, he threw up four straight bricks. Kobe scored 29, but he took 29 shots to get it, and that’s the most he’s attempted all Postseason. He MADE UP for his off-shooting night with hustle, Defense, and Leadership, but those first 4 shots in the 4th looked like Shaq Free Throws. Phil Jackson said that Kobe must have been really tired. Kobe finally broke the drought with a short and sweet jumper that gave the Lakers a 4-point lead with just under 2 minutes left. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom each added one crucial bucket during the Celtics’ frantic comeback attempt. Gasol had a Double-Double with 13 and 11, and Odom tallied 12 Points off the bench, as Andrew Bynum tweaked his knee a little bit, so Jackson relied — successfully — a little more on Lamar. Odom is a tough match-up for Boston when he’s “on,” as borne out by the fact that the Lakers were PLUS FOURTEEN while Odom was in the game, the highest Point Differential number for anyone in the game.
Odom led the Lakers bench to 22 points, as everyone who played, scored. Jordan Farmar was 1-2, with a nice short bank shot that gave the Lakers a 15-point lead, their biggest of the game at the time. Farmar got only 7 minutes, but that’s 7 more than the Celtics’ ex-trojan, Brian Scalabrine, who was NOT on Boston’s ACTIVE Roster for Game 3. Two Celtic bench players not named Scalabrine did have great games: Glen Big Baby Davis scored a dozen, and brought more energy than anyone on the court, and Tony Allen got it done on both ends of the floor, harassing Kobe on D, and getting to the hoop a couple of times during the C’s comeback.
But it wasn’t nearly enough for Boston, because of the frigidity of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Even Scalabrine would have done better than Ray Allen, who in Game 2 set an all-time NBA Finals Record with EIGHT Three-pointers, but on Tuesday night, scored only 2 points, going 0-for-13 from the field, and 0-for-8 from behind the arc. Allen missed the record for Sucking in the Finals by only 1 shot. As it is, it’s the biggest negative turnaround in History — too bad he couldn’t get the Record as a perfect bookend. And he actually blew an uncontested lay-up late in the game, but it DIDN’T COUNT because the whistle blew prior to the shot.
Despite Allen’s near-historical struggles, his Head Coach Doc Rivers still called a play for him in crunch time. In fact, Allen missed two shots down the stretch that could have kept Boston alive. After the game, Rivers said that Allen must have been tired, because all of his misses were short. Too bad for Celtics fans that Rivers didn’t notice this until after the game.
And Allen wasn’t the only Celtic to suck during Game 3. Arrogant bigmouth Paul Pierce missed his first five shots, went 5-12 on the night, and only 2-for-8 from inside the arc. He also grabbed a total of TWO Rebounds, as Foul Trouble kept him from being his aggressive self. Thanks to his own poor play, his prediction of this Series not coming back to L.A. may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but not in the way he had in mind.
If it weren’t for Kevin Garnett, the Celtics wouldn’t have even come close in Game 3. KG responded to criticism of his play in L.A. with 25 points, including several early nifty buckets against a tenacious Gasol, and one late twisting baseline shot that had Boston knocking on the door. If Garnett maintains this level of play, and Allen and Pierce revert to form, the desperate Celtics would dominate Games 4 and 5 in Boston. But now that the Lakers have re-taken Home Court Advantage, all they have to do is hold on in Games 6 & 7 at Staples… if necessary.
What was NOT necessary was a Game 3 of the Women’s College World Series Finals, since the UCLA Bruins just won it all in Game 2! All year long, the team had been channelling the ideals of John Wooden, and his passing last week just strengthened their resolve. Clad with black “JRW” wristbands, the Bruins re-wrote the Record Book with their 15-9 thrashing of the Arizona Wildcats.
MVP Megan Langenfeld opened the onslaught with a 2-Run Homer, which gave her 4 during the World Series, which is a Record. Later, Andrea Harrison hit a Grand Slam, which was HER 4th HR of the World Series, and and gave her 11 RBI’s, also a Record. The Bruins were up 7-1, but Arizona — who would have had to win a Game 3 also to win it all — came back and made it interesting. But just when Bruin fans were getting nervous, UCLA erupted again and put the game away, completing their Undefeated PostSeason.
The Title is the Bruin Softball Program’s 11th NCAA Championship, and it puts UCLA’s Total at a National Best 106. And you can definitely count #106 as part of the Wooden Legacy.
Speaking of Legacies, not all legacies are good. Here are a few of my photos that started out real, but have been slightly manipulated to drive home the gravity of the situation in the Gulf, which the opening headline of this article was not meant to belittle…