This is a massive accounting of game 5. To skip ahead to the game wrap up, click here. To wallow in the semi-live blog description of the game action, read on.
Fisher flopping around early draws a bad call on Garnett for a moving screen and another bad call on Pierce for blocking his shot. JVG called the refs out for falling for it, saying that Fisher has spasmed like a sniper took him out on every contested play for 16 years now, and they should be aware of that by now. Personally, I used to truly despise Fish for it (and I do think that all the flopping really is bad for the game. It’s not what I want to watch.), but it’s hard to blame him for it. I’m a professional fan, so I have the skills to continue blaming him, but it isn’t easy.
Garnett zoned in on both ends. Helping out a lot and still scoring and rebounding. Pierce too. LA is chasing Allen off the three point line. Not sure why. He hasn’t made one in over a week. Kobe missing a lot of contested shots. Lakers doing a great job on the offensive boards to stay in it, especially Bynum and Gasol. They’ll need Odom to keep that up as well.
Celtics run a bad isolation play for Pierce at the top of the key to end the first quarter. Odom is in position to help Bryant as Pierce makes his move. Pierce has to kick it out to Nate Robinson at 26 feet with no time left for a second pass. Nate misses the shot. Why don’t teams just run real plays when they have 18 seconds left before the end of a quarter? Why is it always isolation? That sort of play only makes sense if there’s not enough time to run a real play or if some sort of mismatch is achieved early in the shotclock. If isolation was actually the best play, why run system the rest of the game?
Tony Allen looks like he wants to beat Vuvacic to death with his bare hands. He’s probably just upset that he isn’t guarding Kobe right now. Rasheed continues to play tremendous 1 on 1 defense against the Lakers’ bigs. Hits a spot up elbow jumper at the other end. Odom does indeed continue the great offensive rebounding when Gasol sits. Nate Robinson very active. Kobe comes back in, and Tony Allen is really hounding him now. The Celtics’ second unit continues the strong play from last game and helps build an 8 point lead. They’ve just got a better energy level than Farmar, Odom, and Sasha so far.
Both teams waste a possession out of a timeout. Not like Phil or Doc teams who usually execute smart plays when they have time to draw something up. Sasha makes one on a Kobe kick out off the double in the post. Nate Robinson is getting sloppy with his passes. He’s going to meet the pine pretty soon. Yep. Here’s Rajon. Lead is down to 4. And Rondo scores immediately on a great knifing drive through the paint. Reverse spins it off the glass with his right hand while leaping left. LA gets it back on the offensive boards. Bynum doing a nice job causing havoc on a bad wheel though he’s not actually snatching boards himself. Refs catch a 3 seconds on Odom and Bynum. If they wanted to emphasize that, it would really hurt Bynum in this series.
Celtics overpassing and have 8 turnovers early. Lead down to 1. Three point shooting is 3 to nothing LA. They must have at least 5 more offensive rebounds and 4 less unforced turnovers as well. Boston is shooting lights out, but they aren’t doing the little things necessary to win.
Kobe is going under every screen on Rondo, and he’s hitting elbow jumpers so far. Joey Crawford catches Rondo in a carry. It’s a good call. Now let’s see them call it on Kobe at the other end. Ooooh! Ugly foul by Artest on Garnett, clearly shoves him to the ground. Rondo pushes Artest with one hand and Artest flops backwards like he’s been in a car accident. JVG is incensed by the Lakers’ cheating… I mean “selling” to get calls. Oh, and those were the first free throws that Boston has shot in this game. 4:00 left in the second. LA up 1.
Garnett draws a double in post, hits Pierce for a 3 pointer. Boston’s first. Gasol accidentally tips in a missed 3 by Allen, but the refs should have ended the play before the shot even went up because Perkins was in the lane a Bynum amount of time. LA continues to switch on screens with Paul Pierce, and he continues to score on the mismatch. Rondo called for a ward-off driving at Kobe. I think it was a good call, but the Boston crowd is chanting BULL-SHIT in their class style. LA has Walton on Pierce now, and Boston’s not even bothering to set up pick and rolls. Pierce scores in isolation.
Celtics arguing amongst themselves about the last play of the half as they walk off the floor. Pierce got to play 21 minutes this half and scored 15 points. Boston shot 66% from the field and is up 6. They are going to do a Derek Fisher special at halftime. I hate him and his timely plays so much, I may be able to harvest my rage and pen a new song for Dethclok. …Okay, so the special was more about his poor daughter’s eye condition and what a great management team Utah had to let him go back to the Lakers to take care of her in LA… Well, I still hate him, but I promise to stop hating him once he retires or starts playing for the Clippers.
Boston up 6 starting the 3rd quarter, but they are down in rebounds which is a bad indicator. The team that has won the rebounding has won every game. Garnett starts the quarter with an assist to Rondo when Kobe doubled him in the post, a combo block with Perk on a Gasol drive and a great sprint back down the court to help get Pierce open for a transition 3. Perkins scores in the post over Bynum!!! He had to fade away, but that’s a first in this series. Kobe is hitting tough shots to keep LA in it.
Ray Allen has missed 16 straight 3 point attempts. Ray Allen. The Ray Allen. At the other end Kobe front rims a three into the hoop Larry Bird style. Boston is getting points in the lane though. Kobe hits a one dribble pull up 3. Has 10 points in the 3rd with 8 minutes left. Only Bryant. Nobody else in the league can do this. Maybe Durant next year.
Kobe called for a foul trying to push off Ray Allen. Tough call in a physical contest. Pierce with a slippery Paul Pierce reverse layup at the other end. He is really eating Artest up tonight. Kobe asking for the assignment. Kobe comes back and nails another contested jumper. Scrum for the rebound leads to Boston side out. Double Ts called on Ray and Fish for no reason. Fish flops AGAIN and draws another foul on Allen. I think the refs must have watched the special on Fisher’s daughter, cause homey just has to flinch to get the call. Kobe finishes a lob with incredible touch… like Kobe-only touch. He’s 7 for 7 for 17 points in the 3rd after hitting a 27 footer. Has the last 23 points for LA. That man wants to go home up 3-2. Pierce getting tired and missing shots.
Garnett switches onto Kobe off a triple screen and gets him to barely miss and then scores at the other end on an off balance up and under for the and 1. Garnett has brought out a post game he hasn’t shown since 2005. He must have read about how much better than him Gasol has become. KG swats Gasol at the rim, and Pierce fouls Bryant on the offensive rebound. Kobe has 19 in the third and the lead is still 9. He needs help. Fish flops AGAIN, and the refs let it go. Leads to an open make for Ray.
Boston picks up its 15th turnover, and Kobe has had the best quarter of the playoffs by any player, but the Celts are still up 13 points. Gasol becomes the first Laker to score other than Kobe with 2:15 left in the quarter. Boston sits Allen and Garnett, and things immediately go to hell at both ends. LA cuts the 13 point lead to 10 in two possessions. Boston with back to back turnovers. Tony Allen with the block of the series on a Gasol layup (really impressive – he was defending at the three point line and got there to make the block at the rim which is LeBronesque), and Pierce scores in isolation at the other end. Overall Boston lost 5 points on their lead when Garnett and Allen sat, and they end the quarter up 8 instead of 13.
Gasol opens the 4th with a jumper and cuts it to 6. Sheed misses a running finger roll at the other end. I’m anxious here, Doc… Nate to Sheed pick and pop 3! Nice call, Doc! Robinson forces a 3. LA forcing the ball into Bryant who continues to hit impossible shots. Boston needs to keep converting because they can’t stop him. Robinson gets a layup off a series of high screens. Gasol finally called for a push in the back. Did Sheed flop to draw it? I couldn’t see, but that’s the first time they’ve called one of those.
Pierce drives into Kobe and draws an obvious reach in foul. He will become the second Celtic to shoot free throws tonight. He better make them. When you aren’t getting to the line often, you need to make them all. 1 of 2. 10 point game. Ray handcheck’s Kobe at the other end. Kobe hits a fadeaway with two Celts in his face. Ray gets open underneath at the other end, and Nate finds him for 2. Odom drives right and scores by Garnett. When did Odom learn to drive right? Double foul called on Allen and Fish when Fish flops AGAIN. Fisher flops again after the inbound and draws an offensive on Perkins. When the officials review this game, they should suspend Fisher for deceiving them so much. He’s humiliating them out there.
Pierce fouled at the rim. No call, but that’s pretty consistent with the contact they’ve allowed in the paint tonight, and is overall a good thing for Boston who needs more leeway from the officials. Odom scores on an offensive board again. He’s doing a good job getting to the ball on long kicks off the rim. Boston lead back down to 6. Time out by Doc. Garnett scores in the post over Odom on the ensuing possession. Rondo strips Bryant at the other end, and Allen finds him for the breakaway. Kobe thought it was a foul, but ABC didn’t give us a good angle. Garnett misses a fadeaway over Pau and lucks out on defense when Kobe throws a pass into his legs leading to a jump ball against Lamar which he wins.
Rondo darts in from the three point line to tip in a missed 3 pointer by Pierce! Hugely athletic play. Only other PGs in the league who could pull that off are Westbrook and Rose. 12 point lead. Loose ball foul on Pierce at the other end. Then on the next play he draws a dubious foul on Kobe when Bryant gets underneath him on an outlet catch and he flops. Garnett with a rim out. 12 point game with 3 minutes left. Kobe going to the line after getting fouled on a drive to the rim. Kobe hits both. 10 point game. Artest with a big steal then feeds Gasol for a Garnett foul in the paint. 1 for 2. 9 point game. Huge scrum for a rebound. Bodies everywhere. Foul called on Perkins for the last one. Artest to the line. Misses the first one front rim, but it rolls in for him. Misses the second backrim, and now Gasol called for the foul pushing Perkins (who also may have flopped). Perk is almost as bad as Rondo at the line, so this might have been on purpose. Barely makes contact with the front of the rim on the first one. Same with the second. LA secures the board, and P-Jax calls a 20 second time out. ABC decides they can sneak a commercial in. I bet it’s for the friggin’ World Cup. Nope, USPS. That’s making them cash dollar bills yo.
Ray Allen called for his fifth foul for bodying Kobe on a 3. Garden is roaring mad, but it was an understandable call. Could go either way. Kobe makes his free throws. Cause he’s a winner. Boston fan throws something onto the court. 5 point game with 1:30. Lakers last 7 are from the free throw line. Ray nearly airballs a three but Perk gets the offensive rebound for a new possession. Lakers get a little ripped off on this one. It really was an offensive board (Ray’s shot JUST drew iron enough to change direction), but Perkins had the ball when the officials blew it dead to confer on whether or not it was a 24 second violation. I’m guessing the Lakers would have liked the opportunity to foul Perk on the catch. Wallace misses a 3 as the shotclock winds down. Garnett and Fisher go to the floor for the board. Jump ball.
Fisher steals the tip going up. Why do they even bother throwing it up? I wonder if they shouldn’t alternate like in college ball, because the toss is rarely very good and the tip is almost never clean. Pierce fouls Artest on a breakaway. Artest misses 2. Kobe outwrestles Garnett for the rebound, and Pierce outwrestles Bryant and calls time out. Bryant is livid, but I’m not sure why. Pierce did exactly the same thing to him that he did to KG, and as far as I could tell the refs could have called jump balls on either wrestling match.
5 point lead with 40 seconds left. Pierce breaks the press on the inbound play and hits a streaking Rondo for a layup as he’s falling out of bounds. 7 point lead. That’s three possessions. That’s big. 35.2 left. LA has 1 full timeout left. Boston a 20. Kobe misses a desperation 3. Odom scores on an offensive board. LA allows Boston to waste clock and fouls Ray Allen with 18 seconds left. Ray hits both. 7 point lead. Kobe throws himself towards Boston defenders and flings the ball at the rim. Miss. Gasol scores the offensive board. Garnett gets the ball over the timeline and makes one of two free throws with 9 seconds left. 6 point game. Jackson takes LA’s last timeout.
Kobe has 38 after a horrible first half. Garnett looks like he’s praying right now. That’s how terrifying Bryant is when you’re only up 6. But Kobe misses and Fisher misses off the offensive boards, and the Celtics are headed to LA up 3 games to 2 with two chances to close at Staples Center.
That was a very physical game that was called in a Boston fashion – despite all the Fisher flop action, the physicality was allowed down low, and that is very big for Perkins, KG, Rasheed, and Baby who are all bangers under the boards and hands on defensively. Pierce had another nice game (the first time a Celtic has had back to back strong offensive games in the series). And most of the Celtics regulars shot well.
LA left a beautiful Kobe second half on the table – for the game he had 38 points on 13-27 shooting, which is fantastic against the Celtics. He has to be upset. Honestly though, there wasn’t a lot his teammates could do. Part of the reason he went off is because the Celtics were mostly staying at home defensively in the second half only cheating over if the spacing permitted, which gave him the opportunity to hit tough shots over the Allens instead of drawing and kicking as he did in the first. The Boston bigs did a great job contesting entry passes and covering the backside when fronting the post, and LA can’t expect Fisher to go off in the 4th quarter every game.
Boston’s bench was effective again, but they got sloppy early, and Doc gave them a shorter leash this game. JVG pointed out that he thought it was tougher for a second unit to hold a lead than to make a comeback because of the expectations and the higher focus of the opposition. My fanhood agrees with that. If you want a great performance from your bench players either put them in down 10 or up 20. They’ll make more shots with no pressure.
I think the big thing in the last two games has been that Garnett has been back to playing dominant defense, and Pierce has been back to playing unstoppable offense, while the whole unit is really focused at both ends. That has been the best equation for victory for this team since 2008. However, if I was a Lakers fan, I would point out that the Lakers have won every game where Bynum has looked really healthy (well except the one where Ray Allen shot the ball like Jesus Shuttleworth) and lost every game where he hasn’t. But I’m not a Lakers fan, so I won’t bring that up.
Celtics had made a major comeback in terms of their likelihood to win the series. I think the numbers said that a team up 2-1 after the first three games in a 2-3-2 format has won the series something like 88% of the time. Now though it is a 3-2 series in Boston’s favor heading back to LA. At best LA can’t have more than a 50% chance to win both of those. Also I can’t remember a Phil Jackson team ever being behind 3-2 in a series and winning. The Bulls lost to Detroit in ’90 in those circumstances and Orlando in 1995 in those circumstances. It may have happened for LA at some point, but I can’t think of when. So if we thought him going 47-0 when his team won game one was a big deal, then we should think his teams going whatever-0 when down 3-2 might be a sign too… or should we? No. I guess not. We should just play aggressive basketball, contest every shot and every board, play together, and hope for the best.
Notable stats: LA’s first time being behind in a series this season. The first back to back win by either team in this series. Boston came back to win the rebounding battle by 1, though they game up 16 offensive rebounds and got only 7. Another reversal of officiating fortune: Boston blocks 7; LA blocks 1. That is a major change. Fouls called were close to the same (Boston committed one more), though LA did go to the line twice as many times despite having to foul at the end to draw out the game. Still it’s the turnovers on the flops that kill you too, so having the fouls called be this close is what’s really a big deal and allowed Boston to stay in front. Garnett had 6 steals, mostly getting hands on post feeds and interior passes, which is huge. It not only denies the Lakers a chance to score inside (which is in itself enormous), it also allows them to get out and run. Lakers had more turnovers than assists. That’s part of why they had so many offensive rebounds though. Boston rotated really well. At the other end though Boston scored a lot of paint buckets and shot 56% from the field and every starter shot 50% or better. Celtics have held the opposition to less than 100 points in every win this post season (they are 15-2 when doing so). Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace – 0 Technical Fouls. Excellent! We’ll have both our centers for game 6. Hopefully that will be the last game of this series.