Anybody still want to try and argue that the Lakers are better off without Kobe?
As usual, the Celtics jumped out quickly on the Lakers, built a double digit lead and then squandered it late. Ray Allen burned the nets at Staples dropping a game high 24 on just 15 shots from the field including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. But even he went ice cold when his team needed him most.
After playing no D for the first three quarters the Lake Show locked down Boston, holding the C’s to just 11 points in the final frame. There was even a brief resurfacing of the pre-contract Sasha Vujacic. The Machine scored just six points but his intensity fired up a dormant crowd a fueled his team to get back into the game.
Pau Gasol made some big plays en route to scoring a team high 22 points but he faltered late. Gasol still hasn’t proven himself as a clutch performer, the final step in becoming a legit franchise player. The man who should have had the rock late was Lamar Odom. L.O. had is customary daily double (13 points, 14 boards) but most importantly the Lakers were +14 during his 33 minutes on the court.
Despite some poor execution down the stretch, L.A. still had a chance to win the game. With just two ticks left on the clock, Derek Fisher attempted to draw a foul instead of trying to get off a good shot. His flailing attempt gave Boston a hard fought win as the ball sailed out of bound leaving Phil Jackson to argue that more time should have been back on the clock prior.
For the Lakers, this was their first loss of the season without KB24 in the lineup. Sure, those wins in Portland and Utah were very impressive. Beating the Spurs and pulling one out against the Warriors showed plenty of character also. But we all know who would have had the ball in their hands tonight with the game on the line.
Would the Lakers have won if Kobe played? Maybe not but if history is any indicator then there is a pretty good chance we would have seen another Celtic meltdown capped by a buzzer beating dagger.