This wasn’t a reality check. It was just another reminder. A reminder of just how impossible a task it is for these Lakers to three-peat. With everything to play for against the rival Celtics, only Kobe Bryant clocked in. In fact, Mamba was the first man in the arena this morning. His teammates never showed up though. Specifically, the bigs took Sunday afternoon off. In a game reminiscent of that ugly showing in the 2008 Finals, the Lakers cowered to the Celtics’ might. For good measure Kevin Garnett got bloody in the first quarter as if he was putting on his war paint.
Fearing no man other than Bryant, the C’s dared any other Laker to beat them. That challenge went unmet.
Pau Gasol is supposed to be an elite player. Well, elite players don’t get out hustled and out worked on every possession. The Spaniard was highly inefficient scoring 12 points on 13 shots. The Lakers were a wretched -20 during Gasol’s 39 minutes on the court. Enough with the talk of Gasol not getting enough touches. That is a tired excuse for a man that just isn’t aggressive.
If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know then observe another lackluster effort from Andrew Bynum. The big guy’s health was supposed to be the biggest reason why the Lakers looked so terrible in the ’08 Finals. Well, now he’s healthy so what’s the excuse? Drew played with no intensity in a game he should have been hyped for. If seeing Shaquille O’Neal in green isn’t enough to get your Purple and Gold blood pumping then nothing will.
Bryant is the lone Laker that is playing with championship focus these days. Lamar Odom’s foul 50-feet away from the hoop to the end the first half said it all.
KB24 is channeling the Kobe of ’06 that had to do it all for his team. Two straight brilliant performances from Mamba have resulted in consecutive losses.
What’s it going to take to get that championship fire lit?
The team defense broke down at the wrong time. For the most part, Phil Jackson had his team playing well on the defensive end until it matter most – the fourth quarter. There was no presence at all on the boards. Boston abused the Lakers, out rebounding the home team 43-30. Let’s face it; this Laker team just doesn’t have the determination or toughness to compete with the NBA elite.
While we’re on the subject of toughness, Ron Artest is probably wishing he had kept his ring right about now. Ron Ron went 1 of 10 and was a complete non-factor against the 32 Paul Pierce put in the box score.
Oh…but Shaq did manage to collect 5 fouls and score no points in his unceremonious debut donning green in Los Angeles. So there is one thing the Lakers can take some pride in…I guess.
The warning signs are impossible to ignore and the bigger the stage has been this year the smaller the Lakers have played. If Kobe wants to prove he’s the G.O.A.T. we all see him as then he’ll have to get some of his intensity to rub off in the locker room. This was a game you’d expect this team to get up for and all they did was get out of the way for Boston. With the Spurs looming on the horizon and a rematch in Boston just around the corner the Lake Show is rolling through the toughest stretch in the schedule. We’ll see how it goes over the next month. This is where champs separate themselves from chumps.