In the 15 minutes that treaded by between the first and second half of Game 4, the Lakers packed up their defense and stowed it away in the locker room, completely collapsing in the final two quarters to the will of Big Baby.
Kobe Bryant’s third quarter brilliance was once again wasted by the rest of the players that were accompanying him on the floor from Pau Gasol down to Jordan Farmar. In a flash, Pau reverted back to his 2008 form and was tossed around like a paper mache crane by Glen Davis who bulled his way to four offensive rebounds and 21 points on 7 of 10 from the field.
Lamar Odom had no chance all night at stopping the drooling Big Baby, a matchup that had begun unraveling for us since Game 3. Last night, Davis took a Sharpie to his forehead and wrote, “Big Baby owns you”.
At some point, Odom going to have to realize that for him to be mentioned in the same breath as the plethora of great role players in Lakers history, he must develop the skill of recognizing what the game demands of him at whatever moment.
In Game 4, especially given the absence of Bynum, what we needed from LO was nothing more than boxing out to protect the glass and staying solid on defense. Play after play, he let Big Baby drive baseline for preschool level looks at the rim – abominable basketball to put it kindly.
The Celtics’ second unit led by Davis, played so well against our bench and starters included, that Doc Rivers did not reinsert Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce until there were less than four minutes to play.
Kobe did everything he could getting to the free throw line nine times in the fourth quarter, but like a damaged skipping record on repeat, Pau and Lamar were bulldozed as the Celtics pulled away to earn the win.
To make matters worse, Andrew Bynum played roughly two minutes in the third quarter and was replaced full-time by Odom who was clearly exhausted on the defensive end as the game was winding down. It was as if Boston’s apprehension in the paint diminished once they realized that Bynum was not only going to sit the rest of the game, but that his impact in the rest of the series is questionable.
We obviously sorely missed Drew’s strong rebounding and interior defense as the C’s outscored us 54-34 in the paint.
With the NBA Finals now a best of three series, the Lakers’ chances literally hinge on the health of Drew’s deteriorating joint.
As the case may be, there are absolutely no justifiable excuses for the Lakers’ incompetent, half-hearted effort on defense. To allow Big Baby all the inside looks he wanted and open lanes to the cup for Nate Robinson, was simply embarrassing to watch as a fan.