I really don’t understand what it’s going to take for the Lakers to realize that rebounding and sound defending are what’s going to capture a 16th NBA title. Boston tanked us on the boards 41-36, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds, many of which were immediately put back into the confines of the rim with relative ease. Surprise, surprise, the team that won the battle on the glass won the game.
The Lakers’ defense and rebounding were superb in the first half, which is what makes their performance in the second so mind boggling. You have to wonder whether or not the absence of Andrew Bynum had some sort of discouraging effect on our mental fortitude.
Our will to win Game 4 can basically be summed up by one simple play – when Nate Robinson, the little engine that could, dove on the ground to rip possession away from Jordan Farmar who meekly flapped his arms towards the ball to no avail.
Bluntly put, the Lakers played with no heart in the second half.
The other alarming element of Game 4 was our inability to hold onto the rock. While the Celtics turned it over 12 times to our 15, the Lakers gave it away in the most critical junctures of the fourth quarter. Both Pau and Kobe’s turnovers with less than a minute to play, down six, sealed the game for the C’s.
What was especially frustrating in the fourth quarter was how we caved offensively as well under the pressure of Boston’s 6-0 run that opened the stanza. Rather than calmly moving the ball and making cuts off of the Celtics’ trapping defense, the Lakers played right into Thibodeau’s scheme by running too many single-side isolation plays and non-chalant high pick and rolls, both of which were all too easily contained by Boston due to lack of ball and man movement by our players.
At this point, it’s not about Ron Artest’s malnourished shooting percentage or Andrew Bynum’s ailing knee. The rest of the series is going to come down to rebounding the basketball, staying solid defensively and playing as if we actually want to win the game, regardless of our lineup. We’re four games in, there are no excuses anymore.
Effort, effort, effort.
You won’t find any grand undiscovered answers to victory in this series. I hate to sound like a broken record myself, but for the Lakers to come away as champions against the Celtics, the entire team must dedicate themselves to the dirty things that don’t always show up in the box score, every single possession from here on out. I don’t care who’s hurting where, there are only three games left to win two.
If we lose playing with heart, then so be it. But to lose without even projecting an ounce of concerted effort towards winning the unsung plays during the game, there can be no greater insult to all of us fans who inject our souls into the fabric of the team game after game, year after year.
I’ll say it now without fear of reproach, Game 5 is for the series. Play to win.