Kobe only took three shots and was focused on getting his teammates going offensively. Because he is such a threat on any part of the court, the Celtic’s defense has to collapse on him whatever he does, and he knows this. Kobe repeatedly drove inside the lane and dished it out to the perimeter to open teammates. Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown both had somewhat quiet but effective nights and knocked down 50% of their shots when given the opportunity.
On the same note, Kobe drew defenders out to the perimeter and passed inside a number of times to an open Andrew Bynum, or Pau, or a streaking Lamar Odom. It was very effective; Gasol finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Lamar had 10 points and 12 rebounds. I don’t think Kobe’s 4 assists accurately portray how well he orchestrated the offensive game plan.
Oddly enough, I was glad the Lakers were down 8 at the half. Whether it’s healthy or not, they like to play through adversity both real and manufactured. I thought they would come out of the gates streaking to start the second half, and I was right! L.A. opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run and had the game in their control for the most part. They knew what this game meant, that their honor was on the line, and adjusted accordingly.
The defense improved mightily from the first two quarters; Ray Allen had 8 of his 20 to finish the game, including a record setting three pointer, and Paul Pierce ended up with 15 points. Even though Ron didn’t have a strong offensive game, he did a great job defending Pierce which is what we really need him for anyway.
Next: It’s Mamba Time