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NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: Kobe Bryant hit lightspeed and left the Lakers behind

Jun 13, 2010, 11:09 PM EDT

bryantsad.jpgKobe Bryant’s third quarter was transcendent. It was simply brilliant individual basketball. He nailed a series of shots that literally, only he can make. He was incredible in turning low percentage shots into conversions time and time again. One handed runners falling out of bounds? Terrific. A near 28 foot three? Money. It was as fine an individual shooting performance as you will ever see in the NBA.

And it sunk his team.

After a series of manageable possessions kept the Boston lead to six at the half, the Celtics picked up where they left off. All five Celtics’ starters had buckets within the first four minutes, distributing the ball and creating easy looks against a suddenly apoplectic Lakers’ defense.

And the Lakers’ offense? It went into “Watch-Kobe” mode. And stayed there.

Beyond Bryant’s 7-9 shooting, here’s the entirety of the Lakers’ offense in the 3rd..

During the first six minutes of the game, as Kobe unleashed the barrage:

11:19 Kevin Garnett blocks Pau Gasol layup

After Kobe cooled to reload:

4:54 Kevin Garnett blocks Pau Gasol lauyup
2:49 Derek Fisher misses 21-foot jumper
2:15 Pau Gasol makes driving layup
1:25 Tony Allen blocks Pau Gasol layup (are you sensing a theme here?)
:53 Rajon Rondo blocks Jordan Farmar layup
:44 Sasha Vujacic makes 22-foot jumper
:04 Lamar Odom misses 3-foot jumper
:01 Pau Gasol makes layup

That’s 3 of 9 for the quarter for every player outside of #24. So during Kobe’s run, the Lakers had exactly one field goal from non-Kobe personnel, and that was before Bryant really started (his first field goal in the 3rd was at the 10:42 mark). Afterwards, 3 of 8 from the floor and they never really recovered from that. Non-Kobe personnel went 5-11 in the 4th quarter, a much better mark but not nearly good enough to overcome the Celtics’ offensive juggernaut (with the way the Lakers were playing defense especially).

There’s reasonable job (if it weren’t for the blown free throws), but the damage was already done and the Lakers’ offense never really hit its stride.

There’s precedent for this. In 2006, Kobe went ballistic on the Suns, only to find himself outgunned. Then, just like now, people blamed his teammates for not being good enough to get Bryant’s glowing performance to the promised land. But we know this Lakers team is good enough to win a title. See: 2009. But that version of Bryant was facilitating, rebounding, getting his teammates involved, working in the flow of the offense.

Tonight, instead, Bryant opted for ISO sets and reaction jumpers, taking any opening, or really, any opportunity, even if guarded. The catch and shoot three? A last second desperation after Ron Artest Crazy Pills’d his way around the perimeter and through the lane for 12 seconds.

So are we to blame Bryant for this? For submarining the Lakers’ offense and dropping them into an inefficient ditch, left for dead?

Of course not.

Kobe did what he does best. Score. Played with passion and pride. And had the Lakers set created open looks for other players, he likely would have given them the opportunity to succeed. But at the same time, Bryant’s teammates will get undue criticism. They ran the plays as asked, functioned as performed.

But Phil Jackson? Phil Jackson had a hand in this. At no point did he stop to ask “Hey, I have a highly inconsistent team that tends to fade considerably when not involved. Maybe I should get Bryant to start facilitating and not just gunning, to spread the bullets out a little bit, you think?” He instead just let the team go into “Watch Kobe” mode and suffered the consequences. The defensive lapses can be pinned on effort and awareness. Pau Gasol getting punked like a ballerina in rollerball can be pinned on the big guy.

But letting the Laker offense, which has such potential, go down the tubes behind a flash of Kobe’s brilliance that was sure to let up eventually against the Boston defense (and with Bryant considerably older than he was when he was dropping 81)? That’s on coaching, and another in a long line of adjustments Phil Jackson has failed to make in this series.

Oh, and by the way. Not to say we told you so… but we told you so. (We totally meant to tell you so.)

  1. Vince - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    I totally agree! Not one stop in that 3rd quarter when kobe took over. He’s not to blame. The entire first half he was trying to get his teamates invloved and it wasn’t working. So he took control of the third quarter. The rest of the teams only responsability was to play a little defense. If they had done that today everybody would be saying how great kobe is and he did what he was suppose to is take over. But since the lakers lost, they change the story to he didn’t get his teamates involved. Such a crock!

  2. MP - Jun 14, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Kobe = great shooter. MJ = greatest player ever.
    MJ would not have to settle for 3 point shots EVERY TIME he has the ball. Kobe can’t get to the hoop. Do ya think defenses tried to stop Jordan from getting to the hoop? Of course they did. He was just so much better than everyone, including Kobe.
    Please, put the “whose better, Kobe or MJ?” argument to rest.

  3. P - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    Dude, can you count? If you haven’t noticed the series is 3 to 2 Boston. Which means that there are two games left (7 games in the series). If Lakers win game six, that would be 3 to 3. Lakers must win both games so 4 + 3 equals 7.

  4. Mr8bit - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Nincompoop. It’s called a joke. Like LA’s offense. Hey-OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  5. Kayoss - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Reply to Mr8bit
    Thank you MR8bit, I’m a lakers fan and its good to know that there’s some celtics fans out there that have class and respect for other teams.
    Anyways, Lakers played a poor game yesterday, if it wasn’t for Kobe taking over the game, the lakers would have lost by more than 39 points. Lamar Odom could attack the basket if he wanted to but decided to become a tree, Farmar thinks he’s a Celtics so he kept passing the ball to the other team, Shannon Brown keep trying to jump over people, and Pau Gasol have a fetish for being slapped around, Fisher is still crying from game 4, and Walton… I dont know why he’s on the damn team. Kobe needs a lot of help. Hopefully they can stop the celtics in game 6, but if they lose…they would lose to a better team.

  6. RichWizl2 - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    In game 5, the REAL Celtics showed up; the guys who play hard D with a passion and can hit some outside shot, too. I’ve been a Celtics fan for many years and saw every one of those great Celtics/Lakers Finals in the 60’s. This is a tremendous rivalry and fans shouldn’t cheapen it by insulting the opposing team’s players or fans. Believe me, the LA Lakers are NOT fakers; they are the reigning champs and are capable of beating any team. They could make adjustments and look totally different Tuesday night. I love the Celts and have never liked the Lakers, but I totally respect them. They are a team built for LA’s style and the C’s are a Boston-style team; very different styles, but both great teams. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, so everyone should save it until it is; then be gracious to the other great team that loses. Of course, I’m old-fashioned and don’t know anything.

  7. LakersWillStillTakeIt - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    C’mon man…Kobe taking over the game is why they lost?? Kobe had to take over because the rest of Lakers have their heads up their wazoo instead of in the game. Kobe is a brilliant student of the game. In this stage of his life, he has learned to facilitate the game…but he also knows when everything collapses around the other four on the court, he has no choice but to kick it into high gear and take over.
    Gawd-o’-Friday I wish the other 11 or so on the team would wake the farq up and play like the champions they are. Bynum hurt or not, Odom and Gasol can hold their own but are playing like they are wearing a skirt. I hope someone on the coaching staff is reading this and tells this team to grow a pair and go back to playing like the last two games of the Charlotte and Phoenix games and all of Utah.
    Maybe Staples is a little dose of wake the hell up that the Lakers need.

  8. Omnius - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Basketball is a team game, not an individual sport so why would anybody be surprised that the Celtic’s team overcame Kobe’s individual brilliance? The Lakers will come home and watch them shoot a whole lot better than they did in Boston. Boston’s defense is overrated, too many Laker shots didn’t go in even though they were wide open looks. Despite how well Boston shot and how poorly LA shot I’m happy that the Lakers were only beaten by 6. No 39 point blowout this year, unlike 2008. The Laker’s bench will play better at home and Boston’s bench will go into hibernation again. Don’t tweet the series is over yet Boston fans, things will be quite different when play resumes Tuesday night in LA where Showtime reigns supreme. The Fat Lady will be singing the Blues for the Ancient Celtics after the Lakers win game 7 and the NBA title.

  9. Basketball Jones - Jun 14, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    This whole argument about who is the greatest basketball player in history is completely futile. At least narrow it down to who is the best shooting guard or whatever because without the big guys getting the rebounds neither MJ or Kobe would’ve been all that much. There is much more to the game than scoring but scorers get all the glory. If I’m starting a team, my first pick is Bill Russell.

  10. Kobe's Destiny - Jun 14, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    If Kobe can keep from raping anyone for the next week, the Lakers might have a chance. But, as he is not only a rapist, but also a selfish player who would rather score 38 points and lose than get his teammates involved in the game, maybe they don’t have a chance. There is always a good chance that Kobe will go on another raping spree when the season is over.

  11. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 15, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    You DO know that to continue using that Kobe-rapist line only makes you look more pathetic, ignorant and STOOOOOPID, right? He wasn’t even proven guilty, barnacle-brains. What do you use for a brain? The posterior end of your alimentary canal? BWAHAHAHA!!! You must have the brain cavity of a nematode.
    Anyhoots, Kobe can’t do it alone and I’m much disappointed that he couldn’t get his mates going. That being said, the only redemption he has got is if he and the rest of the Lakers get Sweet Sixteen. Pretty much sure that it would be a team effort. Go Lakers!

  12. Kobe's Destiny - Jun 15, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    BWAHAHAHAHA! Kobe is still a rapist! BWAHAHAHA! Just because he paid the girl off before he got convicted doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. As a matter of fact, paying her off shows how guilty he is. BWAHAHAHAHA!
    Now, Foul DimTalker, BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Kobe = Rapist!

  13. Fouldwimmerlaik - Jun 15, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Yeah, expect an idiot not to realize and recognize what an imbecile he really is. You’re frying yourself in your own lard, tubby boy. Fine, for my pro bono of the day, why don’t you visit the Karolinska Institute and take a free brain lobotomy? Oh, I forgot. You’re a nematode. You don’t have any. BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

  14. Kobe's Destiny - Jun 15, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    You shouldn’t drink so early in the day! BWAHAHAHAHA!
    And Kobe is STILL a rapist.

  15. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 15, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Yup, it’s a fine day to have some sip of Chteau Margaux 1995. So what are you having? Piss? BWAHAHAHA!!! I will leave you to your Quixotic machinations on Kobe’s alleged rape. You must be too obsessed and fixated with him, so by all means go on with your fantasies. Drop by the clinic anytime. I need a guinea pig to do more studies on sports fans with Asperger’s Syndrome. Makes good for a dissertation. Thanks! LMFAO!!!

  16. Kobe's Destiny - Jun 16, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    I take it you are a patient at that facility???!!! LMFAO because that is what all gay Foul Dimwingers do! lmfao lmfao lmfao. Bwahahahahaha! LMFAO. Bwahahahahaha

  17. Marilyn - Jun 17, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Bryant is a rapist, so juct accept it. Research, he paid the victim off. Bryant is a gifted player but he will always be a rapist 1st. He would have captured a great record in history as a player if he had kept his pants zipped. Personality, public persona and character are part of the whole package.

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