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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. themojojedi - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:30 AM

    To be fair and balanced you might also like to note that with Kobe creating for others in the first half (4 assists) the Lakers offense (39 points on 33% shooting) was not exactly striking fear into the Celtics. Also, without Kobe’s scoring explosion in the second half the Lakers pathetic defense would have ensured a blowout loss. But hey, it’s your story.

  2. Drew - Jun 14, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    It would be refreshing every once in a while to read reporters talk of their wrong-headed predictions and ill-founded logic from time to time. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve correctly predicted this series so far in almost precise detail.
    It is these writers who suggested the Lakers will win because Kobe is the best player on the floor. I countered by saying they didn’t watch the Cleveland series where Lebron was the best player on the floor and it didn’t matter much in the end because Boston was the better team. I said Kobe would put up big numbers anyway, but it’s not Kobe’s big numbers which will make the difference in this series.
    They said the Lakers will win because there’s no way the Celtics win two games at the Staples Centre. Now, they are one win away with two opportunities to do it. I correctly predicted a split in the first two games, Boston winning two of three at home, and closing it out in Game 6. We’ll see if that happens. Boston squandered a very winnable Game 3 and could’ve ended it in five.
    They said Artest would be a difference maker this time. I said he would be an offensive liability and that Rondo was essentially a non-contributor in 2008.
    They said there’s no James Posey this time. I said they have Tony Allen and a defense by committee which will bother Kobe.
    They said the Laker bigs and added physical toughness would be the difference this time. I said Boston’s interior toughness would still prevail. It has (healthy or unhealthy Bynum).
    They said the Lakers are hungry for revenge since 2008. I said, who cares? The Celtics are hungry too. Besides, hunger only gets you so far.
    They said the series was over after a convincing Game 1 victory by the Lakers. I said it’s one game and too much was made of it, that Boston would make adjustments, and foul trouble really hurt them in the first game. I said they would play better.
    We’ll see if my prediction of Celtics in 6 holds true and these writers can eat crow.

  3. brian Michaels - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    Once again I have to observe that you are a complete basketball idiot. The objective on every offensive possession is to put the ball in the basket. For Kobe’s brilliant 2nd half run he did just that on, I think, 15 straight possessions without a miss. What difference did it make who scored? Lamar Odom refuses to attack. Pau Gasol got punked by KG….again. And Ron Artest cant hit the broad side of the ball. Who, exactly, was there to pass it to?
    The game was lost on defense. Kobe gave them every chance not just to win that game but to run away with it. Boston matched every single Laker score with one of their own. Kobe can’t defend every man on the court. How many times did the team break down on defense in the 2nd half? Every possession. That’s not on Kobe. Or Phil.
    Plenty of blame to go around but I’d start with two knuckleheads from Queens.

  4. Mike - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:55 AM


  5. tj - Jun 14, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    How guys like you get to write baffles me. Kobe doesnt hit those shots they lose by 30. How about playing defense and grabbing some rebounds?

  6. AK - Jun 14, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    You get paid for above article? that was pathetic.
    The reason the Lakers lost was NOT Kobe going off–in fact that kept it from being embarrassing. The reason they lost is they allowed the Celtics to get layup after layup. 56% FG. They got no stops whatsoever in the 4th and only came back coz Celtics went cold after shooting 60%.
    Thank God for Kobe, and let’s hope someone else shows up on Tuesday.

  7. Matthew Davis - Jun 14, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    Wow. Considering the article’s nature, the most ironic captcha ever:

  8. Basketball 101 - Jun 14, 2010 at 4:32 AM

    You guys have no idea or understanding of the game of Basketball. Basketball is a TEAM game and will always be. And all of you stating that the goal is to get the ball in the hole no matter whether its Kobe doing it himself, then refer back to Games 1 and Game 3 when Pau and Byum got the ball in position to score or Game 3 when D Fish took over the 4th quarter, or you can just look at all of the games the Celtics won when they relied on BALANCE! If Kobe’s doing all of the work then that means who ever is guarding Bynums, Gasol, Fisher, and Artest can take a defensive possession off and save it for the offensive end. That means that KG, Perkins, Pierce, and Rondo don’t have to worry about foul trouble, because “Sir Jack A Lot” Kobe is doing everything! If the greatest B-ball player EVER (MJ) was losing to the Celtics by doing it himself, what makes you think Kobe is going to do it?

  9. Uleikp - Jun 14, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    The truth of the matter as a Lakers Fan is Phil Jackson have been out coached. Doc Rivers is a genius. Bynum is hurt. Phil have to Trust Josh Powell,DJ Mbenga,Vuajic,Shannon Brown and Famar more. The bigs got beat up pretty bad in Boston and they need more energy. Force the Celtics to play up hill on the road and you win every time. The lakers are not getting no fast break points and that mean some players have tired legs from chasing the other teams passing of the Ball. This lost is on Phil Jackson for not trusting and having the faith in putting in a effective game plan for the team he have coached in 3 years. Boston have figured the offense out and Ron Artest should have been benced in the first lost. The guy is a basket case. Can’t dribble,shoot or play defense and moves like a Turtle. Bad trade and Ariza will be burying those 3’s the Celtics defense is giving nutty RonRon.

  10. Lakers4Lyfe - Jun 14, 2010 at 6:27 AM

    I blame Phil Jackson for leaving Ron Artest in the game … Artest single handidly did everything he could to barf this game out like yesterday’s lunch. Gasol also was horrible. They looked tired. Kobe had no support at all. But Artest blew it. Play Walton.

  11. Anonymous - Jun 14, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    Personally, I think this series is over, wether it be in game 6 or in game 7, in favor of Boston. And I think one of the reasons why is Bynum. It’ll hurt him that he only has one day off between games 5 and 6, and if the Lakers win game 6, he’ll only have one day off between game 6 and game 7. As far as the “Kobe-scoring-so-much-it-takes-his-teammates-out-of-their-game” philosophy… wrong. These guys are all masters of the one-possession-at-a-time thinking. Do they get hurt by not being in the proverbial “groove”? Maybe. But as the saying goes: you know how many shots it takes for a good shooter to get hot? ONE. These guys are professionals. I’m not buying the “I don’t get enough shots to get into a flow” thing. If that were really true, explain how Nate Robinson comes off the bench and nails his first “x” number of shots, or Big Baby does. The defensive scheme of the Celtics is what’s going to prevail.

  12. Mr8bit - Jun 14, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    Phil Jackson summed up the Laker’s problem when he was giving them a “pep talk” in the huddle late in the fourth quarter. He told them: “These guys know how to lose games in the fourth quarter.” So basically, the Laker’s gameplan wasn’t to go out and WIN the game, it was to go out and let the Celtics LOSE the game. This is the NBA Finals! You have to go out and TAKE the title, not sit back and wait for the other guys to give it to you! And Jackson is supposed to be the Super Master Coach of the World? Give me a break!

  13. Topgun - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Wow,I guess anybody can write a sports article these days. What game was this guy watching? The game was at that point where Boston was ready to run away and hide so Kobe had no choice but to try and keep the Lakers in the game. Artest and Odom looked lost again, KG was abusing Gasol, and Fisher was a no show. The problem wasn’t the scoring outburst it was the fact that the Lakers couldn’t get a stop. I also place some of the blame on Phil Jackson and his lack of adjustments. I thought he should have benched Artest and brought in Farmatr to guard Rondo and let Kobe guard Pierce. I also don’t understand how Phil Jackson can make a statement that “Josh Powell is ready to play” and then you don’t play the guy????? He couldn’t be as bad as Lamar Odom has been in this series.

  14. P - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    I think it is funny thinking back to all of the pro Laker comments after the first game. The Lakers simply won the first game on their home floor, but according to all of the comments, the rest of the series did not even need to be played or even the next 10 NBA seasons because it was not possible to stop them. Basketball is a team sport and Kobe will never figure that out.

  15. Hackpiper - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Celts fan here.
    Everyone is down on the Lakers for their playing in this series, and I think thats a bit premature. Two possibilities left to get back into it on home court; they are still too good to simply fold at this point, and we have seen what they can do when they ARE in the groove. So I’m hoping that the C’s can close it out tomorrow night…but I’m ready for an epic pair of games this week. Yeah, the Lakers put it all on Kobe last night, but he had me, for one, really concerned up till the last minute.
    The “Zen Master” has been dismissive of the Celtics throughout the series. He’s had all sorts of rationalizations for every LA flub or failure, and he’s not really of a mind to give his opponents any credit for their successes. It always because the Lakers “let them” win or “enabled them to get confidence”…some other lame new age malarkey. If I were a Lakers fan, I’d be screaming for him to just STFU and get the team focused on just playing the game. That’s what Kobe does, and thats why he’s so impressive out there.
    Judged on physical skill and raw talent the Lakers should be owning this series. Yet, as far as I’m concerned the Celtics have already won the year be exceeding all expectations (but their own) and the scrappy way they fight to win games. If the Celtics actually do win the title, it will be a complete disgrace for LA because they have all the raw talent they need. Hubris and tinseltown attitudes will have done them in. Embarrassing. That said, I think they can step it up this week. Lets see some championship ball out there (from someone besides Kobe.)

  16. CelticsIN6 - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    I think the article is SPOT ON.
    Kobe took the wind out of every Lakers sail. He is a ball hog and he lost that game single handedly…he is DEF NO MJ!!
    Lakers play the best and win when they have at least 3 players with good #s.
    Lakers as a team are not good enough to win when Kobe scores 30+ and no one else is over 15.
    Celtics defense is wayyyy to good to not involve your teammates. Gasol has been effective in a couple games becuz he gets the ball more then 1 time in 5 minutes. Fisher is also effective when he gets touches. Bryant thought he could take his big inflated head and win the game by himself…WRONG!!! You’re good, but not that good Kobe! hahahaha..
    Celtics in 6!! and that makes Paul Pierce 1 championship short of Kobe’s 3…hahaha and people think Kobe is better then MJ…keep kidding yourself.
    Ray-Ray is that yourrr car!!??

  17. Fakers - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    FAKERS are no match for the Celtics.
    Kobe = GSLOAT!!! Greatest sore loser of all time!!
    Just becuz you’re a “superstar” doesn’t mean you’re going to get every call the way you see it pal. Paul, KG, and Ray are just as likely to be in the hall of fame as you pal, so they are going to get “superstar” calls as well…so take some of the air out of your bald head and start passing the ball. You’re a clow and yes i will say it…
    Green is 6!!

  18. Kobe Never Leaves A Behind - Jun 14, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    “NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: Kobe Bryant hit lightspeed and left the Lakers behind”
    Kobe is never happy about leaving ANYBODY’S behind. Especially someone he is raping

  19. DSOULS17 - Jun 14, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Sounds to me, your a Faker hater,the Lakers are playing into the Celtics hands because they continue to shoot jump shots. When you shoot jump shots against the Celtics and you do not hit them, that gives the Celtics fastbreak points.The Lakers just need to go back to the basics and go to their post game, if they continue to settle for jump shots and they are not falling, this series will be over Tuesday night. Kobe wanted to launch three’s alnight and waited until it’s was 2:55 lefted on the clock and then he wanted to drive the paint trying to get a foul. He needs to stop crying at the refs when he doesn’t get a call but continue to attack the basket, sooner or later he will get a call. Same goes for Bynum and Gasol, it also wouldn’t hurt for Odom and Shannon Brown to drive the paint also.That game should of been a blow out by at least 20 points but they only lost by 6. The Lakers are not worried.

  20. Juan - Jun 14, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Or…you know…the Celtics Defense is what killed their offense?
    Don’t credit the root of their woes. No, blame it on the fact that they didn’t play team offense. They COULDN’T! The Celtics team defense is simply JUST THAT GOOD.
    /the end

  21. Joan - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    But you have to take into account that when Kobe goes on these scoring drives, the rest of his team stands around and watches at the offensive end — and then continues in the same vain as they transition to the defensive end.

  22. Here is the deal - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Kobe is such a self-absorbed rapist, does it really surprise anyone he makes a team worse by being a ball-hogging jagweed?
    Kobe is just in a hurry to get the season over so he can go rape some more white girls.

  23. Mr8bit - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Dude, really? I’m a Celtics fan (as my posts make obvious) but to not give credit to Kobe for making impossible shot after impossible shot is just as bad as a Lakers fan not giving credit to the Celtics’ excellent D and unstoppable transition offence. Then you bring up an unsubstantiated (years-old) accusation with a little bit of racism thrown in for good measure? Good one! Way to cling to the UGLINESS that tinged the rivalry in the ’80s. YOU, sir, are the Classless Celtics Fan that all of these LA fans talk about. Why don’t you go throw a vodka bottle on the court while you’re at it? Nitwit.

  24. ernesto - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    I still say Lakers in 6.

  25. Mr8bit - Jun 14, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    ernesto said:
    “I still say Laers in 6.”
    After the post by ‘Here is the Deal,’ I was angry and disgusted. This post made me laugh again. Thank you.

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