Clean It Up, Boys
Posted by Zach Lowe on Jun 7, 2010
Now that I’ve waxed poetic about the C’s grit in the 3rd quarter, let me say this: They were lucky to win Game 2 after gifting the Lakers eight points on mental blunders. Eight points. That’s, like, 8 percent of the number of points a team typically scores in a game. That’s a lot.
*Again, I apologize for the lack of video today. My DVR stopped recording around the the 7:00 mark of the 2nd quarter. I have no clue why. I would like to blame Time-Warner, every New Yorker’s least favorite company, but my hunch is that in all my nervous moving and jumping on the couch, I landed on the “stop” button at some point and just didn’t notice. This also means I can’t re-watch these plays as much as I’d like, so I’m going on my notes, the highlights (in one case) and my memory. If any of you have the recordings, please add your thoughts in the comments or let me know if I’ve missed some key detail.
(4:13, 2nd): Rasheed Wallace rebounds a Kobe missed three. Boston is rolling, up 47-35 with LA’s offense unable to generate anything in the paint as long as Bynum is resting. Rajon Rondo is on the left side of the floor, and as soon as Sheed grabs the ball, you can hear him yell (in that voice that can only be Rondo’s) “Sheed! Sheed!” Seriously, I hear that voice in my sleep at this point. I think I’d recognize if I were walking down 86th Street and Rondo hailed a cab a block away.
But Sheed, for whatever reason, doesn’t pass the ball right way. Maybe he was gathering his balance, or maybe he wanted to turn his body fully toward Rondo before making the pass.
Either way, he waits a beat, and in that beat, Kobe Bryant steps in the passing lane, intercepts the ball and drives at Sheed, drawing the foul. Kobe makes both foul shots.
It felt like a big play at the time, and it was, but it wasn’t as big as…
(0:04, 2nd)—Oh, Shelden. You’re such a good guy, and I understand what you’re trying to do here. You’re trying to make something happen, to give your team a chance at a make-able shot before the halftime buzzer. But the odds of you connecting with Tony Allen on this outlet pass to half court, and of Tony Allen gathering the ball and getting a decent look, well, they’re pretty slim. And, oh no, here’s Kobe jumping the passing lane, and, crap, there’s no defender in position to challenge this three, and we all know how this scene ends.
Williams’ motives were good, even understandable. But you’ve got to play the percentages, and the percentages say hold onto the damn ball.
(8:00, 4th quarter): This is the one for which I wish I had the video, especially because I haven’t yet caught it on any of the highlight shows. I know this: The Lakers win a jump ball, and Ron Artest, with about 18 on the shot clock, launches an absolutely awful off-the-dribble three from a few feet behind the top of the arc. Look, I know Artest shot threes decently from the top of the arc (41 percent on 31 attempts this season, according to NBA.com hot spots), but this was as bad of a shot as you can take.
And as I recall it, the Celtics were in wonderful position for the rebound. They had two big guys slightly inside the foul line and Nate Robinson right under the hoop. And all three of those guys just stood there. I particularly remember Nate Robinson standing under the rim, in a spot in which he is basically useless, and yelling in my head for him to find someone to box out.
And then Sasha Vujacic came from above the foul line, knifed through all of Boston’s defense and grabbed the offensive rebound. And before I could curse everyone’s least favorite player, he dished a nice pass to Farmar in the left corner for a game-tying three. A great play from Vujacic, a nice finish by Farmar, but more than anything, a bad play from Boston.
That’s eight points the Celtics gifted the Lakers. And while every game features a couple of bad blunders that lead to opponent points, these were three especially bad plays, and the Lakers, to their credit, capitalized on all three.
But if the Celtics are going to win three more games, they need to minimize these things, starting tomorrow.