Thursday, June 03, 2010

Game 1: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

How they got here:
The Lakers coasted in the West during the regular season. With the addition of Ron Artest, they appeared unstoppable before the season. Even with Artest's lackluster season, injuries to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant being banged up, coach Phil Jackson guided the Lakers to the first seed in the West. The young Oklahoma City Thunder gave the Lakers a test in round one, but L.A. took four of six. The Lakers swept the Utah Jazz and went on to win an intriguing series with the Phoenix Suns, one in which Kobe dominated, 4-2.

The Celtics looked old for most of the regular season. Like sick puppies, you almost hoped someone would put Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce out of their misery. But coach Doc Rivers had a plan all along. The point guard, young stud Rajon Rondo, led the Celtics to the 4th seed. The team was healthy by playoff time and eased past the Miami Heat in five. They upset LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs in six, and, after a 3-0 start, backed into a 4-2 win over the Orlando Magic.

Game One:
Phil Jackson became enraged as an interview was being conducted during the 4th quarter of Game 1 with comedian Chris Rock, who sitting in the front row. At another point, Rock, sitting next to Kobe, attempted to joke around with the star guard. Kobe would have none of it. The game's best player finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists as he continued his impersonation of Oscar Robertson this playoff season.

The game was sloppy and the players seemed to lack focus at times. This was due to the fact that the lay off between the conference finals and tonight's game was essentially another all star break. Rondo epitomized this as he fell asleep in the backcourt with the ball at the end of the first quarter. Back up guard Jordan Farmer ripped the ball from the giant hands of Rondo, who played poorly despite 13 points and 8 assists.

But it was the Lakers' starters who carried the day. Derek Fisher started things, knocking down big shots. He finished with 9. Gasol had 23 points, 14 rebounds, and played tough defense in the post. Artest's defense was superb. So was Kobe's. The Lakers stayed comfortably ahead for much of the game. For the Celtics, Pierce had 24 points on 13 shots, but those numbers are deceptively good. Garnett struggled and Ray Allen was in foul trouble. Boston was badly outrebounded. The Lakers continued their undefeated playoff run at home with a 102-89 victory.

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