Game 3 Rundown

Well last night's game didn't make Game 4 any more predictable. Laker fans came into last nights game expecting the Lakers to demolish the Celtics. That did not happen, well, not consistently at least. The game was low scoring and that was due more to defense than poor offense. The Lakers did an amazing job defensively and stepped up their transition game significantly from their abysmal transition defense in Boston. They also managed to limit Paul Pierce and KG to 6 and 13 points, respectively. Pierce and KG shot 8 for 35 from the field while Pierce spent most of the night in foul trouble and luckily managed to avoid the one that would have sent him to the pine for the night. The Celtics defense did not do much to stop the league MVP as he terrorized the Celtics all night going for 36 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Kobe had a rare free throw struggle and went 11 for 18 from the stripe and after the game he said, "At least I got there". That was very true, and the opposite of Game 2 in Boston as the Lakers found themselves shooting 22 freebies as opposed to Boston's 7. Don't be so quick to your conspiracy theories because the Lakers were hands down more aggressive and the Celtics were settling, like the Lakers in Games 1 and 2, for jump shots. The real story of the night was Sasha 'The Machine' Vujacic, who covered up for LO's continued struggles, and went 7 for 10 from the field which combined for 20 points.

The good for the Lakers: The Laker role players stepped up and played hard. Kobe was aggressive from start to finish and has come to terms with the fact that he do his patented first-half facilitator transformed into the 2nd-half, more like 4th quarter, dominator. He came out gunning from the beginning. Started off shooting a little rough going 2-5 in the opening minutes of the game, but finished with a game high 36 points.

The bad for the Lakers: Gasol and, need I say it?, Odom. Bill Plaschke put it best when he said, "Odom made two more baskets than you." Correct. He scored exactly two more baskets than me, you, and your family combined. He also furthered his embarassment by taking the ball unnecessarily to the hoop in the final meaningless seconds of the game and picking up an offensive foul. LO knows about his struggles and he is harder on himself than anyone. Jackson's criticisms after Game 2 did not seem to get him going. LO responded to the Jackson's post Game 2 criticisms by saying that he can accept it. We are just waiting for him to turn acceptance of criticism to motivation to production. Gasol also played rather poorly after his solid Game 2 performance. The Spanish national team scored more goals (4) in their game against Russia yesterday than Gasol made baskets. Gasol, like the rest of the Laker team, struggled big time from the foul line going only 3 for 8. Again, being outscored by Spain's soccer team point for point in that category. Fisher going 1 for 6 from the field and finishing with 6 points is not going to light up the box score, but his defense was still solid.

The good for the Celtics: They did not get blown out. They hung around and kept the game close for most of the series, even taking the lead a couple of times. Only losing by 6 when Paul Pierce and KG have terrible offensive games can be seen as a good thing. That means bad news for the Lakers because if a few more of those shots drop, they might be sitting on top of a 3-0 and putting the champagne on ice. Ray Allen showing that he is still around and able to perform at a level we think he can play at. He was the only bright spot for the Big 3 shooting 8 for 13 to net 25 points.

The bad for the Celtics: Doc Rivers' coaching. I have no idea how one can come to the conclusion that putting Rondo on Kobe for some of the game was a good decision. Kobe's eyes lit up when he saw Rondo guarding him. The Celtics should keep Allen on Kobe and just use the trapping from Game 1 to stop Kobe. As stated above, Pierce and Garnett's poor offensive performance can also be put in this category. The truly bad part of KG's performance is that after the first half of Game 1 he has made only 14 of his last 50 shots since then. #5 and #34 need to bounce back big if the Celtics are going to steal one in LA. Rondo's ankle has to be worrisome for Celtics fans. Rondo claims that he was only 50% when he went back into the game. Someone should tell Rondo that his re-emergence from the locker room only made the Celtic faithful yawn. Rondo and Cassell's inconsistency have made the very replaceable. Heck, even Eddie House made it into the game last night and drained a couple of big shots.

Rondo has to realize that, even beyond this series, his skills are not among the Celtics' most valuable assets, and neither is this supposed superstar's for his team. Rondo needs to play like he is still competing for the starting spot, and gaining the confidence of Doc Rivers. More importantly, he needs to gain the confidence of the Celtic fans because public opinion can sway a coach very quickly. Cassell is 16 years Rondo's senior with vast knowledge of the game and can shoot the ball, but those 38 year old legs are slowing down a bit. House made some big shots last night and kept them close down the stretch, and it had to put some confidence into House and Rivers. Rondo can't shoot, but he can dribble and pass. House can shoot, but he can't dribble or pass (I don't think House has dished out anything since he gave,his wife, Mike Bibby's sister, her wedding ring). Boston can pick their poison, but like many young players, Rondo has to find consistency when it matters most, in the playoffs, or he could find himself out of a Celtic uniform very soon.

Game 4 will be a much different game than Game 3. The series has been a very unpredictable one (except for the officiating), and both teams need to get into a rhythm and sustain it. Jon Barry said it last night, "The Lakers need to outscore the Celtics, because they aren't going to outdefend them." The defense for both teams looked solid, so Boston, it is your turn to try and outscore the Lakers because they have learned to defend just as well as you. Laker fans, don't get too excited yet, the Lakers just held point on their first serve, now it is time for an ace.

If you can't get enough of this reffing scandal. Here is a pro bettor's take on the situation if you haven't read it off of True Hoop yet.

Picture Source: Hoops Addict blog (top), The Basketball Jones blog (middle), The Big Lead (bottom)


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