It wasn't pretty, but it was good enough to force a Game 6

On a night where Kobe's first quarter performance looked like it was going to be a legendary performance hitting 4 out of 5 three-pointers showing a flash of invincibility and looking like the Lakers were going to roll to a blow out victory scoring 38 points in the 1st quarter. Sound familiar Laker fans? It should, it was exactly how Game 4 started, except this time, no one in Lakerland felt comfortable with this lead, and rightfully so. Of course, the Celtics chipped away at the lead and brought it to within 3 at the half for a score of 55-52. During the post-game press conference, Phil Jackson said that he told his team, "It's a good thing we dont have the lead because we don't know what to do with it anyway." It was another perfect forecast by the Zen Master as the Lakers watched their lead turn into the red zone and found themselves playing catchup.

The Lakers were able to sustain a 38 point 8 assist onslaught by Pierce and watched him almost single-handedly bring another banner to Boston. He did not have much help from KG who admittedly said himself that he had a bad game. For most of the game it didn't matter whether KG had a big night offensively until he missed two free throws late in the fourth that would have tied the game at 95. It should make Celtics fans cringe to see this kind of performance by the highest paid player in the league this year (around 23 million) choke in critical moments in the game. I've said it before, his poor offensive production for the large majority of this series has been overshadowed by the stellar play of the other 2/3's of the Big 3 for Boston, but the Celtics felt it more than ever last night.

The Lakers pulled out all the stops including bringing in Chris Mihm who has basically not played since he went down in garbage time in March 06', and the move even caused some uproar from Denzel Washington. The Laker bench did not have a stellar game except for Jordan Farmar. Phil Jackson was largely criticized for sitting Fisher for the last 8 minutes of game 4 and playing Farmar, but PJ did not waver from his attack. He stuck with Farmar for the entire 4th quarter and also inserted Fisher along with him. It was an effective attack and Farmar was playing well the entire game. Farmar hit big shots and kept the Lakers afloat during the Celtics' run in the second quarter. Sam Cassell only saw the flash of Farmar's number when he drove to the basket because Cassell's 38 year old legs can't stay in front of Jordan, and PJ is right to put the quicker Farmar on Cassell's inferior defense.

Another note about Cassel: if Cassell ceases to be productive offensively, Doc must immediately remove Cassell from the lineup because Cassell passes the ball less than any point guard I have ever seen. There is a point where it hurts the Celtics and Doc needs to be careful about Cassell and the amount of shots he takes. Someone needs to remind him this is not the 90's and he is not the focal point of the offense.

KG's performance against Gasol, defensively, was very poor. It may have been the only game this series that Gasol clearly came out on top in. He allowed Gasol to be aggressive throughout the game and let Gasol log in 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Letting the notoriously soft Gasol get whatever he wants in the paint will be heavily addressed by Doc Rivers before the game. Rivers has said during the series, and this has been the general consensus by most teams planning defense against Kobe, that he will let Kobe score as much as he wants, but the other players need to be stopped. That was not the case last night when the two keys for the Lakers, Gasol and LO, came up big. Lamar finally showed up for an entire game and managed to find the basket for 20 points on 8 for 10 shooting as well as 11 rebounds. This was encouraging for Laker fans as this has pushed LOs average to a hair over 13 points over the series, which is two points above his average of 11 during the San Antonio series.

Paul Pierce had 38 points 8 assists and 6 rebounds and could have sealed the series had Kobe not come up with a questionable steal. This game has left a sour taste in the Celtics mouth and you can be sure that they will be going over every excruciating detail of this film and fixing the problems. Game 6 is undoubtedly their best shot at finishing this series off. The future of the Finals will decided by who made the trip back to Boston for both teams for Tuesday night's game.

Some good links that could not be incorporated to the post:

Michael Wilbon and J.A Adande were having some good down time between Game 4 and 5.

Chicago Bulls fans will appreciate this work ethic as described by one of the top trainer's for NBA players, David Thorpe.

As much of a Laker fan I am, Kobe's humor this series has been painfully awkward, especially if you hear it live.

This video has been out for a few days, and it is a humanizing and humbling video for Nick Young as well as evidence that NBA players are still human. I still would want Young on my team during a pickup game.

I was going to post this article yesterday, but I thought this story would be done with, but I guess Jemele Hill is catching more heat from people outside of Boston for this article making some very strong comparisons, to say the very least.

Vic "The Brick" Jacobs quote of the day: "The Lakers are bamboo, they will bend, but will not break."-AM 570 'Loose Cannons' on how the Lakers will win Game 6

Picture Source: LAtimes.com (top), GettyImages

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