Monday, June 9, 2008

No Tears for Pierce as Boston wins game 2

The Los Angeles Lakers stunned the Boston Garden crowd as the Lakers scattered 6 three point field goals in the fourth quarter to cut down a 71-95 4th Quarter deficit in the last 7:55 minutes to two points 102-104 with 38 seconds left. Again, “the Truth” prevailed as Paul “the Truth” Pierce canned two important free throws to give a little separation for the Celtics and eventually the 108-102 win and more importantly a 2-0 lead in the 2008 NBA Finals.

The first quarter saw both teams battle it out right away from the very start of the tip off. Pau Gasol was very aggressive down low scoring on various post up moves to the hoop against Kevin Garnett who missed a lot of jump shots. Paul Pierce also started aggressively to level the score at 8-8 but the Lakers pounded the inside as Gasol scored six straight points plus a technical free throw to take an early 15-8 lead with 6:15 remaining. After a timeout, the Celtics adjusted and caught up with the Lakers and equalized at 17-all through the efforts of Garnett and Ray Allen. The Celtics seized the momentum and the lead 20-19 until Jordan Farmar ended the quarter with a triple to put the Lakers ahead 22-20 after 12 minutes of play.

The second quarter saw the Celtics continue their momentum as their second unit had a new star- Leon Powe. Powe went 6 of 9 from the foul line including a spectacular three point play that wowed the Boston Garden crowd to give the Celtics a 36-26 lead with 7:44 remaining. The Celtics held on to the lead as the Lakers big three Bryant, Gasol and Lamar Odom resuscitated their team’s chances as the three contributed to their comeback to cut the Celtics deficit to 4 at 41-37 with 4 minutes left. Unfortunately, the Celtics had came up with another hero as Rajon Rondo stepped up by finding the right man at the right time as he hit Paul Pierce and Ray Allen from three point land to give the Celtics another ten point lead 47-37. Rondo’s showed his value when he blocked Vladimir Radmanovic’s three point try and scored off a dunk on the fastbreak to give the Celtics the momentum to start the second half 54-42.

The Celtics started the 3rd quarter by tightening their defense and an avalanche of offense coming from almost everyone. The Celtics raced to a 65-49 lead with 7:13 left as the Celtics threatened to blow the Lakers. But Bryant and Gasol presided over another run as the Lakers narrowed the gap once again to 59-68 with four minutes left in the quarter. But every time the Lakers came back, the Celts seemed to have an answer as Pierce scored four points, Ray Allen a triple and PJ Brown and Powe scored two points each as the Gang Green ended the period with a commanding 83-61 lead. For the Celtics it was the Leon Powe show as Powe, a Bernard King lookalike, bridged the third and 4th quarter by scoring 13 points mostly thunderous dunk shots.

The Celtics celebrated early after leading by 24 points in the fourth quarter but never knew what hit them as the Lakers, who came back to win two games against the Spurs, patiently nursed the Boston lead until they were ready to close them out. Unfortunately, Sasha Vujacic missed what would have been a momentum turning three pointer in the last 12 seconds to give the victory to the Celtics. Pau Gasol.Paul Pierce who scored 24 pts, was 4 of 4 from beyond the 3 point land and had also had 8 assists. Rajon Rondo dished out a total of 16 assists. The very underrated Boston Bench outscored the Lakes bench 35-23. The Celtics was 27-38 with their free throws while the Lakers were 10 out of 10. Say what you want to say but the officiating was very sloppy and inconsistent today. The Lakers scored 41 fourth quarter points. Pau Gasol scored 17 points but was scoreless in the last 16 minutes and 30 seconds of the game.

Here is a side snide. Since the NBA went to the current playoff format in 1984, the Game 1 winner has won 17 of the 24 Finals series played (Lakers have twice been the exception in 1988 and 2001). The last time a Game 1 winner failed to go on and become champion was during the 2006 NBA Finals when the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in Games 1 and 2 before losing the series in six games. Including the 2006 Heat, only three teams in league history have come back from 0-2 deficits to win the NBA Finals: Boston in 1969, Portland in 1977 and Miami in 2006. The Lakers are 2-14 all-time when losing both Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals in six games after losing Games 1 and 2 and defeating the San Francisco Warriors in the 1969 Western Division Semifinals in six games after losing Games 1 and 2.

Now the series gets even more exciting as it shifts to the Staples Center for games 3, 4 and 5 where the Lakers are 8-0 in the playoffs and will be fighting for their life. The Western swing will change the complexion of this series. Stay tuned folks.

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