The NBA Playoffs: Day 19: Lakers Have a Meltdown

Kobe Bryant hides his face in disgust (and shame?) as the Lakers
blew a 7-point lead in the last 2 minutes of the game.  Thunder up 2-1
(Photo by Getty Images)

#KidClutch #ThunderStrike
Anything happens in the NBA. Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder managed to steal a win from the Lakers in the last two minutes after being down by 7 points. I thought that the Lakers had this game in the bag to go back to LA tied at 1-1. Gasol and Bynum played good enough (better compared to Game 1) to allow the Lakers to win this game. But the Thunder had other plans and they never gave up. Of course, they had help from the Lakers who had a mini-meltdown with their bad shots and turnovers during the clutch. Credit the Thunder for increasing the pressure and intensity of their defense to force the Lakers into mistakes. Finally, Kevin Durant made the key basket in the last minute while Kobe missed his shots and Steve Blake too. Kid Clutch made the clutch basket while the best closer (Kobe) in the game helped close it for the Thunder with his failed hero ball.

#KobeTime #unclutch
The open three by Steve Blake was a good shot. It was the right basketball play: uncontested and in rhythm. That was his shot and he can make those. In fact, he made a bunch of those to help the Lakers win Game 7 vs the Nuggets. He just missed it this time. Kobe's reaction and body language after Blake missed the shot was so negative and damaging to Blake and his teammates. Kobe had his chances and he missed two shots and had two turnovers in the last minutes. It can be argued that he lost them the game (he also shot 9-25). I know he wanted the ball at that time but he ran to the opposite side of where the inbounds play was happening. Throwing him a cross-court pass was more risky compared to passing it to Blake who was wide open. Artest made the safe choice by passing to the strong side. The series aint over yet but it will be tough for the Lakers to bounce back especially when Games 3-4 are back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday.

#ubuntu #blowout
During the 2008 championship run of the Celtics, they had this African motto of "ubuntu" which personified selflessness and team concepts. They played as a team and for each other. The first two games lacked that mentality from the Celtics and they were lucky to leave Boston with a split since the Sixers outplayed them in both games. In Game 3 it was a different story as they dominated the Sixers with their "ubuntu" mantra. The Celtics came out strong and aggressive with their offense clicking on all cylinders. They shot 52% from the field, had 26 assists and had 7 turnovers plus they out-rebounded the Sixers. This was a perfect team game for the Celtics and the Sixers had no answer after the 1st period which ended with them up by 5. From there on, the Celtics owned the middle quarters to build a 27-point lead. The fourth quarter was mostly garbage time already.

#BigTicket #big3
Kevin Garnett continues to defy father time. At age 36 (his birthday is this weekend), he has been playing his best basketball (regular season included) in the last three years. He seems to be the KG of old (Minnesota T'wolves version) who put up numbers that border 20 and 10. He finished Game 3 with 27 and 13 as he torched the Sixers with his jumpers and his post game. KG made sure that he made up for his poor performance in their last game that led to a loss. As a bonus, he was not called for an illegal screen in the last minutes of the game since he was resting on the bench. The Celtics big3 of KG, PP and Rondo were superb for this game as they combined for 74 points, 31 rebounds and 22 assists. They were aggressive from the opening tip off and never let go until garbage time. I think the Celtics got extra motivation from seeing the Pacers beat the Heat last night. The Celtics must be thinking about advancing into the East Finals as quick as possible and make minced meat out of the Heat or Pacers.

#Tweet/Quote of the Night
"Blowing 7-point lead in last 2 minutes at Oklahoma City? Sorry Lakers, Dallas already tried that. Good way to get swept." -Tim Cowlishaw (@TimCowlishaw), ESPN panelist and Dallas Morning News writer

#News #stats

  • Kobe is 1-7 in the playoffs when the Lakers are down 0-2 to start a series 
  • Thunder are still undefeated in the playoffs (Spurs also)
  • Westbrook has only 1 turnover in the series (3.6 turnovers in the regular season)
  • Celtics are +47 when Garnett is on the floor, -31 when KG sits
  • Kobe shooting 16-43 and 1-9 from three vs the Thunder
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