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Friday, June 13th, 2008 at 9:42 am  |  31 responses

NBA Finals: Game 4 Notes

This is the end.

by Marcel Mutoni

The noise, or lack thereof, is really quite awful.

When the air is completely taken out of a building; when you can actually feel the life being sucked from the bodies of nearly 20,000 people. That’s what it was like last night inside the Staples Center, as we helplessly looked on and saw our beloved Lakers give up a commanding 24-point lead, and their championship hopes in the process.

The slow, long, and shameful walk out of the building was equally torturous, as the elevators and stairways were packed with long faces, people shaking their heads in utter disbelief at what they had just witnessed.

It was one of the worst Playoffs losses in franchise history, and it hurt like hell.

From the start of the evening’s festivities, there was no indication that this would be anything but a joyous Laker victory.

The crowd was ear-splittingly loud (randomly starting up inspired “Boston Sucks!” chants and a derisive “Wheelchair” one for Paul Pierce), and after a stirring National Anthem, the Lakers immediately jumped on the Celtics – led by a rejuvenated Lamar Odom – and looked as though they would completely blow them out of the water.

(The part of the arena where my brother and I were sitting was full of interesting and colorful characters. There was a guy to our right who took off his shirt as soon as he got to his seat, revealing a torso full of tattoos.

When he stood up and turned around, it became quite clear that he had once taken a bullet to the left side of his lower back. Needless to say, very little eye contact was made with this man.)

It began slowly of course, the collapse, as Boston methodically chipped away at L.A.’s lead right before the halftime break. When things began to look a little dicey, Jordan Farmar raced down the middle of the court and hit a running banker to beat the buzzer at the end of the second quarter.

It was the last feel-good moment of the game for the Lakers and their fans.

In the second half, things completely unraveled, L.A.’s players couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives, became allergic to the paint, and the Celtics began connecting from all over the floor.

And what to make of Kobe Bryant? On the biggest night of the season, he was, quite simply, ordinary. His shooting percentage was ghastly, and he played with the energy of someone who was about to undergo a root canal.

The big lead – and the resulting lack of urgency – put Bryant’s guard down, and when he realized that he would have to put on his Superman cape, it was too late. The damage had been done, and now, he must face another long and frustrating summer.

You’ve gotta give Boston all of the credit in the world. They did what they set out to do from the start of the year, faced enormous pressure along the way (from the press, the wildly passionate fans, and their own lofty expectations), and overcame plenty of obstacles – including their own head coach.

(Speaking of Rivers: His boneheaded refusal to yank Sam Cassell in favor of Eddie House became so absurd, that Laker fans actually gave him a standing ovation when they realized that House would be glued to the bench for long stretches of the game. It was one of the funniest things that I’ve ever witnessed.

Unfortunately for us, Doc eventually came to his senses and stuck with House for much of the second half, and the rest is history.)

The Celtics are clearly the better team – especially on the defensive end – and as much as it pains me to admit it, they absolutely deserve the championship they’re about to win.

I’m going to Vegas this weekend. Heavy gambling and strippers. Yeah, that sounds like the perfect remedy for a loss of this magnitude. And if that doesn’t work, I hear the holes in the desert are quite cozy.

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  • http://www.clutchfans.com Hursty

    1st!

  • http://www.clutchfans.com Hursty

    sounds bad Mutoni….now where are the news/rumours thingies?

  • http://www.freewebs.com/betcats BETCATS

    i still think Luke Walton being a idiot and trying to hard to be sexy, the ability of Sasha only to make shots when Kobe passes to him, the lack of playtime for Trevor Ariza after the 6 points in 6 minutes, lacck of ball touches for Odom after going 7/7, bad freethrow shooting, Kevin Garrnet and Kobe are why the lakers lost.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Poor Marcel. I’m surprised you aren’t giving them a shot at a comeback though. It still isn’t over.

  • matt the jazz fan

    @Eboy: it’s over. LA lost whatever mojo it may have garnered in game 3.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Kobe Bryant is why the Lakers lost, up by 20+ at home and having your leader whimp-out like that. He was outscored by Posey for chrissake.

  • Benoit Benjamin

    I picked the Cels to win it but i’m surprised by how kobe plays. He’s still the man though and we’ll probably have a 50 points effort in game 5 and a lakers victory before pierce raises his MVP trophy back in Boston after game 6.

  • B. Long

    Save me a seat at the Crazy Beaver!

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

  • ali

    Good lord why is everyone being so pessimistic? And the hate for KB is really strong..its like no one wants him to be successful. KB is playing injured this year and we do not know what the future will bring. Nobody even thought that the lakers were going to get into the playoffs this year and here they are in the finals. The game is a growing process, u dont just jump from being bumped in the 1st round to winning a ring. The fact that the celtics might win a ring after not making the playoffs last year is an aberration, that never happens. I am disappointed by kobe`s and the lakers overall performance in this series but lets not act like we all assumed they were going to be in the finals anyway.. it would be nice if they win this year but it takes time and success comes after failure. Also, if the lakers somehow manage to get to game 7, they can still win the title because its not like the celtics have been conveniencingly beating the lakers, a little luck the other way and the lakers would be up 3-1. A serious adjustment has to be made by pj and people have to step up and want it. This is a young team and mistakes will happen but it is the responses to this mistakes that define character so lets see what happens in game 5 first before we start calling the lakers losers and quitters.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I feel bad for Mutoni because I know he paid a small fortune for those tickets.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Word. Sorry homie.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Crazy Horse will make it better.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    My heart was with you last night, MM.

  • Colin

    Honestly I think people really forgor that the team wit hthe biggest advantage wins the series. The Celts D is > than the Lakers O, The Celts O in the halfcourt is > the Lakers D, and the Celts outrebound the Lakers. The Lakers looked so smooth and good in the playoffs that many people got a little lost to the way the playoffs usually play out. Doesn’t this Celtics team remind you of the good Spurs teams?

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    Offense doesn’t win championships? WTF?

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Doc Rivers > Phil Jackson.

  • namik

    no, doc rivers is more motivated than phil jackson, not better.

  • argentine pro baller

    “…and as much as it pains me to admit it, they absolutely deserve the championship they’re about to win.” man thats just stupid , kobe bryant wont let that happen, at least not in LA. that guy has so much talent and takes losses very very badly so my money is on LA next game, i truly think if some role players in LA step up an realise their playing in the fnals the laker could/should win the series.
    The truth about the celitcs is that their role players are steppin up , because the “big
    3″ are not thet great and are not that good to win by therselfs

  • WhaHuh

    BETCATS is 100% right. Phil never play Luke again

  • The Promise

    I had a feeling the lakers would get complacent and let the Celtics back in the game. Sasha, Pau, and Lamar all left their games in the locker room in the second half. This was not all Kobes fault. No matter how great he is, he cant carry his team every game. He has to have some help. But for all intents and purposes, Paul Pierce outplayed him in the second half. They guarded each other, and Pierce got around Kobe while Kobe couldnt get around Pierce. Paul did have some help on defense, but he done a great job on the one on one chances he had against him even when Kobe happened to make the shot. Pirce looked like his old self, hittin fadeaway jumpers off the dribble, takin it to the hole and takin contact and still makin the shot, I mean, I jumped out of my seat when he made that reverse layup and got fouled. It was awesome. Ray Allen played like the guy I watched in Seattle finally instead of a guy that just stands and waits for a teammate to drive and kick it to him for a 3. He took Sasha to the hole 2 times and schooled him, especially when he scored on him with the left hand. That iced the game. It was not really a choke, it was an incredible effort by the Celtics to overcome a ton of adversity and win the game. The Lakers were simply outplayed in every facet of the game in the second half, and they forgot how they got there and it got them beat.

  • Slobodan Chutzpah

    Namik: more motivated is always better.

  • Slobodan Chutzpah

    BTW, Mutoni’s piece tells an altogether different story than Simmons’ Game 4 diary with regard to the crowd. Simmons repeatedly ripped the LA crowd throughout his column as consisting mostly of Hollywood wannabes and rich fairweather fans who’d pushed the real fans out by hiking up the ticket prices. Although, admittedly, I only saw the game on TV, the crowd certainly seemed really flat and far from raucous.

  • Marcel Mutoni

    just read simmons’s piece. he watched the game on tv as well. the crowd was into it before the collapse, and when we realized what was taking place, everyone was appropriately stunned into silence.

  • http://canadianballer.blogspot.com/ Karma

    The Celtics have looked like the better team ALL SERIES. From the first game to last night, there was not one point in any of the games that I thought the Lakers looked dominant. And this is coming from a big Lakers fan. The Lakers will have to completely revamp the way they play in these next 3 games. That means, more energy off the bench, more showing up by players not named Kobe, and, sorry to say, but smarter coaching by Coach Jackson. He is getting outcoached and outprepared by Doc Frickin Rivers.

  • JC

    Lakers have no chance to comeback. The only game they did win, Pierce and KG had horrendous nights. Laker fans can argue Pau and LO had bad games too but Pierce and KG to the Celtics is like Kobe is to the Lakers. Lakers cannot win a game with Kobe plays bad – clearly seen game 1,2, and 4. Even if Kobe wills his team past game 5 back to Boston, I just don’t see the series going past game 6.

    It doesn’t even matter, if LA doesn’t win it this year, they will win it very very soon. Kobe and Fisher are the oldest members on the lakers and they are only like 30. Kobe still has at least 3-4 prime years left. He will get his. I’m just so happy for KG to finally get his ring. I mean he put his heart and soul for the Wolves and never complained about anything, contrary to Kobe who started b*tching about his teammates after a few unsuccessive years.

    Screw the “Truth”, KG for finals mvP!!

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Kobe can’t do it without Shaq. Sorry.

  • bballer

    Mo charles,
    Shaq can’t do it without a superstar guard. Sorry.

  • bballer

    Ali, well said

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