Pregame — Are you ready? We are. Ben and I are here in Boston, sitting high above the court. Keep hitting that refresh button, because for the next four hours I’ll be doing my best to bring this game to you, live and direct.
We’re about twenty minutes from tipoff here in the TD BankGardenFleetNorthCenterGarden, or whatever it’s called. Just had pregame dinner, which was, I swear, lobster, mussels and roast beef. And it was amazing. There were some sportswriters spraying lobster juice all over the place. And they didn’t even have bibs.
We left the media dining room and got over to the elevators, where there were about 20 people waiting, including Kareem, Bill Russell and Dr. J. That was pretty cool. James Taylor just performed the National Anthem and made it into elevator music, which really fired up the Boston fans.
Time to meet the LA Lakers. Kobe is intro’d last and the fans are furious. Phil Jackson is lustily booed as well, but he graciously waves to the crowd, as if Holyfield just won the fight.
The lights go out, and the Celts are announced. Paul Pierce and KG appear on the scoreboard screaming at the fans, and the fans scream right back. I’m not so sure these 9:00 p.m. starts are a good idea when the arena is surrounded by bars and stuff.
The Celtics mascot is a leprechaun, though I’m not so sure it’s actually a leprechaun — I think it might just be a guy with red hair. He’s wearing stilts and huge foam hands. The fans start up with the “Beat LA!” chants. I’m so high up in the arena that I think Matt Walsh is next to me with a videocamera trained on Phil Jackson.
Good sign spotted with a picture of Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men” and the words LA CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.
12:00, 1Q: Here we go, and it’s loud in here. I’m having to yell to Ben, and he’s sitting right next to me. By the way, Dick Bavetta is in the house. He’s the only ref I can see from up here. Lakers win the tip and Fisher/Gasol execute a simple pick/roll to put LA ahead. The Lakers come back and bring Ray Allen off a curl and he walks.
11:16, 1Q: LA traps Pierce, forces him to swing it around the horn to Rajon Rondo, who clanks the ball long. After an LA turnover, KG hits a 16-footer to tie it up and give Boston their first two of the Finals.
9:35, 1Q: Think anyone outside of LA would recognize Vlad Rad on the street?
8:42, 1Q: Pierce picks up his first foul on a jumper from Fisher. Really dumb foul by P-Double. Ray Allen drives and dishes to Rondo, who finally hits one from the baseline. Then some guy on the Lakers hits a long jumper. He’s a white guy who wears number 10. Never seen him before.
7:02, 1Q: KG just drove around Gasol and hammered the ball to tie the game at 10. The crowd is loving it and KG looks like he’s so intense that he’s about to bleed from his eyes. Kobe takes his first shot, a fadeaway jumper from the baseline. Awfully quiet thus far, Mr. Bryant.
5:58, 1Q: First break in action with the score knotted at 10. A bunch of kid dancers take the court to perform some sort of routine that seems kind of forced. Half of the kids belong to Greg Minor, I bet.
1:48, 1Q: I think I’m back…maybe. The internet has been less reliable than Sam Cassell thus far. I mentioned this to a guy from NBA PR and now there’s like a dozen guys behind me in suits and with walkie talkies. It’s 21-19 right now, Boston. Kobe just tied it up. Boston seems intent on working it in against Gasol, and KG’s been working him.
END OF FIRST: Boston 23, L.A. 21. Huge play at the end of the first, with Farmar looping a pass to Gasol under the rim but Boston recovering and managing to force a turnover. KG has 8 and 4 in the first, and Gasol leads LA with 6 points. Boston seems to be winning the hustle battle, but I think Kobe is cruising right now, waiting to turn it on.
Also, Tedy Bruschi and Randy Moss are in the house.
9:52, 2Q: Lamar to the line, LA is down 4. Cassell is in, and he nailed the first shot he took. On the scoreboard trough the game is the word “ARBELLA,” which must be the sponsor of…I don’t know, just the view of the game? Seems kinda magnanimous. Cassell is alive tonight, just hit another jumper.
8:46, 2Q: Boston’s up 29-24, time out on the floor. Boston almost has more offensive rebounds than LA does total boards. And LA has a robust -8 rating while Derek Fisher is on the court.
7:25, 2Q: Just bumped into NBA TV host (and Sam Rubenstein favorite) Andre Aldridge, who said he feels as though both teams look a little tight early on.
7:08 2Q: OK, Kobe just hit a baseline jumper to make it 34-33, and then LA score right back courtesy of KG. Then LA goes to D-Fish. Why don’t they try and get no. 24 going? Weird. (BTW, maybe they’re reticent to feed him and fan him because he’s 3-9 thus far.)
6:01, 2Q: KG is just eating Pau Gasol alive, perhaps inside a nice paella. Timeout Boston, up 40-35. The crowd is into it, people are screaming…but LA is just 5 points down.
5:49, 2Q: Out of the timeout, Damn Cassell draws a charge on Kobe, and Kobe looks furious. Damn Cassell looks like he hit the lotto he’s so excited. Next time down, Kobe draws a foul and goes to the line. If his shots aren’t going down, he’ll figure out another way to score. Kobe makes both and LA trails 40-37.
4:37, 2Q: KG’s got 16 points now, and Boston’s trying to force it to him. The Lakers end up getting a bucket, then Boston blows a breakaway layup, turns it over and allows Fisher to hit two free throws to take the lead. Wow. Horrible sequence for for Boston.
3:05, 2Q: Odom hits a runner to make it 45-42. Boston looks exhausted again, and LA is running them right now. Thought: God made Lamar Odom completely unable to use his right hand because if he could go right as well as left he’d be too good.
2:48, 2Q: The scoreboard shows us several looks at fans in Brian Scalabrine jerseys or shirts. No idea he’d be such a fan favorite. Totally shocked by that.
Halftime: The half ended really quickly; things really got out of hand there. It’s 51-46 after one, LA leads. Kobe hasn’t gotten going, Boston’s had the momentum, they’ve got KG’s 16 and 6…but LA just took the lead away from them, sort of easily, actually. This doesn’t look good for Boston, I think.
Lobster surprise! I gotta run find the bathr…well, I’ll be back for the third.
OK, the internet is allegedly working again. Let’s give this another try…
8:43, 3Q: tie game. Boston started the quarter with a four-point play, which was a pretty good play for Doc Rivers to come up with. Gasol with a nice dish, then Kobe makes one of those drives where he goes from one wing around the free throw line and then down to the other baseline and bangs in a line drive. Lakers go ahead 62-58. And as everyone runs back down, Pierce is down under the basket. No one can tell what happened, and it’s hard to see a replay of it because there’s no TV around me. But Pierce eventually gets carried off into the locker room to a smattering of applause. Wow. That could be huger than huge.
6:49, 3Q: BTW, biggest cheer of the night was when they showed clips of the Red Sox and Devil Rays fighting over at Fenway.
6:00, 3Q: Kobe’s taken the last three LA shots, but made just one. LA still has a 62-59 lead. Then Ray Allen nails a three and ties it up at 62. These fans are just waiting for something to cheer about, but the C’s haven’t been giving it to them.
5:26, 3Q: Paul “Willis” Pierce comes limping out of the tunnel and they show it on the scoreboard, and the crowd erupts. He has a knee brace on but looks like he’s OK. As Ray Allen knocks down a free throw to go up 63-62, Pierce checks in and Phil Jackson takes a timeout to quiet the crowd. I’d have let them yell and hoped they distracted Allen.
3:40, 3Q: With a four point lead, KG hacks the crap out of Vujacic on a three point attempt, and he nails all three free throws to cut it to one, 68-67. KG looks like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Then Kobe catches an oop from Fish that he double-pumps in the air. LA takes a 69-68 lead.
1:00, 3Q: Paul Pierce just wetted back to back three pointers from the wing to make it Boston 75, LA 71. The crowd is getting rowdy, chanting Beat LA! I think Phil Jackson just stifled a yawn.
End Of Three: Kobe and Rondo trade free throw attempts. Boston is up 4 and they hold for the last shot. Rondo gets doubled(!) by Lamar Odom and the C’s end up not scoring. Boston leads after three, 77-73. BTW, I apologize for the sporadic posting. Much like our forefathers said years ago, the internet is not a right, it’s a gift. I will use it when it’s available. I’m trying not to get too fired up about it sucking. And Scoop Jackson in the house, too. Scoop comes over to tell me that there’s two cameramen somewhere here who are Hawks fans and wanted to tell me hello. That makes three of us, guys.
10:31, 4Q: Kobe can’t get it going, but Odom is saving him thus far. Biggest problem for LA is that they can’t get a rebound; Boston has a 3:2 advantage.
9:12, 4Q: James Posey is open in the corner! James Posey is wide open! Cassell shoots instead. And misses. Next time down, Posey gets his chance and nails it, 86-78 with 8:42 to go. I do not know if Mr. Bryant is going to wake up and take over, but this would be a nice time.
8:23, 4Q: Kobe isn’t in the game out of the timeout. Huh? Luckily the Lakers come out and turn it over.
7:31, 4Q: D-Fish drains a three to make it 86-80. Kobe is stweing on the bench, I assume? Can’t see from here and not getting much help via the scoreboard.
7:03, 4Q: KG has Turiaf in the post but passes it out to Damn Cassell at the three point line and causes a 24 second violation.
6:47, 4Q: Sasha! Three! Lakers down 4. Everyone on the bench cheers but Kobe, Ben says. Pau Gasol must own real estate in the paint as much as he hangs around under the rim with no three-second calls.
5:48, 4Q: Timeout on the floor, a time out with the score Boston 86, Los Angeles 82. Kobe looks as though he’s still out of the game. Wouldn’t that be something if the Lakers win this thing without Kobe? Can’t happen, can it? Next thing I know you’ll tell me that Rajon Rondo is starting at the point for a team in the NBA Finals.
5:21, 4Q: Big 4 point swing on a miss by Kobe and a make by Pierce. Boston leads 86-82.
4:29, 4Q: Luke Walton rises from obscurity and checks into the game, then immediately fouls PJ Brown. Oh the grace, the power, the disruption. My old coach at UCLA, John Wooden, used to tell me that…
3:43, 4Q: Boston is hanging in there. 88-82, and Pierce hits one, then two free throws to make it 90-82. LA’s trying to play small, with Sasha and Fish in at the guards and KB at the 3, but Boston ain’t having it.
2:57, 4Q: With 5 fouls in his hip, Lamar drives to the basket and collides with PJ Brown. Looks like it could go either way, but PJ gets the foul, and the basket is good, and one. 90-85, Boston.
2:42, 4Q: By the way, there are a lot of white people in this arena. I mean, a LOT of white people here.
2:34, 4Q: Ray Allen just missed a free throw. That’s like his fourth miss of the entire Playoffs. 91-85, Boston. I wouldnt be surprised if a cell phone video of Kobe talking ish about Vujacic at the mall shows up online.
1:49, 4Q: Boston 91, LA 86. Then, with 1:30 to go, KG catches a Pierce miss for a two-handed jam that raises the roof and effectively finishes off the Lakers. Boston hangs on and wins it 98-88. Wow. And someone on that Lakers bench has some ‘splaining to do.
Everyone was thinking this series was LA’s to lose, and they started losing it tonight.
Goodnight you moonlight ladies, and rockabye Sweet Baby KB.