The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who's starting to think HE could beat one of these squads on his homecourt. That's how impossible it is for NBA teams to win on the road right now. When he's not having delusions of grandeur here, he can be found having delusion of grandeur at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
Not in our house! Part I. LeBron broke out of his shooting slump (for almost one half, anyway), Kevin Garnett finally submitted a dominant performance (it only took five games), and there was a nice little duel between Rajon Rondo and Delonte "The Pirate" West (see below). But while the circumstances may have changed, the final result did not: Boston maintained their homecourt dominance by beating Cleveland 96-89. But at least LeBron's mom wasn't around to go apeshit. So that's something.
King James (35 points, 12-for-25, 5 assists) scored 23 points in the first 20 minutes, but he hit only one bucket in the next 20, thanks mostly to some shutdown D from Paul Pierce. (I know. Who knew?) But other than King and West (21 points, 4 assists, 4 steals), the rest of the Cavs — SHOCK ALERT!! — sucked basketball. Zydrunas Ilguaskas had 6 points and 7 boards, Ben Wallace (4 points, 4 boards) played like he was still dizzy, and Wally World (10 points, 3-for-8) must be trying out for Saturday Night Live, because he's honed his Larry Hughes impression to perfection (you knew it was coming).
Kevin Garnett (26 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks) put his stamp on the game, especially during the pivotal third quarter when the Celtics outscored Cleveland 29-17. In addition to putting baby ... I mean, LeBron ... in a corner, Pierce scored 29 points and grabbed 7 boards. And Rajon Rondo (20 points, 9-for-15, 13 assists) officially took Ray Allen's spot in The New Big Three.
Boston now leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 on Friday in Cleveland.
Quote of the game: Delonte West, who's suffering from an unspecified eye condition and therefore left the court during the Celtics' introduction to avoid the smoke, said: "It's hard to play this game with one eye unless you're a pirate."
Boston is the new Los Angeles: The TD Banknorth Garden crowd had an unusual number of celebrities in attendance, including Robe Lowe (okay, that's a stretch these days), Jay-Z, Beyonce, Louis C.K. (I had no idea you could win an emmy for stand-up comedy), Johan Hill (the fat kid from Superbad), Donnie Wahlberg (isn't his brother the celebrity?), JoJo Levesque and a bunch of the New England Patriots (they were probably taping the Cavaliers' defensive signals).
Not in our house! Part II. The Lakers were obviously happy to be back in the Staples Center, where the free throws — 42 to be exact — flow fast and free. For them, anyway. And it turned out that L.A. didn't even need Kobe or his back in the fourth quarter, during which the Lakers outscored the Jazz 30-23 — and 8-2 in the final minute — to hold on for a 111-104 win.
Mamba led his team with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but actually allowed his teammates to carry the burden in the final period. And Pau Gasol (21 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists) and Lamar Odom (22 points, 11 rebounds) were more than happy to do so. (There are now three sets of prints on the game ball.)
The Lakers led the whole way, but Utah pulled to within 103-102 with 2:18 left. But Pau Gasol scored the next four points and the rest was played for posterity. Utah's starting five did most of the damage for
Jerry Sloan, particularly Deron Williams (27 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists), Carlos Boozer (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Mehmet Okur (13 points, 13 boards).
L.A. now leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 on Friday in Utah.
Stat watch: The Lakers' D.J. Mbenga played one second, thus earning himself a Super Mario.
Fun fact: Home teams are now 19-1 in the second round. Which means they should probably just skip the Game 6s and go right to the Game 7s.