The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who felt like he got punched in the nuts twice last night. When he's not sort of hating himself for loving the wrong teams, he can be found weeping softly at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
The mistakes by the lake. The worst part about a game like this is that either team has to win. But them's the rules, so the Cleveland Cavaliers "won" 74-69 to force a Game 7 in Boston. Which, if it's anything like Game 6, will hopefully eliminate both teams from the playoffs. Has that ever happened? Well, it should.
The Celtics shot a blistering 39 percent for the game. At least, it was blistering compared to Cleveland's freeze-tastic 32 percent shooting. But the Cavs more than made up the difference at the line, almost doubling up the C's. In fact, LeBron had more attempts (15) than the entire Celtics squad (13). The biggest beef with the zebras, though, came with 49.9 seconds left and Cleveland leading 72-67. Paul Pierce was called for a ticky-tac charging foul against King James - apparently you can't even touch him now - that had Doc Rivers at a loss for words. Said the Doc: "I thought the charge call on Paul...well, you guys can take it from there. I mean, that's a huge call...to make, but listen, we played hard. I'm just going to stop there."
LeBron shot 9-for-23 and committed 8 turnovers, but he finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. More importantly, King James drove in a hoop and then hit an off-balance jumper from 17 feet out to give the Cavaliers a commanding 69-60 lead in the final minutes. Which, obviously, the Celtics couldn't overcome, thanks also to a timely three-pointer by Wally Szczerbiak (who knew?) and a couple free throws by Joe Smith (yes, he's getting the crunch time minutes).
Kevin Garnett (25 points, 8 rebounds) scored 8 points in a 13-0 Boston run to help the Celtics recover from a 15 point lead, but, well, it didn't matter. Paul Pierce added 16 points, Ray Allen had 9, and Rajon Rondo — who killed Cleveland in Game 5 — scored only 2.
Game 7 is Sunday in Boston. Which comes one day before Game 7 of the Spurs-Hornets series, even though Game 6 of that series happened one day before Game 6 of this series. WTF, David Stern?
The road team jinx if finally broken. 2-21. That's the new and improved composite record for road teams in the second round of this year's playoffs after the Los Angeles Lakers held survived a madcap rally by the Utah Jazz to win 108-105. The Lakers now advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the last time they did it. There they will face either a young team with an injured All-Star and no bench or an ancient team that's transforming to dust before our very eyes. And that sound you just heard was the explosive power of David Stern's massive erection.
Kobe Bryant shook off his fake back injury to score 34 points — 12 of which came in the fourth quarter — and grab 8 rebounds. His performance was complimented nicely by the play of Pau Gasol (17 points, 13 rebounds), Derek Fisher (16 points), and Lamar Odom (13 points, 9 rebounds). Sasha Douchbagacic came off the Lakers bench to score 12 points and hit 2-for-3 from distance.
The Jazz couldn't shoot (38 percent) or defend (50 percent for L.A.), but they fought and scrambled to outscore the Lakers 35-22 in the fourth. Deron Williams (21 points, 14 assists) led the charge, but he missed a three-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied the game. Mehmet Okur (16 points, 10 rebounds) drilled a couple threes during Utah's fourth-quarter comeback, but he also missed a game-tying three at the end. Carlos Boozer (12 points, 14 rebounds) continued to slump (5-for-16), and his lousy play probably cost the Jazz this series. Good job, Carlos.