The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who would like to know where the bleep Boston's killer instinct is. When he's not freaking the bleep out over the Celtics playing stall ball, he can be found venting his bleeping angst over it at bleeping Basketbawful. Enjoy!
Well, that was bleeping ridiculous. With 7:55 left to go in Game 2, the Celtics were up 95-71. And they obviously figured — as did most people watching the game, I'm guessing — that a 24-point fourth-quarter lead was pretty safe. The Boston bench was all grins and giggles. Paul Pierce broke out in a huge smile after getting called for traveling. It was good times, good times ... for everybody except the Lakers. So, naturally, the Mamba slithered into the team huddle and bared his fangs.
After the game, this is how Kobe described the Matt Foley-esque motivational speech he gave his teammates. "Get our bleep in gear. Play bleep harder, a bunch of other bleeps. It's beep, beep, beep, beep. 'Eddie Murphy Raw' times 10."
And the Lakers bleeping responded. From that point on, L.A. went on a 31-9 run — thanks to an NBA finals record-tying seven three-pointers — to make it 104-102 with 38.4 ticks left on the clock. And the Celtics must have been been ready to bleeping pee themselves. But Paul Pierce drew a foul, connected on two free throws, and
smacked Sasha Vujacic's hand blocked Sasha Vujacic's three-point attempt to put a bleeping stop to L.A.'s near-miracle comeback. James Posey then sealed the deal by hitting a pair of foul shots with 12.6 seconds left.
Said Boston coach Doc Rivers: "We've got to play for 48 minutes, and I didn't think we did that. I thought we got cute when we got the lead." Well, no bleeping bleep, Doc. Thanks for that expert analysis. Hey, I've got a question: Who's job is it to keep the Celtics from getting all cutesy-pie when they're up by a jillion? Oh. Right. It's yours. I sort of forgot. And so did you, apparently.
Pierce, gimpy knee and all, powered the Celtics with 28 points (9-for-16), 4 rebounds and 8 assists. Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Ray Allen added 17 points. Rajon Rondo had a personal playoff-best 16 assists. Leon Ka-Powe surprised the Lakers and the world by going off for 21 points in only 15 minutes. Boston shot a blistering 53 percent and had 31 assists on 36 baskets. Oh, and they had a wee little advantage at the line. Like, a 38-10 advantage.
To put that into perspective, Powe out-free throwed the Lakers by himself (13-10). And that fact wasn't lost on Phil Jackson, who was bleeping pissed about it. "I've never seen a game like that in all these years I've coached in the finals. Unbelievable." (Note: It may not have happened in the finals, but he's seen a game like this. Oh yes, he most certainly has...)
Kobe led the Lakers in points (30), shots (23), misses (12), assists (8) and bleeps (47). L.A. also got double-doubles out of Pau Gasol (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Vladimir Radmanovic (13 points, 10 rebounds). Lamar Odom chipped in with 10 points and 8 boards. And Vujacic and Jordan Farmar came off the bench to hit 5-for-7 from three-point range.
And how to the Celtics feel about building a 2-0 series lead despite almost choking away a 24-point lead? Said Pierce: "We're happy because we won, but we definitely learned a lesson." I bleeping hope so.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in L.A.