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Monday, June 09, 2008

Celtics Build 24 Point Lead, Survive Huge Lakers Rally to Win Game Two, 108-102

The Boston Celtics led the L.A. Lakers 95-71 with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter but the Lakers pulled to within 104-102 before the Celtics escaped with a 108-102 win. Paul Pierce, showing no ill effects from his game one knee injury, led the Celtics with 28 points on 9-16 shooting from the field. He also had eight assists and four rebounds. Leon Powe came off of the bench to contribute a playoff career-high 21 points in just 14:39, shooting 6-7 from the field. Kevin Garnett controlled the boards with a game-high 14 rebounds but scored just 17 points on 7-19 field goal shooting. Ray Allen had an efficient 17 points on 6-11 field goal shooting. Rajon Rondo only scored four points on 1-4 field goal shooting but he had 16 assists, six rebounds and just two turnovers. P.J. Brown did not have huge individual numbers (six points on 3-4 field goal shooting, three rebounds) but he had a +20 plus/minus number, easily a game-high total, and that reflects not only his impact but also how completely the Celtics' bench outplayed the much vaunted--and overrated--Lakers' bench. Kobe Bryant finished with 30 points, eight assists and four rebounds, shooting 11-23 from the field. He had 13 points and two assists during the Lakers' 31-9 fourth quarter run that almost turned into the biggest comeback in Finals history. Pau Gasol had decent numbers (17 points on 8-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists) but for the second game in a row he was very quiet offensively in the second half (four points). Vladimir Radmanovic struggled terribly for most of the game but he scored seven points during the late comeback, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Lamar Odom added 10 points and eight rebounds but he made a lot of bad plays at both ends of the court and he was the only Lakers starter who had a negative plus/minus number (-13). Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of Odom, "He looked like a confused player out there at times."

The Celtics only outrebounded the Lakers 37-36, which frankly is hard to believe because while watching the game it seemed like the Celtics got every loose ball and key rebound. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 9-3 during the late run, so that is part of what made the final numbers closer. The Lakers shot 41-83 from the field (.494), including 10-21 from three point range (.476), but of course those numbers were also skewed a bit by the late rally, during which the Lakers made five of their Finals record-tying seven fourth quarter three pointers. The Celtics shot 36-68 from the field (.529), including 9-14 from three point range (.643). The Lakers' defense was horrible, particularly in the second and third quarters when they gave up 63 points. Another huge factor was the incredible free throw disparity: the Celtics shot 27-38 (.711) from the free throw line, while the Lakers shot just 10-10, the fourth fewest free throw attempts ever in an NBA Finals game. Some of that can be attributed to the Celtics being more aggressive and opportunistic but there were several times that various Lakers--particularly Bryant--drove to the hoop and seemed to be fouled but nothing was called; I don't think that this was a conspiracy or anything deliberate, those are just the breaks of the game and Bryant said after the game that you have to play through such situations without losing your aggressiveness. In a game in which the rebounding and points in the paint battles were pretty even it strains credulity a bit to believe that one team was fouling that much more often than the other; the fouls called on the Lakers seemed to be correct and mostly stemmed from them being out of position and thus reaching with their hands instead of sliding their feet but the Celtics also did a lot of reaching and grabbing that was not called. The free throw situation was a factor in the game but it did not decide the outcome. As Bryant said, "What we have to do is get those loose balls, get timely rebounds and stop them from knocking down those transition threes and we'll be fine." Then, he added with a smile, "A free throw or two wouldn't hurt."

Any idea that Allen is primarily guarding Bryant one on one was refuted on the very first possession of the game. Bryant caught the ball in the post and Kendrick Perkins all but abandoned Odom on the perimeter in order to step into the paint and dissuade Bryant from getting into the middle. Bryant made the right read and passed to Odom, who countered the Celtics' rotation by swinging the ball to Radmanovic, who missed a jumper. The only way for the Lakers to punish the Celtics for the extra defensive attention that they are giving to Bryant is for his teammates to make open shots. That is why it is not optimal to have Odom on the same side of the court as Bryant when Bryant posts up; Odom is not a knock down shooter, his driving ability is overrated and, as Coach Jackson noted during his pregame standup, the Celtics led the league in taking charges. That is why it is asinine to make a general statement like "Bryant should drive to the hoop and not settle for the jumper"; it only makes sense to drive against the Celtics from certain angles and against certain matchups. When Bryant posts up it would be best to have a three point shooter in the corner, a three point shooter at the top of the key and Odom crashing the boards from the weak side. Or the Lakers could put Gasol around the top of the key, ready to shoot an 18 foot jumper if his man traps Bryant in the post. Gasol is a much better faceup shooter than Odom. Odom has never completely grasped how to play in the Triangle and how to properly read situations and this is just one example of the "confusion" that Jackson mentioned.

The Lakers scored their first points of the game when Derek Fisher lobbed a pass to Odom, who cut to the hoop and dunked; Odom is much, much more effective offensively as a pressure release player coming in from the weak side than he is as a primary option on the strong side. Garnett missed a jumper on the next possession but Perkins got the offensive rebound and passed to Pierce, who drained a wide open three pointer. Coaches and students of the game know that one of the best times to shoot three pointers is right after an offensive rebound, because the defense is scrambling around.

In what may turn out to be a recurring theme in this series, Radmanovic picked up his second foul very early--this time at the 10:06 mark of the first quarter. Coach Jackson tweaked his rotation, electing not to go with regular substitute Luke Walton or his game one choice of Sasha Vujacic; instead, Jackson deployed Trevor Ariza, a midseason acquisition who has spent most of his time with the team sidelined by injury. ABC's Jeff Van Gundy questioned this move, saying that Ariza's inability to hit an outside shot would hamper the Lakers' offensive attack. In fact, Jackson later conceded that putting Ariza in the game messed up the Lakers' offensive rhythm. Ariza only played a total of 7:19, missing his only shot, grabbing two rebounds and committing two fouls and one turnover while compiling a plus/minus number of -6. Pierce went right at Ariza as soon as he came into the game but he missed a jumper and Bryant grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast to make a running bank shot for his first points. That was an excellent opportunity to drive because the Celtics' defense was not set, so Bryant did not have to worry about committing a charging foul or having his shot blocked. The teams exchanged baskets and then Pierce drove to the hoop, was fouled by Ariza and converted the free throw for a three point play. Van Gundy noted that Ariza had a miscommunication about how to defend that play.

Gasol made a nice left handed hook shot over Garnett to put the Lakers up 10-8 and then Allen missed a three pointer. On the next possession, Bryant posted up Allen and Perkins again double-teamed Bryant. This time, Bryant spun away from the trap, drove along the baseline and passed to Gasol, who let the ball go right through his hands. Gasol pointed to the floor to indicate that he preferred for Bryant to give him a bounce pass but ABC's Mark Jackson retorted, "Give me a catch," saying that Bryant did his job by drawing the defense and that Gasol should have caught the ball and finished the play. To his credit, Gasol posted up the next time, did a nice drop step move against Garnett and dunked the ball. After a Bryant free throw and an Odom tip in the Lakers were up 15-8, which would prove to be their biggest lead of the game. The Celtics answered with an 11-4 run and then Bryant picked up an offensive foul, his second foul of the game. Van Gundy immediately said, "I don't like that call," arguing that there was only marginal contact of the kind that could be called on every play and that it is not right to make such a call unless the officials are truly going to blow their whistles for every such infraction. A good indication of how bad the call was is that Mark Jackson actually agreed with his former coach instead of arguing with him. Bryant sat down at the 1:59 mark with the Lakers leading 19-18. Jordan Farmar hit a late three pointer to give the Lakers a 22-20 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Lakers' bench has been highly praised this season but I have consistently maintained that they are overrated. For one thing, the statistics for reserve players are highly context dependent because they play limited minutes and are able to pad their numbers in garbage time situations. Also, the Lakers' reserves often play alongside Bryant and they are much more effective in that case than they are when they are simply dueling head to head with other reserves. Obviously, with Bryant on the bench in foul trouble the reserves were on their own to start the second quarter--and the result was not pretty: in just 2:20 they committed four turnovers, Vujacic missed a jumper and Farmar missed a wild running shot in the paint. Coach Jackson told ABC's Michele Tafoya between quarters that he planned to keep Bryant out until the 8:59 official timeout--but he had to burn a timeout at the 9:40 mark just to get Bryant back in the game because the Celtics had already made a 10-0 run. Bryant immediately hit a jumper to make the score 30-24 Boston. However, once a team goes on a run and gets confidence and momentum--particularly at home--it is not so easy to get the game back under control. The Lakers briefly got as close as 41-37 but then Pierce and Allen opened things up again with back to back three pointers. Bryant assisted on a Radmanovic three pointer that made the score 47-40 Celtics at the 2:06 mark but right after that Bryant picked up his third foul and went back to the bench; the Celtics closed out the half with a 7-2 run in the last 1:53 as Bryant sat and they led 54-42 at halftime. In the second quarter the Lakers outscored the Celtics 18-17 with Bryant on the court and were outscored 17-2 in the less than four minutes that he was out of the game due to foul trouble. Understandably, during the halftime show Van Gundy said, "The biggest factor in the first half was Bryant's foul trouble."

At the start of the third quarter the Celtics pushed the lead to 58-42 before Odom hit a jumper and Bryant scored on a sensational, twisting drive through the heart of the Celtics' defense. Bryant thought that he was fouled and said so in no uncertain terms to referee Dan Crawford, who immediately hit him with a technical foul. Van Gundy commented, "I love the fire of Kobe Bryant. That is what greatness is all about. An incredible spin move, thought he got hit. Sometimes there is a good time to take a technical foul and make a point." Allen made the technical free throw and then Pierce hit a three pointer to put the Celtics up 62-46 but Bryant scored six points and had an assist in a 13-6 run as the Lakers cut the margin to 68-59. The Lakers had finally found an offensive rhythm by using the one set that has been most consistently effective against Boston, a screen/roll play involving Bryant and Gasol; virtually every time the Lakers run this action they get an open shot for Bryant, Gasol or a player on the weak side. If you want to know the difference between watching a basketball game and understanding it, contrast the post-game "analysis" of Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry with what Van Gundy said during this third quarter stretch: Wilbon and Barry said that the Lakers got in trouble offensively because they went away from the Triangle Offense, while during the flow of the game Van Gundy correctly said, "I love the adjustment by Phil Jackson. No more Triangle. Side pick and roll with Bryant, post Bryant, iso Bryant. Bryant is the one who is going to bring you back in the game. Plays he makes, free throws he makes, shots he creates for himself and his teammates." The Lakers scored three straight baskets in a 1:14 stretch by playing this way: first, Bryant ran a screen/roll with Gasol, passed to Odom and Odom passed to Gasol on the move for an easy dunk; second, Bryant ran a screen/roll with Gasol, split the trap and elevated for a jumper; third, Bryant drew the defense and passed to Gasol for an open jumper.

Unfortunately, Radmanovic--who Coach Jackson has publicly referred to as a "space cadet"--mysteriously got the strange idea that the Lakers' best offensive play is for him to isolate one on one off the dribble and this brainstorm resulted in him missing a jumper and throwing an awful pass that Garnett stole. To make things worse, on each of the ensuing defensive possessions he got burned by Pierce. Mark Jackson said, "Four straight bad possessions by Radmanovic, two on offense and two on defense." Coach Jackson took Radmanovic out at the next stoppage of play but Radmanovic had already effectively killed the Lakers' rally and jump started a Celtics' run that pushed their lead to 83-61 by the end of the quarter.

Bryant assisted on three straight Lakers baskets to start the fourth quarter, the last of which was a Ronny Turiaf dunk after he ran a screen/roll with Bryant. Van Gundy again noted the effectiveness of that play, saying "The side pick and roll has really hurt the Celtics" and adding that even though the Celtics were winning handily that was something they would need to address. Although the Lakers' offense was once again clicking, they could not gain much ground because they were not getting defensive stops. The low point came when Leon Powe received an inbounds pass, dribbled coast to coast and scored an uncontested layup to make the score 93-71 Celtics. Garnett soon made a jumper to put the Celtics up 95-71, their biggest lead of the game. Then Bryant took over and the Lakers almost pulled off a most improbable comeback. First he hit a jumper, then he drew a foul and made both free throws and then he drew the defense before passing to Radmanovic for an open three pointer. Later, in a 1:03 stretch, Bryant made a three pointer, scored on a drive and scored on a tough left handed drive to make the score 104-95 Boston at the 1:50 mark. Fisher stole the ball from Pierce and Vujacic hit a transition three pointer to bring the Lakers within six points and then Radmanovic stole Pierce's pass and raced to the hoop for a dunk that cut the lead to four points. The next time the Celtics had the ball it looked like no one wanted to shoot and Rondo ended up missing a jumper near the end of the shot clock. Bryant got the rebound, drew a foul on Pierce and sank two free throws to pull the Lakers to within 104-102 with :38 left. Amazingly, all the Lakers needed was a stop and a score. Pierce drove to the basket, drew a foul on Fisher and made both free throws. The next sequence is a little hard to understand: after a timeout, Bryant inbounded the ball with :22 left and the Lakers never got the ball back to him. Instead, they wasted eight seconds before Vujacic took a three pointer that Pierce partially blocked. Bryant had popped open at the top of the key before Vujacic shot the ball and there was still enough time for Bryant to score a two pointer, have the Lakers foul, take a shot and then foul again if necessary. Understandably, Bryant did not seem real happy about not getting the ball back in that situation. Two James Posey free throws closed out the scoring.

Someone asked Coach Jackson after the game if the Lakers can carry the momentum from their late rally into game three but he immediately said, "No," quipping that L.A. is 2500 miles away and they cannot carry the momentum for that distance. The last team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the Finals was the 2006 Miami Heat, who trailed for most of game three before Gary Payton hit what turned out to be the game-winning shot; Dwyane Wade performed marvelously in that contest and played at a high level as the Heat swept the next three games. For the Lakers to duplicate that feat they will need to play better defense, keep the rebounding margin close and have a much better understanding of what their offensive strengths are.

I picked the Lakers to win this series because I thought that the Celtics would not have an answer for the Bryant-Gasol screen/roll play and that their success with this action would be enough to cancel out the slight rebounding deficit that I expected them to suffer. As Van Gundy noted during the telecast, the Lakers have in fact enjoyed success with that set. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they have not run it enough and their rebounding (in game one) and defense (in game two) have been poor. We have seen many instances in these playoffs of teams performing much differently at home than on the road, so the likelihood is that the Lakers will win game three and probably game four--maybe even by large margins. However, there is no way around the fact that the Lakers face a steep uphill climb to win this series because they will have to beat the team with the best regular season record in the NBA four times in five games. That is not impossible but history suggests that it is not very likely, either.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:10 AM

20 comments

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20 Comments:

At Monday, June 09, 2008 7:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people are whining about the freethrow attempts disparity 38-10. However, counting the actual whistles, the Lakers were called for 28 fouls, while the Celtics got called for 21.

Take out the intentional fouling at the end of the game and you'll see that the number of toots were fairly balanced.
The Celtics' ballmovement was sharp which forces the defense to rotate which likely causes them to pick up fouls.

Here's a thought: the Celtics got into the bonus early.

Here's another: Whenever Gasol goes for a rebound, or attempts a shot, he usually screams like someone kicked him in the nuts. The referees have been wary of flops recently, so much so that if a player overreacts to a foul, he ends up NOT getting the whistle. What players used to fool refs before is now backfiring.

Z

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous DHSmd said...

I watched the first half, and a portion of the second, but just could not stay with it beyond that. I was getting too upset. The technical call on Bryant was - in retrospect - the last straw for me.

It is rare for me to cite ref performance in a loss - I despise doing it, but I can't avoid it here. I thought game one was horribly called, but equally bad for both sides. This was the most lobsided ref job I can recall seeing -- ever. It seemed like they were calling the Celtics like one would expect a finals series to be called, and they were calling the Lakers like they were a team full of rookies.

I hope the Lakers can win three straight at home. After that, it is anyone's series. But it won't be anyone's series, if they continue to call the games like this.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 12:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in regards to kobe

the bottom line is that you need big men to win titles, unless you are MJ, with Pip and with great big role players (rodman, h grant)

kobe is "transcendent" (to quote Commish Stern) and a great perimeter player, but unless things change, it is going to be the team w the better bigs (KG, and now Powe) that gets the rings... and if things do change it will be largely due to la's bigs (odom & pau)... either way, you need excellent bigs to win rings

also, kobe is great, but if you factor in shooting %, then pierce is clearly outplaying him (notwithstanding pierce's slight injury)...esp considering that the brunt of kobe's game 2 scoring occured after celtics had become mentally relaxed, & overconfident

bynum will be the key to la's title hopes in years to come, just as Shaq was key in their past dynasty

bigs shoot higher %, and they clog the lane on defense... aside from mj's teams, it is the best bigs -- Duncan, Shaq, Hakeem -- that have won titles

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Allen said...

Like you said, it's a "game of inches". The Lakers should have taken their opportunity to steal game one.

Still, not all is lost. The Celtics have to win on the road to win in less than seven.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 5:46:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Z:

What matters is not just the total number of fouls called but the timing, context and nature of the calls. The second foul on Kobe was really ticky-tack and that resulted in him sitting out during a period in which the Celtics made a 10-0 run and took the lead for good.

I think that the Lakers could have won the game anyway if they had been sharper in their execution but Van Gundy was right to say that Bryant's foul trouble was the biggest story of the first half.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 5:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

DHSMD:

Each game will have a different officiating crew, so the calls will vary from game to game--even though things are supposed to be called the same way.

I thought that the officiating was somewhat choppy, particularly early in the game, and that it did affect the game but that the Lakers could have overcome this by executing better at both ends of the court. They can't change the officiating, so they have to focus on things that they can control.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 5:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

You are absolutely correct about the historical importance of big men in terms of winning NBA championships. However, a truly great perimeter player can offset this somewhat. We saw that with Jordan and we saw that with Kobe during the first three rounds of the playoffs (unless you think that Gasol-Odom are better than Boozer-Okur-Kirilenko-Millsap and Duncan-Oberto-Kurt Thomas). If Kobe were not on this Lakers team I would not pick them to make the playoffs, let alone win a championship. I picked the Lakers to get this far and to beat Boston because I felt that he would create so many mismatch problems that his teammates would get scoring opportunities that they cannot create on their own. Also, Coach Jackson does a good job in getting the most out of his group defensively, so I expected them to be sound in that regard. Obviously, in the first two games of the Finals the Lakers' defense has not been great, their bench has been awful and the Celtics have been able to focus a lot on Bryant because Gasol has been sporadic and Odom has been largely invisible.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 5:59:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Allen:

I still think that the Lakers are capable of winning this series if they do the things that I outlined in my preview but from a historical and statistical perspective the odds are against them. Of course, if they win game three then everything will "look" and "feel" a lot different and there is a good chance that they will do just that. However, if one believes that these teams are fairly evenly matched then it would be difficult for either one to win three in a row, which means that we are likely looking at a scenario in which the Lakers win games three and four, the Celtics win a close game five and the Lakers will need to win two in Boston, a very formidable task. This is not what I expected at the start of the series, when I thought that L.A. could get a split in Boston, but that is what I expect to happen now.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 6:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

it's on odom and radmonovich they played bad. gasol had 7 points in second half 25 in first averaging 16 and 9 not good enough. rebounding there getting killed and why didnt they run gasol kobe screen like they did in game 1. kobe played better he a great player you expect it celtic d is very good and has kept him out of lane and away from the line. leon powe aint been the show since he was at oakland tech high school he had a flashback to his high school days. refs were a joke in game for real lakers need to play better d and laker bench need to show.

youre totally right anonymous thats why i dont put nobody on jordan level becasue he won 6 championships with no dominant presence in the middle horace and rodman were role player rodman a great one but they werent dominant jordan had pippen but in 88 and 89 pippen was basically a role player and they got to conference finals by 91 when they won the first title he had emerged as a star but wasnt a all nba player and didnt make all star team. now 92 on he was great but jordan did more with less than any hofamer thats why he is greatest player ever.

gasol and odom are skilled enough players there just not physical enough where grant and rodman werent as skilled but more physical players bynum brings the skill and physicalness kobe got them this far i wouldnt count out kobe and the lakers quite yet well see what happens. but big guys who are dominant win rings.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 7:13:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I don't understand why you feel the need to keep dissing Pip or why you keep acting like somebody is trying to take something away from MJ. Pip is one of the 50 Greatest Players of All-Time. I'd put him in the top 25-30. He was an All-Star/All-NBA level player from 1990-98. Would you say that Manu is not an All-Star level player just because he did not make the All-Star team this year? No one cares about the vagaries of the All-Star selection process when Pip was not chosen in 1991. As I told you in the other thread when you brought this up, Pip had a better year in 1991 than he did in 1990. Pip's emergence played a major role in the Bulls becoming a championship team. He often had the primary defensive assignment, including guarding Magic in the 1991 Finals. Pip had a bigger game in the clincher than MJ did. I don't know how to determine whether or not MJ did more with less than anyone else but I do know that he had a Top 50 player plus several other guys who made the All-Star team at various times during their careers. Also, Rodman is an HoF level player though he may never be voted in because of other factors.

A good case can be made that MJ is the greatest player ever but the reasoning that you are employing is not correct. For one thing, if you are going to say that MJ won with less help than anyone because Pip did not make the All-Star team in 1991 then by that logic Kobe has won with more help than anyone because he took the Lakers to the 2008 Finals with no All-Stars and despite the disruption of a major injury to one starting center and a midseason trade (ask the Mavs how easy it is to integrate even an HoF level player like Kidd into the game plan in the middle of the season).

Turning back to this year's Finals, the Lakers need to improve in a lot of areas in game three but the pattern in this year's playoffs is that such turnarounds are possible when the series shifts venues. We saw the Spurs and Hornets trade blowouts repeatedly. The problem for the Lakers is that to win this series they have to win at least one game in Boston and road wins are usually harder to get in games six and seven than in one or two.

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 7:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Touch fouls and questionable calls will always happen, if it favors a star, it's called star-calls. If it goes against a star, it's called a conspiracy.

I agree that the timing of the fouls were very important (Celtics got in the bonus early) but a lot the media whining doesn't focus on that. They just look at the freethrow attempt numbers and conclude that the Lakers were screwed.

You already mentioned the logic behind Kobe not driving into the heart of the Celtic D, thus lowering his chances of getting the Lakers into the penalty early. I already mentioned Gasol's shrieks backfiring on him. Odom's passiveness has been well documented. The rest of the Lakers are jump shooters.

A lot of people are also complaining that Leon Powe got 10+ FT attempts, yet they failed to mention even one sequence where Powe's defender got called for a phantom foul, or how the referees bailed him out.

As for MJ winning without a great bigman, his bigmen were pretty darn good rebounders/defenders/screeners. They were reliable, productive, and tough.

Sure they couldn't score in the post, but people who argue how great MJ is rarely discuss his greatest advantage over other "heir apparents," his strength and low post scoring. He was easily a top 5 low post scorer. He also passed better than the other top 5 low post scorers, and shot way better at the line.

Jordan's teams did have a dominant low post presence, him!

Z

 
At Monday, June 09, 2008 11:15:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I agree that MJ was a very, very good low post scorer, particularly during his first comeback (1996-98).

I also agree with you about the quality of the big men who played with him. Cartwright was a tough, wily former All-Star, Grant made an All-Star team, Longley used his size effectively and Rodman was an HoF level player.

As for game two, as I said in the post, I don't think that there was a conspiracy. I simply agree with Van Gundy that the offensive foul on Kobe was a bad call and that this had an impact on the first half.

I never questioned any of the fouls on Powe. I said that there were times when Kobe drove to the hoop and no foul was called even though there was some obvious contact. I don't like it when refs call the game close one minute--nailing Kobe for a dubious offensive foul--and then don't call anything when someone drives to the hoop and gets banged around. No advantage was gained when Kobe made light contact with Allen, but Kobe missed some shots where there was contact and no call; those plays could have resulted in free throws and put the Lakers closer to being in the bonus. That said, if the Lakers had played harder and played better then they would have won anyway, so there is no use dwelling on the foul situation--but I had to mention it in my post because it clearly was a factor during the game.

 
At Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

theres nuthing to discuss bill ruseell 8 hofamer larry bird 2 should be 3 with dennis johnson magic 2 kareem and worthy clearly bird and magic made them better but they were great players anyway wilt had 2 or 3 in both philly and lakers big o had kareem and one of my dad favirotes bobby dandrige one but karreem dr j had moses malone maurice cheeks boston strangler andrew toney booby jones. them 2 couldnt win without dominant big kareem had magic and worthy cooper and scott was better than players on bulls sans jordan and pippen jerry west gail good rich elgin baylor all them had at least 2 hall of famers.

all of the top 10 he had one great player hall of famer in pippen thats it he won with bunch of role players only other guy who did this was shaq he had kobe who was better than pippen the role players was similar to jordan.


jordan only guard who won multiple nba championships with no low post presence. steve kerr stacey king john paxson jud buchler luc longley bill wennington cliff levingston bj armstrong old bill cartwright old ron harper toni kucoc among others he won 6 rings with.

jerry west bob cousy sam jones charles barkley bill walton marv albert billy cunningham and many others all say jordan best ever those guys played aginst wilt russell and others and they have said one of the main reasons is he did more with less than anybody.

kobe is a great player so is lebron theres only one micheal jordan me and you seem to disagree in this in certain areas i know you know basketball and know what youre talking and have a right to your opion i was 14 when jordan made shot on jazz i seeen the last 3 years of jordan. i seen kobe whole carrer shaq lebron duncan none of those guys to me are as good as mike to me you cant play basketball better than micheal jordan.


yeah but you right i think the lakers could win 3 stragith at home then that will put the pressure on boston and the momentum totally switch only 1 out of 11 times when the series went at least six since the 2-3-2 format has a road team not won one game 06 dallas you right lakers have a steep hill to climb.

 
At Tuesday, June 10, 2008 3:50:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

How many HoFers did Rick Barry have with him on the '75 Warriors?

How many HoFers did Julius Erving have with him on his two ABA championship teams? The Nuggets team that the Nets beat in '76 had two HoF players plus an HoF coach in Larry Brown.

How many HoFers did the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics have?

My point is that how much "help" someone had during a championship season is not the only--or even the best--way of determining who is the greatest player of all-time. Jordan is clearly an excellent candidate for that title; I just disagree with what what you are presenting as the main way of proving this, for two reasons: One, Jordan had a lot more help than you are suggesting and two, Jordan's greatness is defined by his skill set and what he accomplished with that skill set, not by who his teammates were.

I never said that any of the active players who you listed are better than MJ was; I just don't think that your attempts to diminish Pip and the other Bulls' players prove anything about MJ.

The funny thing is if you only saw the last three years of MJ in Chicago you actually missed the more physically dominant version of MJ; he was more athletic and explosive before his first retirement, but he was stronger and even craftier when he came back.

As you know, MJ is in my Pantheon. However, it is not so simple to compare a guard from the 1980s and 1990s to, say, a center from the 1960s. How can you say with certainty that MJ was better than Wilt or Russell? Wilt set individual records that even MJ could not match, while Russell won 11 titles in 13 seasons. Yes, they had HoF help alongside them but they played in a smaller league in which virtually every team--even the ones with bad records--had HoFers. Wilt and Russell were going against HoF centers on a regular basis, not to mention how often they faced each other. This is why I did not rank the players within the Pantheon but just talked about their careers in chronological order.

 
At Wednesday, June 11, 2008 7:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

im not diminishing players around mj there not as good as you think they are and make them out to be everybody outside of pippen was role player average at very best rodman an was great specialty player he needed isaih or mike and really mike to do load of scoreing for him to be effective.

i know kobe and lebron arent close to mj mark jackson kenny smith and other idiots think so. i said kobe right now is as good as mj was in 96-98 he is nowhere close to mj 87-93 i dont wanna say nowhere close but it is a nice gap.

wilt stats are inflated because he played every minute of the game jordan had more scoreing titles championships scored more points avg per game even but playoff avg and what seperates them was 22 for wilt 34 for mike wilt was a loser he lost like 6 finals and he had more talent on his team than mike did he only won 2 rings to me a underachiever. bill russell was not good offensively and had stacked teams he was okay offensively jordan was dominant on both ends. wilt was way bigger than anybody in his day he played aginst some good opposition but it's easier tow in with less teams.

 
At Thursday, June 12, 2008 12:09:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

When you say that MJ had less help that any other HoFer who won a title you are "diminishing" the other players. You are also wrong in your evaluation of those players, as I have explained more than once.

LeBron certainly is not close to MJ because he has no perimeter shot. Kobe is the closest thing to MJ since MJ retired but, as I have said, I still maintain that MJ was a greater player. I don't think that the comparison is absurd but I would take MJ. Kenny Smith was MJ's teammate at UNC and both he and Mark Jackson played against MJ in the NBA, so I would not dismiss their opinions out of hand. Will Perdue played with MJ and he said that Kobe is every bit as talented as MJ.

It makes no sense to hold Wilt's durability against him. When a great player rests a lesser player is in the game and his team is not as productive, so Wilt's heavy minutes actually work in favor of calling him the greatest player ever.

Wilt intentionally reduced his scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs in order to win championships. In 1967-68 he led the league in rebounding and assists while ranking fifth in scoring; he also had a 20-20-20 game (points-rebounds-assists). I can't think of one other player who could do either of those things.

Wilt's teams lost in the Finals to Bill Russell teams that were stacked with HoFers and two Knicks teams that were stacked with HoFers.

Here is what I wrote last year for NBCSports.com about Wilt's playoff scoring averages:

Wilt Chamberlain’s career is an excellent example of why straight up comparisons of career regular season and playoff scoring statistics can be misleading. Chamberlain averaged 30.1 ppg in his regular season career, mere percentage points behind Michael Jordan for the top spot in NBA history in that category—but in his first five years Chamberlain scored 41.7 ppg and after seven years his average still stood at 39.6 ppg, which is more than any other player in NBA history has averaged in a single season. However, most of Chamberlain’s playoff games took place in the second half of his career, when he accepted a lesser scoring role and distributed the ball to Hal Greer, Gail Goodrich, Jerry West and others. As a result, Chamberlain’s playoff career scoring average is 22.5 ppg. On the surface, it looks like he was a subpar playoff performer--but he won two championships on two of the most dominant teams in NBA history during the part of his career when he sacrificed his scoring; his playoff scoring in those years was roughly in line with his regular season scoring at that time.

One way to account for this discrepancy is to calculate an "adjusted" playoff scoring average by adding up each of a player’s single season playoff scoring averages and dividing them by the total number of playoff seasons played. This has the effect of weighting each playoff season equally; barring injury or vastly reduced playing time, each of a player’s regular seasons has a roughly equal impact on his career scoring average, so this "adjustment" is a quick and easy way to replicate that. Chamberlain’s adjusted playoff scoring average is 24.8 ppg. Isn’t that still a big decline from 30.1 ppg? Yes, but there are two more factors to consider. One, scoring tends to decrease in the playoffs for a variety of reasons--tougher competition and more time to prepare for a specific opponent, for example. Two, Chamberlain’s early regular season scoring averages were so out of this world that even he could not duplicate them in the playoffs. His first three season averages were (regular season first, playoffs second): 37.6/33.2, 38.4/37.0, 50.4/35.0. In his fourth season he averaged 44.8 ppg but his team did not qualify for the playoffs; if he had accumulated any playoff games that year that would have increased his career playoff scoring average even if he "only" scored 33 or 35 ppg. It is also worth mentioning that Chamberlain not only shot an excellent 54.0% from the field in the regular season but that he also shot 52.2% from the field in the playoffs (shooting numbers, like scoring averages, tend to go down in the playoffs).


Russell was a consistent scorer, a very good rebounder and an excellent passer. He was the "main guy" (to use you favorite term) on 11 championship teams.

 
At Friday, June 13, 2008 9:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

he did do more with less than any hall of famer. that is the truth i explaind it easily look at all the guys in your pantheon all them had at least two hall of famer or more and they second best player was better than pippen. mike did more with less

lebron is not close kobe isnt either best since mj retired doesnt make him close. carles barkley gary payton magic johnson larry bird playd aginst jordan and said kobe wasnt close or they could not compare him to mj. and bird is a fan of kobe so is magic and charles. i respect mark and keny but totally disagree.

i know russell was the most important guy on his team he was a great legendary player i rank him 3rd all time he behind mike jordan had a better skill set to use your favirote term 6 in 8 years in the 90's is equivalent to 11 in 13 then. and he had less help than russell i rank wilt 2 all time he played every minute and inflated his stats he took 40 shots a game to average 50ppg . jordan would do that if he took that many shots. he lost the most times as a favirote ever he was a lsoer he ahd stacked teams as well and he still lost.

chamberlin head up doesnt compare to mike period.

 
At Saturday, June 14, 2008 2:13:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

There is a big difference between repeatedly saying something and actually proving it to be true.

In order to prove your reasoning to be correct you would have to do a detailed and objective examination not only of who played with MJ but also what competition the Bulls beat and then compare the results of that examination with who the other HoFers you are talking about played with and who they beat.

I already mentioned three teams ('75 Warriors, '76 Nets, '79 Sonics) that won championships with one HoFer or no HoFers. Also, what about the 2003 Spurs? Manu was a rookie, Parker was in his second year, D-Rob was a role player and the third offensive option was Stephen Jackson. You are fond of discounting Pip's role on the early Bulls teams, so by your way of thinking Duncan did "more with less" that year because he did not have a single teammate who made the All-Star team that season.

Russell played with HoFers but he also played against teams that had multiple HoFers.

I already explained why your criticism that Wilt "inflated" his stats is flawed: when a star rests a weaker player takes his place, so in a sense a star hurts his team whenever he comes out of the game. Of course, most players cannot play all 48 minutes at a high level because they need some rest. Wilt was very unusual in that regard.

If MJ had played 48 mpg and taken that many shots I can assure you that he would not have played nearly as many years as he did and I seriously doubt that he would have averaged 50 ppg in a season. For one thing, it is hard to get off that many shots every night. Also, if he took on that heavy of a work load fatigue and then injuries would take a toll.

I have no idea how you determined how many times Wilt's teams were "favored" or that his teams were "stacked." The teams that he lost to--Russell's Celtics that had multiple HoFers, the early 70's Knicks that had multiple HoFers--were certainly loaded with talent. I don't know who you think was favored in 1970, but the Lakers were an aging team while the Knicks had several young HoFers who were in their primes.

 
At Saturday, June 14, 2008 7:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

it is easy look at all the hall of famers none of them did more with less than jordan did the 75 warriors had rick barry and a bunch of role players that was a one year thing jordan did it 6 times 79 sonics gus willams averaged 20ppg 5 times and 19 twice and averaged 20 and 8 3 times jack sickma a 7 time all star dennis johnson hall of famer. plus that one season 91 bulls had a one time all star and jordan and went 15-2 in playoffs.

your argument is one season my argument is career you can make a case rick barry did more with less in a season none did more or less for career not bird magic kareem wilt oscar elgin jerry rusell or shaq, dr j moses anybody else they all had better teams than mj did and none of them won 6 rings but kareem played with 3 hall of famers jordan one 85 87 88 magic was best player jordan was best player on all his. rusell had 7 other hall of famers, jordan did more with less than any other hall of famer or all time great for his career he had less talent than all of them theres no other way i could make it clearer.

in 69 lakers lost boston 70 and 73 lost knicks and few times with warriors he was favored and lost he was a great player compared to jordan he was a loser, jordan 6 for 6 wilt lost like 6 finals. wilt has mike in shooting percentage rebounds that it wilt was terrible at line mike had no weaknesses, for all that scoreing mj had a higher ppg avg career than him and the playoffs is where mike seprated him self from him 6 finals mvp to 1 5 mvp to 4 he was better than wilt. there was 3 seven footers in wilt day he was going up agianst 6 foot9 guys consistenly his size was a part of his sucess as well.

 
At Sunday, June 15, 2008 1:24:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

The other HoFers who led teams to three or more titles--guys like Russell, Magic and Bird--competed against teams that had multiple HoFers. I disagree with the whole way that you are framing your point--this "more with less" business. The correct way to do this is to compare who MJ had with him to who the other teams had. MJ and Pip are a HoF, Top 50 duo. How many HoF, top 50 duos did they beat in the Finals? Russell beat Lakers' teams that had Baylor and West and one team that had Baylor, West and Chamberlain, though Baylor had slowed down by that time. The 80s Celtics and Lakers were loaded with HoFers and Top 50 players.

Also, you fail to understand how important the Bulls' "lesser" players were, guys like Grant, Harper and Cartwright.

The only time that you could make a good case that Wilt had the better team and lost is 1968--and that team suffered a huge blow when Billy Cunningham got hurt in the playoffs, so they probably weren't really the better team.

The 1969 Celtics were the defending champions and they beat the Lakers in seven games in the Finals.

The 1970 Knicks won 14 more regular season games than the Lakers.

The 1973 Lakers were old; Wilt and West were on their way out.

As I mentioned before, Wilt ranked among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists; MJ never did that.

The Finals MVP was not created until 1969, near the end of Wilt's career. He certainly would have won another one in 1967. He won the 1972 Finals MVP despite playing with a broken wrist. He had to compete for regular season MVPs with Russell and Oscar Robertson.

Wilt and Russell played each other 10 or 12 times a season because the league was so small. MJ played a lot of games against the LaBradford Smiths of the world.

A good case can be made that MJ was the greatest player ever--you just aren't making that case.

 

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