Friday, April 27, 2007

Second Season: Day 6

It was really a shame David Stern (or his intern, or Roger Goodell, or whoever decides these things) decided to relegate Jazz/Houston to NBATV. By all accounts, though, it doesn't sound like we missed much.

(I say "we" because I don't know anyone with NBATV. Do you have it? How is it?)

Utah wins Game 3 on its home court. Somehow, the Rockets only had four (4!) players score. First time that's ever happened in the playoffs. Listen, I love Head as much as the next guy, but if Luther doesn't knock a few down from deep, the Rockets don't have a chance.

If you are the Rockets, are you e
ncouraged or discouraged by this? I think I'd be encouraged; I mean, it isn't like you got blown out. You hung with the Jazz on their court when only four of your guys decided to play. Not bad for playing 4 on 5 all night.

Jeff Van Gundy doesn't strike me as a glass half full type of guy, though. After t
he Rockets won Game 2, he might as well have given his press conference while sitting on the grave of favorite pet. He was damn near morbid. He has luggage under his eyes and a 5 o'clock shadow the minute he rolls out of bed (if he goes to sleep at all). Seems like a real joy.

And their only goal coming to Utah was to get a split. That possibility is still very much alive, Hell, all they have to do is look to LA. If anyone had an excuse, it was them after that trouncing they got in Game 2.

T-Mac (Or is it T. Mac? Someone c
lear this up for me. I never know.) called out his bench after the game. He seemed genuinely pissed. Maybe it isn't all on him after all.

Detroit continues to beat a team it is much better than for the first time ever. For as good as the Pistons have been in the post season over the years, this is the first time this team has ever had the chance to sweep another team.

What is it with team's in the East? Why are they all so nonchalant about everything? The Pistons are the cool kids who sit in the back of the class, smart kids wh
o need to be challenged before they try; the Cavs are convinced they can turn it on whenever they want; the Heat have readily admitted that they haven't played as hard as they can in their first two post season losses; the Nets most well-known name is the poster child for playing when he feels like it. Hell, the Bulls might win the East just because they seem to try hard every game.

You'd think that since the East is the inferior conference, they would constantly bust their ass. Maybe that is why they are the inferior conference. The East is like Smush Parker: instead of being grateful for an opportunity they don't deserve, they coast and end up shooting themselves in the foot.

But back to the game. The Magic, at least to me, are making some odd match up choices, at least in the back court. Jameer Nelson (Chauncey Billups' Mini Me) gaurds Mr. Big Shot and Grant Hill guards Rip Hamilton. Shouldn't those be switched?

Billups just takes Jameer into the post and has his way with him; as stron
g as Jameer is, he isn't strong enough to bang with him, and he gives up way too many inches. Chauncey bangs, bangs, bangs and then elevates. Wouldn't Grant Hill's height bother him? And why does Grant and his surgically repaired ankles chase Rip around all those screens? Wouldn't the quick and elusive Jameer do a better job of that?

I guess it doesn't really matter, this series is over (Gone Fishin' coming soon!). I just don't get it.

LA pulls off one of the most improbable bounce backs ever. I really did not expect LA to bounce back and compete in this game, let alone win it. And once PHX got off to that 11-0 run, and then a 17-point lead, I was ready to call it a series.

But Kobe Bean Bryant handed in a virtuoso performance. He didn't come out gunning, but he turned it on when LA needed it the most. And by "when they needed it the most," I mean when they were down 17. Anyone find it odd that when he started taking over, the Lakers got back into it? Yea, me either. Makes perfect sense.

He did get a little
too One Man Show towards the end (for my liking, he can never shoot too much), but for the most part, he was getting to the rim at will and finishing spectacularly, plus he was finding people for easy shots.

And that was the key: people demand he take less shots and get his teammates more involved, but Kobe has a habit of being an all or nothing guy. Either he's gunning and not passing or he is just reversing the ball, not penetrating or being a threat and just letting his teammates remind everyone how bad they are. Tonight he found the perfect medium. He was killing everyone off the dribble, but when he couldn't finish himself, he found other people - for the most part.

And that is where Kwame benefited. His performance was solely the product of Kobe finding him and Amare not being able to challenge him because of foul trouble. That performance was a fluke.

Lamar's performance was not a fluke. Well, it may have been a fluke because who knows if LA will ever get that type of line out of him ever again, but dude played a heck of a game. That is what he is capable of on a regular basis. He got to the rim a ton (even if he wasn't always successful). He is the Lakers best post player. I would tell Kwame to hit the glass (which he won't cuz he's soft) and let Lamar post up.

But this was all about Kobe. He really just leaves you shaking your head sometimes. How can anyone seriously watch him for any period of time and decide that team is better off when he is passing? He is the best scorer of this generation and people demand that he passes? That is ludicrous. He is a scorer first and foremost and his passing will flow from that.

And that is exactly what happened tonight. Plus, he is the preeminent closer in the NBA sure, but in all of sports, too. I think only Tiger and maybe Tom Brady rivals him in that department.

Can he keep that up for three more games? Probably not. Will he try? I sure as hell hope so.

Read the Rest After the Jump...