Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Lakers season is over
The Lakers ran into a buzz saw that no amount of German knee engineering could overcome. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s two superstars, with a bit of help from 6th man James Harden, overpowered the Lakers to advance to their second consecutive Western Conference Finals. LA got very little from Andrew Bynum (10 points, 4 rebounds), and less from their bench (5 combined points) to support Kobe Bryant… who scored nearly half the team’s 90 points (more on him shortly).
For the Thunder, it means a date with the top seeded Spurs in a series that doesn’t start until Sunday. It’s another week off for the NBA’s janitors who just come in, punch a clock, do their sweeping, and go home. This series will be a mind-boggling matchup of contrasting everything. It will take five more days to analyze this matchup and figure anything out that can give either team a definite edge.
For the Lakers… well… this is going to be tough. They hold a team option on Andrew Bynum that will certainly get picked up. Ramon Sessions will likely opt out in hopes of making more than $4.5 million next season (let’s hope his agent emphasizes his regular season numbers in LA). And then there’s the issue of that to do with Pau Gasol, who was never quite himself after the trade debacles of December that saw him shipped out of town… only to not be a few hours later. He was a Kobe Bryant whipping boy lately… so this will be an interesting summer for Pau. He might want to start pricing movers.
2: Philly’s season is almost over
The Boston Celtics pushed the Sixers to the brink last night, winning Game 5 in what ended up being a blowout, but was anything but for nearly three quarters. But the Celtics got a spark from two places: Brandon Bass, and a referee.
With 7:41 left, Kevin Garnett was called for a questionable offensive foul with the Sixers leading 57-53. They outscored Philly 22-9 the rest of the quarter, and 48-30 the rest of the game. The call woke up a late-arriving and quiet Boston Garden crowd that was itching to become the 6th man it was known for.
Bass personally outscored the Sixers in the third 18-16, on his way to a 27 point, 6 rebound, 2 steal, 2 block night. It’s was far and away Bass’ best quarter as a Celtic, and it saw him finish both at the rim and from 16 feet. The Celtics fed off his aggression and put the Sixers away in a role reversal from a Game 5 that saw Philly dominate the second half. Now the Celtics have two chances to close Philly out, but they may have to do it without defensive menace Avery Bradley, who continues to deal with a repeatedly dislocating left shoulder.
Rajon Rondo falls down, but still gets the assist
Russell Westbrook with the wild and-1
Kobe Bryant’s nasty reverse dunk
4: Line of the Night: Kobe Bryant: 42 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 0 assists
Two schools of thought on this one.
1: Kobe carried the Lakers offense as the only true aggressor last night, taking 33 shots when the rest of the starters could only muster 35.
2: Kobe killed the Lakers offense last night as he barely passed (no assists), taking almost as many shots as the rest of the starters combined.
I’m not going to pick one. I’ll let you guys fight over this one. The no assists? It was his 11th playoff game with no assists (he’s 5-6 in those games)… but 9 of those games were in 1997 or 98, before he was “Kobe.” He last did it in the Game 1 loss to Dallas last year. Is his job to score, or is it, as the team’s best player, to also get others involved.
Kobe tried to will the team to a win last night. He couldn’t. People will blame him, and he deserves some of it. People will give him credit, and he deserves some of that too. You do have to wonder though…. are we ever going to see Kobe score like this in a playoff game again?
5: You can quote me on that
“We’re asking our bigs to do a lot, but I know for sure we could have gotten more scoring from those two guys in the offensive rebounding category … and we could have gotten more from our bench”
-Mike Brown, after Game 5
KG: “Man, we’re sparked. This god damn crowd here sparks you. It doesn’t take much here, man. I have no idea what you’re talking about, to be honest. But when speaking about this crowd, it’s like plugging in, man. You’re enthused for 48 minutes on, from tip on. So I can’t see the difference between minute from minute. I feel like every minute I look up I see my family, I see people yelling, I see the drunk fat guy. I can’t decipher. I’m telling you, I can’t decipher one from the other. This crowd is ridiculous. I love it.”
Reporter: What’s that feeling like? The crowd getting into it?
KG: “It’s like taking a cold shower, stepping into a freezer that’s 60 below. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you want the feeling, try it out, come back, let me know.”
-Kevin Garnett, on the Boston Garden crowd