Kobe Bryant entered back into the game with 6:16 left in the contest and proceeded to score five-quick points — an and-1 where Ray Allen fouled him near the elbow, followed by another bucket with a spin-to-the-left move on Allen.
Then Kobe — a little tentative with five fouls — couldn’t make a shot, as the Celtics threw every defender they could find at him. Other Lakers needed to step up.
And without Kobe taking over it got ugly. The Lakers showed no poise, they did not look like a team that had won the title.
Andrew Bynum picked up an offensive foul by moving pick. Ron Artest picked up a foul as he tried to do too much despite a cold shooting night. Kobe missed a 13-footer with 3:55 left. He would later miss a three pointer and an 8-footer. There was Artest’s horrible forced post entry pass to Pau Gasol that was stolen. There was Derek Fisher stepping back to take a three and giving Rajon Rondo time to recover and make a beautiful from-behind block.
Then there was the bizarre possession that best exemplified how the Lakers lost all sense of self at the end of the game — Artest dribbling the ball for a dozen seconds while the Lakers were down 8 and needing a quick shot. He called for a pick from Bynum then ran wide off of it. moved from the right side to the left, never giving up the ball until he launched a one-footed, double-pumped leaning jumper that had no chance. The only fitting thing to do — show that possession with the Benny Hill theme music behind it.
Kobe did drain a three after a Gasol offensive rebound on that Artest miss, but that was after the Lakers had blown six ugly possessions in a row and the game was getting out of reach in the final minutes.
Credit the Celtics defense, which put pressure on the Lakers, forcing them to make decisions. They made bad ones. Los Angles looked desperate and out of control.
It was a fitting end for the how the Lakers had played all night. For much of the game the Lakers tried to attack the Boston defense straight off the dribble, playing right into the hands of the Celtics who like to overload the strong side. In Game 1 the Lakers swung the ball to the weakside and quickly attacked off the dribble into a still-rotating defense, but in Game 2 the ball movement went the way of the dodo bird.
That was especially true in the final minutes. The Lakers became jump shooters when Andrew Bynum and Gasol had given them 46 points on 20 shots.
The Celtics pressured and the Lakers lost themselves. They lost their poise.
It’s going to be a lot harder to find it in Boston. But if the Lakers are going to repeat they must show some poise on the road that they did not in Game 2.