NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 4: Blogbook drools like a Big Baby

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A collection of thoughts on Lakers-Celtics Game 4…

  • If Glen Davis is a Drunken Seal, tonight was the big show at Sea World and everyone clapped for him. Davis was a beast, and his ability to create shots against the Lakers’ bigs was pretty much the difference in the game. Davis’ emotion seems like a caricature of itself at times, but tonight it also served as the ripcord to kickstart the Celtics’ motor. Offensive rebounds aren’t easy to come by against the Lakers, and Davis got four of them. It was his yelling and screaming that brought the crowd back into it and the Celtics fed off that. It’s the circle of life, really.
  • Andrew Bynum is the difference. I don’t know how else to put it. I could talk about the rebounding, but that leaves out the defense. I could talk about the defense, but that leaves out the drop-off pass work. I could talk about the dump pass buckets, but then… you get the point. The weird thing has been that you can’t noticeably see the effect of the knee injury. He seems healthy on the floor, but is obviously telling the trainers something. You have to think Jackson yanked back on Bynum’s minutes tonight to give him time to rest up for a pivotal Game 5. It fits with Jackson’s M.O. They need him more than any other player outside of Pau and Bryant for Game 5.
  • Paul Pierce’s ability to get space returned tonight, and not a moment too soon. Pierce’s step back elbow jumper is one of the most central parts of the Boston attack and it’s been silent in the Finals until tonight, when Pierce got it going at several points on his way to 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting. He had 5 turnovers, but you’ll gladly take that if it means he’s being aggressive with the ball. Artest got clipped on screens tonight and didn’t have the same tenacity to peel off them as he did in Game 3.
  • Rajon Rondo is off. Don’t know if it’s the muscle spasms or the defensive switches and pull-outs to the free throw line, but something’s not right. He’s not dictating the tempo nor the offense the way he has throughout the playoffs. Just three assists for him tonight, and the layups. Ye Gods, the layups. Kid got enough iron to form Optimus Prime. Rondo had a .62 points created per possession used mark tonight, That’s a fairly terrible figure and one that the Celtics need to find a remedy for. As well as Derek Fisher has been playing, Rondo should still be getting his.
  • Rasheed Wallace’s outburst after a questionable third quarter foul call while defending Kobe Bryant (after some terrific perimeter defense by Tony Allen to force him inside) was perhaps the longest single stream of obscenities in the history of network television.
  • That said, Sheed did manage to have more good plays than bad, particularly the late arcing three he drained that helped fuel a massive Celtic run.
  • The Lakers have to consider this somewhat of a letdown game, considering they had a nine point lead, Rondo didn’t go off, Allen didn’t go off, and Garnett was contained. More and more it feels like whichever bench contributes more decides who wins the game.
  • Luke Walton, zero minutes. Huh? After a Game 3 where he came up huge with hustle and savvy, Walton gets a DNP-CD tonight, with no official explanation regarding an injury. You have to think his back injury must be worse than they let on, because the Lakers needed a jump and Walton would have been a perfect candidate. Even if he would have allowed more damage from Paul Pierce, he may have helped out the offense which the Lakers desperately needed.
  • Pau Gasol had 44 minutes tonight, and still didn’t see the ball enough. 21 points on 13 shots and you still feel like they left a few bullets in the chamber with Gasol. He had one particularly terrific play where he went baseline, managed to worm space and create a bank shot that was straight out of the Tim Duncan playbook. Gasol’s brilliance continues to shine, even as the Laker offense underrates him.
  • Anyone else think Andrew Bynum’s going to play a ton of Starcraft II when he’s recovering from knee surgery in five weeks?
  • Nate Robinson is everything Stephon Marbury was supposed to be that wasn’t. The fiery former Knick who comes off the bench at point guard and produces points.
  • Bryant is struggling in the fourth quarter in this series, putting in heavy minutes then finding even tighter defense in the closing minutes. He scored 12 in the 4th tonight through sheer will power.  He’s probably due for an outright explosion, but it’s a trend worth noting as the series continues. That said, some of his shots were pure perfection tonight. 

Kevin Durant keeps building up superstar accolades with second All-Star MVP

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CHARLOTTE – When Kevin Durant won All-Star MVP in 2012, he was asked whether he considered himself a star, a label he had resisted.

“I wouldn’t say that just yet,” Durant said. “Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that.”

The notion was silly then. Durant had already made two All-NBA first teams and finished second for MVP.

But that All-Star MVP started to change how Durant presented himself. He made another All-NBA first team, again finished second for MVP and led the Thunder to the NBA Finals that season.

“In 2012, I started to feel like I started to hit that elite level,” Durant said. “All that stuff in one year was pretty exciting to me.”

The hits have kept rolling since.

Durant has added an MVP, two titles and two Finals MVPs. Tonight, he claimed another All-Star MVP. The Warriors star scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead LeBron James‘ team to a 178-164 win.

“I just keep trying to rack them up, I guess,” Durant said.

That’s seven years between his All-Star MVPs. Few players sustain that elite level – starring among stars – so long. Only LeBron James (12 years), Michael Jordan (10 years), Kobe Bryant (nine years), Oscar Robertson (eight years) have gone so long between their first and last All-Star MVPs.

Durant, 30, appears to have plenty left in the tank.

Of course, the impending question: Where? Durant can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and this weekend included plenty of speculation.

Tonight’s game gave Knicks fans reason to fanaticize. New York’s presumed targets with its double-max cap space, Durant and Kyrie Irving showed strong chemistry. Half Durant’s baskets were assisted by Irving, who sent five of his six assists to Durant (the other an alley-oop to former teammate LeBron).

Asked which of his All-Star teammates he best meshed with, Durant refused to name one.

“You don’t really have to do too much when you’re playing with so many great players,” Durant said. “You can do what you’re just best at.”

Team LeBron starts playing defense first, comes from 20 down to win All-Star Game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s All-Star Game, Team LeBron started to care.

Down 20 at one point early in the third, Team LeBron came out of a mid-quarter timeout with a different energy. The “bench” guys on the court started defending with the kind of relative intensity usually reserved for the final minutes of this exhibition (when it’s close), the players on the bench were standing and cheering like it was a playoff game, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal started knocking down everything, and the game just shifted. It culminated when Damian Lillard tied the game up with a 35-foot three.

Team LeBron kept up the momentum, owned the fourth as Durant went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter, and Team LeBron got the win 178-164.

“It was our second unit that came in — Dame, Klay, Brad Beal, LaMarcus, Ben Simmons, KAT,” LeBron said after the game about what turned the momentum. “They came in and just changed the whole complexion of the game. We got stops, and, obviously, Dame and Klay caught fire from beyond the arc, and that allowed us to get back in the game.”

Durant was named MVP, a clear choice with his second-half play in particular.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 38 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul George showed anyone that hasn’t seen him this season how well he’s playing — MVP conversation level — on his way to 20.

This All-Star Game opened with the level of defensive intensity we have come to expect in All-Star Games. Which is to say none.

Well, except when Stephen Curry was guarding Klay Thompson.

The one guy who was intense from the start was Antetokounmpo, who scored the first six points for Team Giannis. He didn’t slow down on his way to 20 first-half points, plus he had one of the game’s great highlights on a bounce pass alley-oop from Curry.

Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only Buck hot to start, Khris Middleton entered the game midway through the first quarter and drained three shots from beyond the arc in a row. In the first nine minutes of the game, the Bucks were beating Team LeBron 28-27.

The favorite crowd moment of the first half was when future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki walked on the court and splashed a couple of threes.

Dwyane Wade was the other Commissioner addition to the game, which means for one last time we got Wade throwing the alley-oop to LeBron.

Curry struggled late, going 3-of-11 in the fourth, but he still got to rub it in Thompson’s face a little.

“It was good to see Steph knock that shot down over Klay, because Klay is always talking trash to him,” Durant said after the game.

Team Giannis was in control most of the first half and was up 13 (95-82) at the half, not that 13 points is much of a deficit in the All-Star Game. Not when one team started to care.

Stephen Curry gets four-point play after Klay Thompson foul, Curry does some taunting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Curry is enjoying going against Klay Thompson. Maybe a little too much.

In the first half, Curry was matched up on his Warriors’ backcourt mate and enjoyed that Thompson missed the shot.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the game tight, Curry drained the contested three and drew the and-1 on Thompson — and did a little taunting.

That’s some All-Star fun.

Stephen Curry bounces alley-oop way above rim, Giannis Antetokounmpo slams it down (video)

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CHARLOTTE – Stephen Curry bounced this so high!

I suppose it helps that Giannis Antetokounmpo has such ridiculous reach.