May 11, 2004 -- LOS ANGELES - And you thought the NFL was "One for All, All for One." That was until Camp David sent out that "make-these-series competitive-or-else" memo . . . and the Spurs and Pistons compassionately complied. How else could you possibly explain Sunday's double "mother of all moribund monstrosities" manufactured by San Antonio and Detroit?
Change of venue? If that was the case, Kobe ought to fly like an Eagle out of Colorado. I haven't seen such disinterest among visitors since Euro Disney.
First, the Spurs show up (in theory) at the office supply center no way resembling the fighting fortress of the Alamo. Sure, the desperate Lakers made adjustments; it's illuminating how good they can look simply by Shaq and Kobe upping their amperage and aptitude, as well as playing in concert with their teammates.
Still, the Spurs could not have been less eager to respond to their opponents' aggression. None of the thousand points of light that worked to perfection in Games 1 and 2 saw any ray of repetition in Southern California. Instead, they were forced to hoist up threes (11-27) as opposed to having drive-bys snuffed out by The Big Stalker (eight blocks), while the homeys earned 18 more free throws.
Speaking of the uncharitable stripe, I whipped out my trusty abacus and came up with this fun factoid: Through three games, the Spurs are 39-for-73 (53.4 percent) from the line of contamination, while the Lakers are 54-for-91 (59.3). Together, they've combined for less than 57 percent. George Johnson's resume is in the mail.
And then there are those misfiring Pistons; never a threat to turn over that third digit on the scoreboard, they did themselves especially proud Sunday, managing a franchise playoff-low 64 points. That's really saying something because you're taking into account 260 postseason games.
The good news is, at least the Pistons outscored the Tigers, who paper-plated 15 runs Saturday . . . but, alas, also lost.
Think about it: Detroit shot 28.9 percent from the field (0-for-10 from deep) and converted just 22 shots. In other words, the Nets made more stops in one game than Larry Brown has in his whole career.
Breezing to the finish line with Jason Kidd aborting 12 of 14 shots is either an aberration or a testament to the Nets' aspirations to return to The Finals for a third straight time. Of course, Chauncey Billups misread nine of his 10 putts, but that's not important right now.
What counts is the Spurs and Pistons dutifully allowed their rivals back in their respective regionals. If nothing else, NBA's teams cooperate with the commissioner. Camp David is pleased.
Had the Timberwolves lost Game 2, Flip Saunders would've had to go. How do you have Kevin Garnett out of service for a crucial two minutes in the fourth quarter of the most critical game in franchise history and allow the Kings to kidnap Mo Mentum (via an 8-0 run)? Let the league's MVP rest on his laurels on his time.
Furthermore, had the T'wolves blown another home game (i.e. the series), Garnett, in good conscience, would've been compelled to return his MVP trophy. Except for some free throws (5-for-6) - two of 'em unearned thanks to a bogus loose-ball call against Brad Miller - Minny's franchise player did nothing of consequence (0-for-2 from the field) when Sanders finally got him back on the court.
While there's nothing wrong with deferring to Sam Cassell's scalding shooting in the final three minutes, it's unpardonable for a guy like Garnett to put the ball in the trembling hands of Trenton Hassell and Fred Hoiberg - unprepared to produce in such a compression chamber - for must-makes.
How can you expect peripheral players to bail you out when even the twice championship-tested Cassell clearly wilted under the weight of the moment until the end, when the Kings began to act like they were behind instead of up 10? Considering their individual and collective experience, it was amazingly scandalous how the Kings demonstrated such inferior clock management and shot selection.
Nevertheless, even in victory, Garnett can't pretend his mortifying vanishing act didn't happen. At least, in the past, when Chris Webber washed his hands of the offense at crunch time he had valid excuses (Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic, and now Miller) to go away from the ball. Garnett's showing he's more Gag Man - in big games, against serious competition - than Bag Man.
Notice, Doug Christie wasn't included in the above consecrated cluster. Despite having converted a couple of clutch treys in this season's playoffs, he's not exactly Mr. Reliable in a pinch. Did you see him nervously smiling and toeing the welfare line in Game 2 when the Kings desperately needed him to come through? Christie couldn't bless himself enough before malfunctioning both tries.
I see where the judge is going to allow TV cameras in the courtroom this week when Jim Gray enters Kobe's "not guilty" plea. Good for him. The only question I have: Is Kobe going to be drinking a glass of water while Gray is speaking from his lap?
Since it's Vescey, I take it with a grain of salt. There is a website I came across during the season (I forget the link) where they reported on trade rumors, where the lowest rating of "chance of actually happening" is called "Peter Vescey reported it."
Originally posted by Kawshen That was until Camp David sent out that "make-these-series competitive-or-else" memo . . . and the Spurs and Pistons compassionately complied.
... Same shit, different day. I wonder where Vecsey was with the "Stern wants to keep the series competitive" crap when the Lakers won the Finals in 4 over New Jersey and 5 over Philly.
Originally posted by KawshenHow else could you possibly explain Sunday's double "mother of all moribund monstrosities" manufactured by San Antonio and Detroit?
... Perhaps because they were OUTPLAYED by a Laker team that switched to a more basic, pick-oriented offense? No way -- everyone that's "in the know" like Professor Laker Hater Vecsey just KNOWS that the Lakers don't win unless it's fixed.
I think the most enjoyable thing about being a Laker fan these days is watching all of the Haters just cry, cry, cry after another L.A. win. "It's Fixed!!" "The Lakers have the Refs in their back pocket!!" "Shaq fouls on every play!!" "All Malone does is throw elbows!!" "Kobe's always traveling, and he's a Rapist, too!!" "Waaaaaaahhhhh!!!"
Originally posted by J.T. DutchI think the most enjoyable thing about being a Laker fan these days is watching all of the Haters just cry, cry, cry after another L.A. win. "It's Fixed!!" "The Lakers have the Refs in their back pocket!!" "Shaq fouls on every play!!" "All Malone does is throw elbows!!" "Kobe's always traveling, and he's a Rapist, too!!" "Waaaaaaahhhhh!!!"
Keep on crying.
I seriously doubt that all these people ACTUALLY think the games are fixed. Sure Shaq fouls a whole bunch, and sure all Malone does is throw bows. As a Laker hater (and similarly, a Duke hater), I see all to often a situation in a Laker game where it seems that they're getting away with things on reputation. Nonetheless, they've been winning games in the recent past mostly because of their talent. But they seem to get so many calls their way that one can't help but say something like the games are fixed - but only in jest.
On the other hand, that Game 6 against the Kings from a couple of years ago - give me an f'ing break.
Pat Croce is the creator of that "Slamball" show on TNN coming up. He was also the owner of the 76ers before stepping down last year. Earlier last season, it was Pat Croce, Mike Fratello, and Jayson Williams as the studio analysts for NBC.