May 27th, 2008 – Dr. Anklesnap
The sports blogging world and even some mainstream media folks have been more fixated the last few days on the Kobe Bryant affair rumor than on Kobe and the LA Lakers competitive western conference final pairing with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Kobe has been the subject of numerous rumors over the years, many of which coming after the rape allegations in Colorado a couple of years ago. Well this time the Black Mamba is fighting back.
I really don’t have much to say about the situation, I’d prefer to focus on the great battle of titans we are seeing in this series on the court. Why would a basketball fan care if Kobe has sex with Laker girls or not. It’s not like it’s a crime to cheat on your wife or have sex with ridiculously gorgeous women is it? It may be morally suspect, but last time I checked Kobe is getting paid to play basketball, not to live some sort of morally righteous life.
If the Spurs lose Game 4 this series will be all but done. We have all heard at some point or another about how hard it is statistically to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Playoffs given the current home and away structure. If there is one team that could do it, I would assume since the Spurs are gritty as hell it would have to be them. Gregg Popovich wouldn’t want to test that fate however.
Tonight the Lakers came out hot. They jumped out to a quick 14 point lead midway through the first quarter. But in normal Spurs fashion the home squad pulled back within 5 before the end of the first. Phil Jackson in his post quarter interview was clearly livid with the officials. When asked the reasons the Spurs were able to climb back into the game he said “the whistles carriers” let them get back in the game. He was referring to the 3 or 4 questionable foul calls called on the Lakers to close out the quarter. A couple of minutes later Lamar Odom picked up another ticky tack foul and had to be taken out of the game with his 3rd foul.
With Lamar Odom in foul trouble the Lakers suffer defensively, as he adds considerable length that provides better help side and on the ball defense for the Lakers. The Lakers however were able to sustain their lead to close out the half. The Spurs came out aggressive and energetic to start the 3rd quarter, but just when they seemed to be about to get over the hump and take the lead, Udoka commits one of the most asinine fouls of his career by fouling a jump shooting Sasha Vujacic from way downtown after he had already released the ball. Vujacic knocked down the three pointer, smooth as silk. Sasha hit the free throw making it a 4 point play and once again giving the Lakers a bit of a cushion.
The Lakers then closed out the 3rd quarter strong and maintained their scoring and defensive balance for most of the 4th quarter. One of the big stories of the game for the Spurs however, was the play of the heady Brent Barry. This guy is an assassin from long range. He can flat out shoot. He was 7-12 on the game, and 5-10 from 3-pt range for 23 points. Not bad for a guy that the Spurs essentially dropped from the team a couple of months ago due to roster and payroll issues, before eventually resigning him after the required waiting period.
While it was Barry that kept the Spurs within reach for most of the game, the Spurs leaned heavily on their big three Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker down the stretch. However, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant did their share to help out the Spurs as well. After a Ginobili three, Gasol missed two key free throws, and then Kobe poorly managed the clock in the final minute of play by racing down the court and missing a layup in traffic when he could have slowed down the play and killed some time.
In the final seconds, 2.1 to be exact, the Spurs had possession down two, 93-91. After a time-out to set up their play, the ball was inbounded to none other than the hot hand Brent Barry. Brent gave a nice pump fake to Derek Fisher who left his feet and clearly came down elbow first on the head of Brent Barry while he attempted a 3-pt shot. No call. Game Over. Lakers lead series 3 games to 1.
But wait, the replays clearly showed Derek Fisher fouled Brent Barry. What does that mean? It means we will see that play replayed on sports center over and over again for the next few days.
I guess Phil Jackson is no longer angry with the “whistle carriers” after that one?