Game 4 was a hard-fought matchup of two title-ready teams. Would the Lakers knock the life out of the Celtics, or would they even up the series, again?
Here’s my play-by-play rundown:
10:56: A blocked shot leads to Ray Allen breaking his scoring drought! Good combo. Then Derek Fisher runs over Allen on the next possession in his haste to get out to defend him on the 3-point line.
4:05: A Kobe Bryant shot grazes rim, drops in between two Celtics right into the arms of Ron Artest. Come on, guys!
3:05: Another lost rebound, as ABC analyst Stan Van Gundy points out the Celtics can’t “corral” it. Then nice D leads to a fast break, but Big Baby misses a layup. Argh.
Commercial break’s coming – cue up an over-the-top recap from Mark Jackson. “The Celtics needing a win, finding out that The Truth shall set you free.” Really, Mark?
1:36: Rondo, in transition, zooms into the lane and does one of his palming-the-ball finishes.
1:06: Pierce drives, exhorts after his layup falls in – and punches Eddie Rush. Oops.
0:36: Rasheed takes down Celtic slayer Pau Gasol. That’s right. Don’t let him get an easy hoop.
0:24: Gasol loses his balance, yet again, and weakly tosses the ball toward the hoop. Predictably, it’s called a foul. Wallace has a fit. Crowd boos when the replay is shown. Gasol makes both freebies.
0:03: Nate Robinson hits a nice three off a Pierce pass to end the quarter! Good sign. Robinson and Wallace are key bench players for the Celtics. Or rather, their energy is a good indicator of where things are going.
OVERALL: The defense has been solid (more takeaways than usual), Pierce is rolling (10 points), and we’re up 19-16. But Big Baby, Allen and Pierce have all missed layups. Still, a low-scoring game is what Boston wants.
10:33: Nate catches and shoots. Swish! On the other end, Farmar misses. (Four more shots! Take four more shots!)
9:39: Farmar hits his next three-pointer. Hmm. Must have heard me taunting him.
7:30: Apparently Lamar Odom has a dangerous left hand. Who knew?
5:56: Big Baby knocks in a shot to end an extended sloppy run by both teams.
5:27: Rondo is now 4-for-15 from the line for the series. Jeff Van Gundy aptly points out that that could make him less likely to drive to the hoop. But he promptly does just that, although he misses a tough shot.
1:30: Strong move into the lane by Kevin Garnett. He finishes off the 3-point play, bringing the Celtics within five.
0:32: KG, why are you TIPPING the rebound? When did this become a chic thing to do?
Buzzer: Allen is blocked on a three-pointer – deflating – but Garnett catches it, turns, and knocks down a nice shot. Celtics end a tough quarter on a nice note. Nothing is ever easy with these guys. The Lakers, especially Kobe, turned it up that quarter, and the home team is down, 45-42.
8:40: Fisher throws up a heave and it goes in. Impressive.
7:00: This does not feel good. Can the Celtics get anything going offensively? Down by five, but geez, it’s like the team’s fighting through molasses here.
6:21: What Van Gundy calls “offense by accident” is good enough for me, this time.
5:58: More good defense, and risky Rondo loft pass to Garnett, equals layup.
5:08: Garnett appears to travel, hops in there and hits an over-the-top shot. We’re up by 1, somehow.
4:43: Bryant, you are our nemesis!
4:23: Ray Allen finally hits a jump shot! Cameras show his mom clapping. Been awhile since that happened. Tie game.
2:43: An Allen three-pointer rolls out, then Rondo grabs the board and misses a leaner. That pretty much sums up the game right there. On the next possession, pesky defense forces a Lakers turnover. The Celtics are putting out the effort, that’s for sure. And their defense is clamping down. The offense is just a struggle.
1:51: Bryant knocks down an amazing three. His release is a sight to behold.
1:21: Ut-oh, Bryant’s fourth trey of the quarter. Down by 4.
0:06: Marquis Daniels enters game for first time since concussion. Allen steals ball and rolls it too far down court, out of reach of Rondo. Opportunity to tie game…literally thrown away.
OVERALL: You’ve got to like the effort, but Bryant’s been impossible to stop. Must double-team him anywhere within the 3-point line in fourth quarter.
10:09: Robinson steals the ball! Dives on the floor, squirms, calls timeout! What hustle.
9:29: Tony Allen fouls Bryant. That’s okay. Allen can foul him all he wants.
9:12: Mike Breen says Gasol made “a heck of an attempt” on a last-second, tossing-a-prayer three. I heartily disagree. It was more like the kind of shot you would take if you were preparing to ride an inner tube down a lazy river in midsummer.
8:53: Ray Allen hits a jump shot! That’s what I’m talking about. What follows is a very messy loose ball sequence in which the players bounce off each other like pin balls. It ends with Tony Allen missing a layup (um) and Big Baby hauling down the rebound and putting it in. Can they keep up the pressure? No pressure, but only the season (and their last best chance for a title this generation) is on the line.
After the commercial break ends, Mark Jackson delivers the line of the game: “You know what babies do. No doubt about it. Big babies drool.” He says this in his Mark Jackson, overdramatic, guy’s guy voice. Wow.
7:25: Rasheed is called for a technical. As he erupts along the sideline, ABC goes silent for three noticeable moments, as he presumably swears. Argh.
6:16: Wallace redeems himself with a top-of-the-key three. Celtics up by 9.
5:49: Gasol hits a difficult runner. Man, that guy is good. Shortly thereafter, Robinson is fouled, then apparently taunts Lamar Odom. Van Gundy says he was “emotionally drunk.”
3:57: Big Baby goes to line with Celtics up by nine. Hits both, they’re up by 11. As Jackson keeps correctly pointing out, the Celtics have been winning with Robinson, Wallace, Allen, Big Baby, and Tony Allen – leaving the starters out while these guys get the job done.
3:00: Tony Allen shots a three. No. No…
2:51: Allen fouls Bryant. Fortunately, before his shot. Celtics up by 8.
2:16: A somewhat loose possession ends, thankfully, with a Pierce jumper. Bryant answers. Up by 6.
1:17: Garnett steals the ball, Rondo resets, hands off to Pierce – and for once I approve. Pierce does a classic drive in traffic, shot goes in, Bryant called for foul. Up by 9. Looking good…but never looking good enough with the 2009-2010 Boston Celtics, because they know drama better than TNT. (“T-N-T.”)
1:08: Ray Allen fouls Bryant on a three-pointer. D’oh. He makes all three foul shots.
0:32: Kobe’s coming down the court with the ball, down by 6 – it’s enough to make you clench up. Then finally some help defense, and Rondo steals the ball in the backcourt, takes it down and scores! Rondo steals the ball!
0:11: Kobe makes a crazy long three. Oh man. Cuts the lead to five.
0:00: Nice finish. Celtics 96, Lakers 89. They’ve done it again! The Good Celtics showed up tonight, played hard, and won with their defense, before their offense finally broke through. About eight guys made significant contributions.
And voila, we have ourselves a six-game series! Though you know it will go seven.
I think Doris Burke is taller than Nate Robinson.