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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shannon Brown ‘Getting On Up’ in Game-SIx of the NBA Finals

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Lamar Odom is grabbing rebounds and bouncing a little when dribbling up-court. Ron Artest doesn't resemble a lost tourist in the triangle. Pau Gasol asserts his will in the paint. Instead of pacing the sideline and dropping quotes about collecting oneself, Phil Jackson is laying back in his throne -also known as The Ergonomically Correct Chair. Kobe Braynt is 'facilitating' rather than scoring. Sasha Vujacic, the self proclaimed machine, is knocking down three-pointers, alienating opponents, and styling his straight-outta-Slovenia do. And those celebs' rocking courtside seats at Staples Center are flashing their Hollywood smiles for ABC.

If you haven't guessed it, these are signs the Los Angeles Lakers are winning. However, there is a notable omission: Shannon Brown's highlight reel jams.

The purple-and-gold always seems to win when the 2010 Sprite Slam Dunk Gets On Up like Jodeci and rocks the rim for two points.

(Yes, HoopsVibe News is referencing the classically cheesy R&B group from the 1990s. And sadly, HoopsVibe News is old enough to legitimately do so.) 

Consider game-six of the NBA Finals. First Brown rammed home a one-handed breakaway jam and then he rubbed his man off an Odom back-pick, grabbed an alley-oop toss and converted an amazing jam.

Both dunks inspired teammates and fans. Not surprisingly, the Lakers won game-six of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

And they're hoping -at least in California - that Brown repeats his aerial antics in game-seven, even if it's got that Jodeci thing going on.   

Got thoughts? Did Brown Get On Up like Jodeci.

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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Do-or-Die: Bryant and Lakers ‘man up’ to force game-seven against Celtics

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers emphatically extended the NBA finals to a decisive seventh game with a 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 on Tuesday night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Two days ago, Kobe Bryant demanded his teammates 'man up and play'. Well, the Los Angeles Lakers - both individually and collectively - fulfilled his request on Tuesday evening.

The purple-and-gold dominated every aspect of game six, building an early lead through tough defense, infectious hustle, and inspired play. The Celtics never mounted a serious challenge and the Lakers cruised through the second half to an easy win.

The difference between games five and six was obvious: Bryant had help. Loads of it.

For instance, co-star Pau Gasol had a double-double, but - best of all - the Spaniard imposed his will down-low; Ron Artest hit shots; Lamar Odom stopped complaining about the flu and got active; and Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic provided energy off the bench.

Two specific plays stand out. First, Artest was so confident he over-dribbled and still sank an improbable fall-back shot. Second, Farmar out-hustled Celtic Rajon Rondo for a loose ball by sacrificing his body and diving on the floor.

Bryant aside, no Laker looked confident or sacrificed in game-five.

As a group, L.A. played superb defense. They challenged every shot. They provided helped. They got stops. They won the battle of the boards. And they held the Celtics to 67 points, the second lowest total in NBA Finals history.

Meanwhile, Boston resembled a team with a one game cushion. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo were outplayed by the Lakers' big guns. The bench - which had been so effective earlier in the series - looked awestruck.

Of course, Kendrick Perkins' injury didn't help. The rough and tumble post sprained his knee early in the first quarter and never returned. His status for game-seven is unknown.

With or without Perkins, the green-and-white must re-establish their presence in the paint and show greater urgency on Thursday.

In fact, the Celtics should consider Bryant's advice and 'man up'. Or the Lakers will win what has become a one game, do-or-die NBA Finals and will hoist the Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

Got thoughts on game six? And what's your prediction for Thursday's game-seven?             

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Tuesday , Jun , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lakers need Lamar Odom to ‘man up’

"I haven't been sick all season … now I'm sick in the Finals," said Odom after the Lakers' 92-86 loss to the Celtics here in Game 5. "Had to put my hard hat on just to get out of bed. It was tough.

"We get to go home and I'll be in my own bed in my own house," he said. "And get to see my wife."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Perhaps, Lamar Odom missed the press conference where Kobe Bryant told his Laker teammates to 'man up and play'.

Complaining about the flu, wanting your own bed, and needing to see your wife doesn't exactly qualify as manning up. In fact, it's copping out. 

This, however, is typical Odom.

At his best, he's a wonderful talent, capable of playing all five positions and stuffing every category in the box sheet. At his worst, he's a passenger, disappearing in the clutch and sometimes for entire games.

So Odom is a enigma, which is unfortunate for the Lakers because he's their barometer. When he plays well, they rarely lose. When he struggles, they become vulnerable.

And what Odom shows for game-six and seven will determine if the Lakers can come back against the Celtics.

Got thoughts on this?     

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Tuesday , Jun , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant to the Lakers: ‘man up and play’

We’ve regressed since Game 1,” Bryant confessed to Yahoo! Sports. “Our defense belongs on milk cartons in the last two games.”

“Just man up and play,” Bryant sniffed. “What’s the big deal? If I have to say something to them, then we don’t deserve to be champions.”

“Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that [bleep].”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Kobe Bryant’s outburst a ploy to motivate teammates or is he legitimately feeling the pressure of the NBA Finals?

On the one hand, Bryant is the game’s greatest competitor. Losing isn’t acceptable. And he’s never had issue challenging his fellow Los Angeles Lakers.

On the other hand, the superstar knows the stakes are high. If his heavily favoured Lakers lose the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, his standing as an all-time great player and with the purple-and-gold will forever be altered.

Whatever his motivation, whatever his reason, Bryant is clearly desperate. He needs someone, anyone to step up in game-six and seven.

Got thoughts on Kobe Bean’s comments?

Kobe Bryant brought heart and fire. Can’t do it alone! Vol. 2010 Game 5 NBA Finals
Tuesday , Jun , 15 , 2010 J.N.

Kobe Bryant brought heart and fire. Can’t do it alone! Vol. 2010 Game 5 NBA Finals

This is another episode in the long series called, “Can anybody other than Kobe score?” In the game 5 episode called, “The one where Kobe gets hot in the 3rd quarter,” Pau Gasol still has not shed the “soft” label. Ron Artest’s offense is crappy. People will make excuses for him not being familiar with the triangle offense. That is crap. Man up. This is the Finals. Boston’s defense is just that good to make him look dazed and confused.

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Monday , Jun , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

The Big Four Deliver: Allen, Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo lead Boston to game-five win

It's looking a lot like 2008 again, with Paul Pierce carrying the Boston Celtics to victory in the NBA finals and leading them to the brink of yet another title.

Pierce scored 27 points -- his best performance of this year's finals -- and the Celtics withstood 38 points from Kobe Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-86 on Sunday night and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: On Friday, Kobe Bryant told reporters he was miserable because of his poor play. Tonight, he'll be miserable for a different reason.

The Los Angeles Lakers' superstar raised his play, even scoring an astounding 19 points in the third quarter; however, his co-stars all had poor nights, which was the reason for the game-five loss.

For instance, Ron Artest struggled on both ends of the floor; Pau Gasol's 12 points and 12 rebounds won't cut it in the NBA Finals; Andrew Bynum - wonky knee or not - should've been better than 6 points and 1 rebound; and Lamar Odom was a non-factor.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics won with balance. The Big Four delivered: Paul Pierce found his touch and had a team-high 27 points; Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo combined for 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists; and Ray Allen had an efficient 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

While the bench didn't repeat their game four heroics, they still contributed. Tony Allen, Nate Robinson, and Rasheed Wallace hit some shots, played tough defense, and, best of all, brought energy.

And this was the difference in game five. As a group, the Celtics seemed determined. Other than Bryant, the Lakers seemed flustered.

In the second half, Tony Allen gave the Celtics a surge with his tremendous weak side block on Pau Gasol. Then, in the closing moments, the 6-3 Rondo leaped the 6-10 Odom for an improbable tip-in basket to seal the win.

With the exception of Bryant, no Laker had a momentum changing moment or timely play. The purple-and-gold had too many passengers on this night.

Despite trailing in the series, the Lakers still have home-court advantage with game-six and seven at Staples Center.

The Lakers must improve, though. Or the Celtics will win the NBA championship and Bryant will be more than miserable.

Got thoughts on game five? Get at us in the comment box below.            

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Saturday , Jun , 12 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Good, Not Great: Kobe Bryant’s play in the NBA Finals

Bryant has averaged 28.3 points on 40.9 percent shooting in the four games. His points haven’t come easily, and in Thursday’s Game 4 loss he also committed seven turnovers, matching his most of the postseason. "That's just me playing like crap," Bryant said. 

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Good, but not great.

This is the best way to describe Kobe Bryant's play in the NBA Finals. He turned in solid performances through the first three games; however, he struggled down the stretch in Thursday's game four loss.

Bryant - who is his own harshest critic - will be the first to admit that good doesn't cut it in June.

To be fair, the Boston Celtics are an excellent defensive club. As a group, they're all about getting stops. And Tony Allen is making his bones as a lockdown defender in the NBA Finals against Bryant, successfully forcing the future Hall of Famer left and making him work especially hard for each and every point.

With the NBA Finals now a best-of-three affair, Bryant will step up. He understands his legacy at stake. Two losses in the NBA Finals to the Celtics would impact his standing both as an all-time great Laker and player.

Expect Bryant to be great, not good, for game 5, 6, and, if necessary, 7.

Got thought on Kobe's play so far?   

 

   

2010 NBA Finals Game 4 – Pierce punches ref’s face and Big Baby is good.
Saturday , Jun , 12 , 2010 J.N.

2010 NBA Finals Game 4 – Pierce punches ref’s face and Big Baby is good.

Come on Los Angeles. You’re better than this. Shout outs to Shrek and Donkey AKA Big Baby Glen Davis and Nate Robinson.  They stepped up when it mattered. Davis added 18 points and Nasty Nate provided 12 points. Lamar Odom disappeared as usual with 10 points in nearly 40 minutes of game time. Andrew Bynum could not get his game going, which resulted in Phil Jackson yanking him out early. The nagging injury is really affecting him.

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Friday , Jun , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Praise the bench: Glen Davis and Nate Robinson lead Celtics to game four win over Lakers

Backup Glen "Big Baby" Davis scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Celtics bench as it pulled away from the Los Angeles Lakers to win 96-89 on Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston. The Celtics' win guaranteed them a trip back to Los Angeles and averted a 3-1 deficit that has never been overcome in NBA history.

Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Lakers.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Down the stretch, the Boston Celtics needed a spark. And their bench answered the call, winning game four for the green-and-white.

With starters Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo struggling, coach Doc Rivers went with four reserves and first-stringer Ray Allen for most of the fourth quarter.

And this makeshift unit responded in the final frame: Glen Davis tallied 9 of his 18 points; Nate Robinson scored and set up others; Tony Allen forced Kobe Bryant left and made the game's best player work for every point; and Rasheed Wallace's length and physicality eventually wore on Pau Gasol.

Best of all, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Davis, Robinson, and Wallace brought an energy that Boston was missing for most of the game.

The news gets worse for the Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum sat out the entire second half and only played 12 minutes because of his injured knee.

Bynum's numbers have been mediocre due to his poor health; however, his height and length has given the Celtics problems. Also, with Bynum on-court, Gasol can shift to the four-spot, his natural position.

However, give the Celtics credit. They capitalized on Bynum's absence. And their bench came through in the clutch.

Got thoughts on game four?   

2010 NBA Finals Game 3 – Paul Pierce is going back to Los Angeles.
Thursday , Jun , 10 , 2010 J.N.

2010 NBA Finals Game 3 – Paul Pierce is going back to Los Angeles.

Paul Pierce should have never opened his mouth towards the end of game 2. The Celtics have to pull an LL Cool J by headin’ back to Cali stylin’ and profilin.’ The game was embarrassing for P-Squared. He was to be out done by Ray Allen. He was scorching hot in game 2. He played like a bumbling idiot in game 3. Ray Ray couldn’t hit any type of shot out there. 0-13? That’s bloody awful especially in the NBA Finals at home. I thought he was entering John Starks’ level. I was wrong. He went beyond that.  

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Tuesday , Jun , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lamar gone MIA? How the Lakers find Odom

These have been forgettable games for Lamar Odom, a sixth man gone asunder in the most important series of the season.

The Lakers aren't playing Phoenix any longer, as Odom could definitely attest, the 14 points and 11.8 rebounds he averaged in the Western Conference finals apparently a thing of the past now that the Lakers are playing Boston in the NBA Finals.

Odom had a five-point, five-foul debacle in Game 1 that somehow got worse Sunday in Game 2, when he finished with three points and five fouls in the Lakers' 103-94 loss.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He is the Los Angeles Lakers’ barometer.

When Lamar Odom has his A-game, the Lakers are unbeatable. No other team can bring a versatile, play all five positions type off the bench?

But Odom is somewhat of an enigma. Most of the time, he's brilliant. Some of the time, he disappears.

For instance, former coach and ABC broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy often calls the four-man a top thirty player in the NBA.

At times, such praise is warranted. Last year, he was brilliant as a sixth man for the purple-and-gold. And years ago, he looked like the second coming of Magic Johnson when he led an upstart Miami Heat squad to the second round.

Odom's reputation for going MIA prompted Phoenix Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire to call his 19 point, 19 rebound performance in game one of the Western Conference Finals 'lucky'.

Unfortunately Odom has vanished through the first two games of the NBA Finals (he's averaging a sub par 4 points and 4 rebounds). This doesn’t bode well for the Lakers, so here’s how Coach Jackson fixes the situation:

1) Go to Odom early and often. The coaches must put him in the game no later than half way through the first quarter.

2) Get him involved. Derek Fisher or Kobe Bryant, the veteran leaders, should call a play or two for him in the half court set.

3) ‘Run, Lamar, Run’. Odom needs to use his length and athleticism to score easy points in transition.

4)  Get on the glass. Odom is at his best when grabbing rebounds. The other parts of his game follows suit. 

Got thoughts on how the Lakers get Odom going? 

2010 NBA Finals Game 2 – Jesus Shuttlesworth sets a new record.
Tuesday , Jun , 08 , 2010 J.N.

2010 NBA Finals Game 2 – Jesus Shuttlesworth sets a new record.

Black Jesus was en fuego. How did the Lakers’ defense let this man get hot like that? After game 1, you had to know that the Boston Celtics were not going to play like that again. Ray Allen lit up the NBA world with eight three pointers – NBA Finals record. The certified top 4 point guard in the league, Rajon Rondo, posted up a triple double: 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce played like trash, but the Celtics escaped LA with a win.

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Monday , Jun , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant on LeBron James’ free agency: ‘I don’t give a bleep’

 

"You're asking me if LeBron is going to New York?" Bryant told The Post. "I'm trying to tell you in a polite way, I don't give a [bleep].

"As a fan, it's a big deal," Kobe added. "You're talking about LeBron and Dwyane Wade, it's two huge names changing cities. It alters things drastically in the NBA. But I really don't care about it."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Kobe Bryant has often been accused of misreading public opinion. This time, however, his opinion is bang on.
 
The LeBron James free agency sweepstakes are out of control and in overkill mode, forcing fans, media, teams, and even the player in question to act in an irrational and bizarre manner. 
 
Hopefully, LeBron signs soon after the July 1st market opens and the basketball world can get back to basketball. More and more, the public is starting to feel like Bryant. 
 
Do you still give a bleep about LeBron's future? Why? Why not?
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Monday , Jun , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rondo and Ray-Ray knock-out Lakers, Celtics win game two

Ray Allen scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half with a record-setting 3-point shooting display, Rajon Rondo completed a triple-double down the stretch and the Boston Celtics evened the NBA finals with a 103-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 Sunday night.

Allen hit a finals-record eight 3-pointers in a dazzling effort for the Celtics. Rondo then took charge after Allen cooled down, racking up 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in his fifth playoff triple-double to hand Los Angeles its first home loss of the postseason.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: They came. They saw. And they got their all important split on the road.

After winning one-of-two games in Staples Center, the Boston Celtics have momentum against the defending champion and heavily favoured Los Angeles Lakers.

There were three reasons Boston turned the table against L.A., and took game two:

1) Obviously, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen had terrific games. Rondo dropped a Jason Kidd like, triple-double, while Allen stretched the defense with an NBA Finals record eight-3 pointers.

2) Rondo, Allen, and the Celtics got points in transition. For instance, the Celtics ran quick pick-and-rolls and pushed the ball, which surprised the Lakers' defense.

3) Boston got back to blue-collar basketball. They ran down loose balls. They set the tempo. And they out-hustled LA. This intensity and effort, led by reserve Glen Davis, was a major reason Kobe Bryant was in foul trouble most of the night.

The next three games of the NBA Finals are in Boston. If the Celtics can keep momentum and hold at home, they may just secure their eighteenth championship banner.   

Got thoughts on game two? Get at us in the comment box.

The Michael Jordan Shadow is more epic than anyone’s existence.
Saturday , Jun , 05 , 2010 J.N.

The Michael Jordan Shadow is more epic than anyone’s existence.

Michael Jordan officially retired back in 1998. The Washington Wizards comeback does not count because there was a ghost in the shell controlling his aging body during the time. With the nth epic battle between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals and the mega 2010 Free Agent class signings shortly thereafter, one has to wonder how the MJ shadow became grand and legendary. It’s just frightening how massive this shadow has grown in the shape of a Jump Man.

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Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Dan Gilbert let LeBron replace Ferry as Cleveland’s de facto GM?

Danny Ferry is out as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, choosing not to re-sign his contract that was set to expire in June. The decision comes as a surprise but was made days ago, and complicates the most important offseason in team history.

Ferry's departure Friday after five seasons occurred two weeks after the club fired coach Mike Brown following the team's second-round loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs. It also comes as the team is making plans to try to re-sign two-time MVP LeBron James, who will be a free agent next month.

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: It's official. The inmate, LeBron James, is running the asylum -even if he has a foot out the free agent door.

Ferry's firing comes as a surprise because days ago reports indicated the retired forward and owner Dan Gilbert had essentially agreed on an extension.

Apparently, the stumbling block was authority. Ferry rightfully thought a GM needed control over basketball operations. He wasn't prepared to deal with Gilbert or James meddling in personnel decisions.

So he left.

Assistant GM Chris Grant will slide into the big chair in the executive suite. However, it remains to be seen how much authority Grant will have as the new GM.

Expect Gilbert to be very involved this summer. If James resigns, Gilbert and Grant will likely let the superstar pick the new coach and have a large say in all basketball related decisions.

This isn't the way to run a winning organization. For instance, Tim Duncan always defers to coach Gregg Popovich and executive R.C. Buford. The Los Angeles Lakers started winning when Kobe Bryant quit commenting to random fans outside of strip malls about swapping Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd and focused on basketball. And even the great Michael Jordan had little say in the happenings of the Chicago Bulls.

So Gilbert, who doesn't have James' name on a new deal, is taking a risk in re-structuring his entire organization to suit his free agent superstar.

Got thoughts on Ferry leaving the Cavaliers? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Why Kobe Bryant really ignored Chris Rock

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He had nothing.

During a second half timeout in game one of the NBA Finals, comedian Chris Rock, who was lounging in courtside seats next to the Los Angeles Lakers' bench, tried talking smack to Kobe Bryant.

The shooting guard ignored him. It was like Rock - the loudmouth star of critically and commercially successful films like Death at a Funeral, Head of State, and Down to Earth - didn't even exist. 

ABC broadcaster Mark Jackson suggested Bryant was able to tune-out the former Saturday Night Live star because of his incredible focus. And Bryant was certainly in Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight mode. 

However, Bryant has a memory -a very long memory. And perhaps, he had seen Rock's notorious stand-up act (please use your discretion if clicking the link) and was keeping his emotions in check.

Get at us with thoughts in the comment box on Kobe vs. Chris? 

Phil Jackson never loses after winning game one. Vol. 47-0
Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 J.N.

Phil Jackson never loses after winning game one. Vol. 47-0

The Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Boston Celtics in the first game of the NBA Finals, 102-89. Kobe Bryant cleaned up with 30 points on 10-22 shooting (1-2 from three, 9-10 from the line) to go with 7 boards, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 4 turnovers. Pau Gasol produced 23 points on 8-14 shooting (7-10 from the line) to go with 14 boards (8 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, and 3 turnovers. At one point, the Lakers were up by 20. The most alarming stat is Phil Jackson’s 47-0 perfect record when he leads his team to a game one victory. Wow.

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Friday , Jun , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lakers bang, bully, and beat up Celtics, win game one

So the Celtics want to play rough again? Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look ready this time around, and they barged into an early lead in the NBA finals.

Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and defending champion Los Angeles got tough in a 102-89 victory over Boston in the NBA finals opener Thursday night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: After getting banged, bullied, and beaten in the 2008 championship series, the Los Angeles Lakers turned the tables on the Boston Celtics in game one of the 2010 NBA Finals.

The Lakers went inside early and often, using the size of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to grab a half-time lead. Then Kobe Bryant took over with a strong third and fourth quarter to seal an easy win.

However, this game was decided in the middle. The Lakers' bigs showed up. Other than Glen Davis, the Celtics' bigs did not.

For instance, on one sequence in the final frame, Kevin Garnett missed two point blank attempts. The purple-and-gold corralled the rebound, found Gasol on the elbow, who then threw a bullet pass to the lanky Lamar Odom for an easy hoop. 

Boston better get physical on Sunday or they'll head home down 0-2. 

Get at us in the comment box with thoughts on game one of the NBA Finals.     

How can any Western Conference squad defeat Kobe’s Lakers?
Wednesday , Jun , 02 , 2010 J.N.

How can any Western Conference squad defeat Kobe’s Lakers?

This is an intriguing challenge because ever since the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol as a gift from long time former general manager Jerry West, the team is unbeatable. The squad can be beaten in one game because it’s just one game – mad random. In a seven game series, however, no team in the West can knock off the Purple and Gold. I just do not see this happening as long as Kobe Bryant is at his peak running the team. What does a team have to have to be able to defeat them?

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