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Wednesday , Aug , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest: ‘I partied hard as hell’ this summer

It's been fun -- a little too much fun. I partied hard as hell. I was gone. But the good thing is that I worked out (during that time). Last year at this time I was 270-something (pounds), and this year I'm 255, 258. I'm totally focused. Like this (cranberry and vodka drink in his hand) is probably my second drink in like a month, and usually in the summertime I get (his drinking) in. I get it in every night. But I'm going to come in at about 245, 240 this year, and get back to that Defensive Player of the Year weight.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It sounds like Ron Artest is mixing business and pleasure this summer.

And why wouldn’t he?

After all, the Los Angeles Lakers’ lockdown defender won his first NBA championship in June, saved the purple-and-gold with his clutch play in game seven of the Finals, and delivered the greatest celebratory interview in the history of pro sports.

To Artest’s credit, he didn’t overdo the partying this off-season, though. His weight is down and he’s determined to arrive at training camp at a spry 245 pounds.

The last time Artest tipped the scale at 245 pounds was 2003-04. That season he terrorized opponents for the Indiana Pacers and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

If Artest can turn back the clock, if he can find his past Pacer form for the Lakers, then the two-time defending champions will be in line for the three-peat.

And Artest will be partying ‘hard as hell’ in the summer of 2011, too.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Monday , Aug , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Pacers re-evaluate Stephenson after assault charge?

Lance Stephenson was charged with pushing his girlfriend down a flight of stairs, police said. Stephenson roughed up Jasmine Williams, 21, in the stairwell of her Brooklyn apartment building at about 5 a.m., according to police.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call:  Lance Stephenson, Indiana's second round pick in the 2010 Draft, hasn't be found guilty of anything; however, an assault charge on a girlfriend is worrying.

Domestic violence is wrong and troubling. Regradless of what happens in the courts, Stephenson and his girlfriend should seek professional help.

On a lesser note, this changes things for Stephenson and the Pacers. The Coney Island native had an excellent summer league and figured prominently into the club's rebuilding plans.

After several off-court incidents involving players, the Pacers have placed a premium on character. Executive Larry Bird traded or released Ron Artest,  Stephen Jackson, and Jamaal Tinsley for various infractions, so he'll surely re-evaluate Stephenson's standing.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.     

 

 

 

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Friday , Jul , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Matt Barnes the Lakers` new Ron Artest?

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Matt Barnes, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy terms of the contract were not released.

Barnes, a seven-year NBA veteran, appeared in 81 games (58 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.9 minutes while posting five double-doubles and leading the Magic in scoring six times, in rebounds on four occasions and in assists twice.


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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: If you want to join the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, challenge them.

Two years ago, Ron Artest - then the star of the Houston Rockets – sparred with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a classic Western Conference Semi-Final.

The Lakers prevailed in the series; however, Artest was the real winner, catching the eye of his foe and becoming a friend the following off-season when he inked a free agent pact with the purple-and-gold.

This year, Ron-Ron played a major role in the Lakers capturing their second consecutive NBA Title, and became a star with shout-outs to Queensbridge and his psychiatrist.

Flashback to the 2010 regular season, and Matt Barnes was a thorn in the Lakers` side. He battled. He defended. He talked smacked -declaring viral jihad against Lamar Odom, telling the forward on twitter he was going to put his child’s diaper in his mouth.

Naturally, Barnes signed with the Lakers this summer. Frankly, he’s perfect. The tough guy defends, hits the three, and, because he took a reduced salary, will keep the Lakers motivated in their quest for a third consecutive championship.

So Barnes got what he wanted. The defending champions got better. Sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship, which could end with a championship in June of 2011.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 

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Monday , Jul , 12 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

No thanks Miami: Fisher expected to re-sign with LA Lakers

Derek Fisher received an offer of the veteran's minimum from the Heat over the weekend, but he is likely to re-sign with the Lakers.

Fisher reportedly received a $2.5 million offer for next season from the Lakers. He has been seeking a two-year contract with a starting salary closer to the $5 million he made last season.

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Thanks, but no thanks.
 
This will likely be Derek Fisher's response to the star-studded Miami Heat putting the full court press on him over the weekend.
 
After all, oil slick GM and soon-to-be coach Pat Riley showered him with praise in their meeting. And LeBron James, in his first act as a member of the Heat, greeted him at the airport.
 
However, there's a problem: Miami has zero cap space. After their recent spending spree, they could only offer Fisher a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum.
 
Of course, the veteran guard has a pretty nice offer in his backpocket. The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are offering a two-year, $5 million pact.
 
So why would Fisher leave the purple-and-gold and pass on a chance at three-peating? Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade aside, why would Fisher uproot his family from his home in California for less money and term?
 
Throw in Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom, and you get the sense Fisher will soon be re-upping with the Lakers.
 
Frankly, this is the way it should be, the way it should end for the 36 year old combo guard.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.
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Saturday , Jul , 03 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Steve Blake or Derek Fisher?

Steve Blake has agreed to a four-year deal with the Lakers, according to a report from John Canzanao.

According to FanHouse, the deal is worth $16 million over four seasons.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It shouldn't be one or the other, but it is.
 
Word is the Los Angeles Lakers have signed Steve Blake to replace longtime favourite Derek Fisher at point guard.
 
Blake is a solid addition. He's smart, can stretch defenses with his range, and rarely gets beat off the dribble. The classic table-setter has a mean streak, too: legend has it he smashed a chair and brawled with teammates at an infamous Trail Blazer's practice in December of 2007, which helped save Portland's season.
 
So Blake fits. Just not at the expense of Fisher.
 
Sure, 'D-Fish' has weaknesses. The veteran struggles with the grind of the regular season and can't keep point guards in front of him on defense.
 
However, experience matters. Fisher won game four of the 2010 NBA Finals with 16 points in the second half. His 22 points kept the purple-and-gold in game five of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns, setting up Ron Artest to play hero with his last second put-back.
 
Numbers and statistics don't do him justice, though. His greatest strength is leadership. After all, Fisher smoothed over the tension between Coach Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. And he mentors younger teammates.
 
There's no way to measure his contribution. Unfortunately, the Lakers are doing exactly that, and management is stuck on one number: Fisher's 2010 salary.
 
They'll have Fisher back for 2011, but only if he takes a 50% pay cut on his $5 million per year salary.
 
Coming off a championship, this is a no-no. In fact, it's an insult. And Fisher - a proud person - will interpret it as such.
 
This is unfortunate. The Lakers would best be served with Blake and Fisher, not Blake instead of Fisher.
 
-- Oly Sandor.
 
Got thoughts?  Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.   
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Saturday , Jun , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest and T-Pain perform Champion

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Ron Artest promoted it during his interview with Doris Burke following game-seven. As promised, he released 'it' a few days later.

Of course, the 'it' is Artest's new hip hop single 'Champion'.

However, the world hasn't had the 'privilege' of seeing Ron-Ron perform 'Champion' live. Until now. And the lockdown defender has help in the form of Auto-tune crooner T-Pain. 

Watch the clip below and rate Artest and T-Pain's performance in the comment box.

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Wednesday , Jun , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

No surprise Kobe Bryant wants Raja Bell on Lakers

Kobe Bryant has become a strong advocate for Bell, a former nemesis. After missing most of the season with surgery to repair ligaments in his non-shooting wrist, Bell is still expected to be a coveted bench player among contending teams.

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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: No surprise here.

Sure, Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell engaged in a bloody war when the Los Angeles Lakers met the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 Western Conference Quarter-Finals. And sure, they exchanged elbows on-court and insults off-court.

However, these two squashed their beef following that memorable playoff. Bryant and Bell use the same agency, so their paths were bound to cross and when it did they discovered they liked each other.

And Bell would be perfect for the purple-and-gold. He can defend. He can knock down three-pointers. And his intensity would ensure complacency does set in.

Best of all, Bell would make the Lakers’ nasty defense nastier. He could come off the bench to form a terrific stopper unit with Ron Artest, Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom.

Expect these former foes to continue their new found friendship as teammates. And the strong, the two-time world champion Lakers, will be even stronger in 2011.

Got thoughts on Bell and Bryant joining forces? 

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Tuesday , Jun , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest: ‘Boston sucks, Boston sucks’

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The inevitable happened at the Los Angeles Lakers' championship parade on Monday.

Ron Artest - who was amazing in the all important game-seven and was even better in a celebratory interview with Doris Burke - got his hands on a microphone.

Of course, Artest, in his role as MC, showed love to teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. And of course, he couldn't resist taking a shot at the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

Watch the clip and get at us with thoughts on Ron-Ron's message for the green-and-white.   

 Got thoughts?

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Sunday , Jun , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest releases Champion

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: In his now legendary interview following game-seven of the NBA Finals, Ron Artest told the world he'd be releasing a new hip hop single called Champion.

Well, the popular Los Angeles Laker didn`t waste any time.

Artest`s latest work is out, so take a listen - if you dare - to the 'Tru Warrier' and get at us with thoughts in the comment box. 

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

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Friday , Jun , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest and Doris Burke: Greatest Interview Ever?

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: From Tha Malice N' Tha Palace to charming the world with a sincere and honest interview following the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA Title in a close game-seven against the upstart Boston Celtics.

Yes, it's been a wild ride for Ron Artest, the somewhat unstable, but good natured three-man for the world champion Lakers. Even his harshest critic had to smile after watching Queensbridge shout out his hood, give props to the club, thank his doctor and psychiatrist, and promote his new hip hop single in a quick conversation with ABC's stunned sideline reporter Doris Burke.

There's only question left for Artest: what on earth will he do next?

Is this the greatest interview ever? Watch Artest in the clip below and get at us with thoughts?  

 

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Friday , Jun , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Sweet Repeat: Bryant and Lakers win game seven and defend NBA Title

Beating Boston for the first time in a Game 7, the Lakers came up champions again after trailing in the last quarter of the last game of their season.

Kobe Bryant, the finals MVP, scored 23 points despite 6-of-24 shooting and the Lakers won their 16th NBA championship Thursday night, dramatically rallying to beat the  Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA finals.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call:  In game-seven of the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers showed that defense wins championships.

After all, tonight’s game was supposed to be a dream match-up between the Celtics and Lakers, but – at least on the offensive end – it resembled a bit of nightmare.

Both teams couldn’t execute their offensive sets. Both teams couldn’t hit shots. So both teams dug-in, defended, and battled.

Take the victorious Lakers: Kobe Bryant, the Finals MVP, shot a horrendous 6-for-24 from the floor, but grabbed 15 huge rebounds; Pau Gasol pulled in 18 tough rebounds, which offset his missed chippies and free throws; and Ron Artest – who thanked his psychiatrist in a classic Ron-Ron post-game interview – hit clutch shots, however, his greatest contribution was battling Celtic superstar Paul Pierce.

As a group, the purple-and-gold overcame a 13-point second-half deficit and won their second consecutive championship by getting stops. For instance, they held the Celtics to just 79 points on 40% shooting from the floor.

Lamar Odom sparked the turnaround. The forward entered the game in the third quarter with the Lakers trailing 49-37 and looking desperate.

Odom used his considerable length and versatility to score, rebound, and most importantly, provide energy. And his contribution was far greater than his modest stat line of 7 points and 7 rebounds.   

Boston led for most of the game and looked capable of pulling off the upset to win their second championship in three years.

Their offense went cold for long stretches of the second half. For instance, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the Celtics’ top scorers, were a combined 8-for-29 from the floor.

And the talented bench – which so often provided a lift when the starters struggled – had little impact. Of course, the reserves were short-handed with Rasheed Wallace replacing the injured Kendrick Perkins in the starting-five.

Tonight, Bryant’s Lakers defeated the Celtics for the first time in a game-seven duel, something greats like Jerry West and Magic Johnson failed to accomplish.

Winning back-to-back championships cements this team’s place in history. And their leader and best player, Bryant, keeps solidifying his standing as an all-time great.

And the Lakers, the NBA’s glamour team, achieved this feat with grimy, blue-collar defense.

Got thoughts on the Lakers winning game-seven and consecutive championships?

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Thursday , Jun , 17 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Jeff Van Gundy to Ron Artest: ‘Say Queensbridge Now’

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Ron Artest is pure gold.

Who else would get Craig Sager to shoutout their home of Queensbridge, New York in a post-game interview after winning game-five of the Western Conference Finals? And who else would openly discuss their old neighbourhood with the media?

Well, Ron-Ron would.

However, the Lakers' resident tough guy isn't above some soft tactics, especially with a championship on the line. In game-five of the NBA Finals, Artest flopped to the ground - like the San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili - after getting 'shoved' by the Celtics' Rajon Rondo.

Artest weighs 270 pounds, while Rondo tips the scale at, perhaps, 190. Tale of the tape aside, Artest's actions are forgivable because his flop was rewarded with a technical foul being called on Rondo and drew the humorous rankling of broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy.

Watch the clip below and tell us if Artest's flop would make Queensbridge proud?

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Thursday , Jun , 17 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Game-Seven Prediction: Lakers 95, Celtics 88.

The Lakers have the best player, but Boston's depth of big-time playmakers will prevail in a game like this. I count eight Celtics -- the four current or former All-Stars in their starting lineup, plus Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson’s and little-used Michael Finley, a three-point shooter with the potential to become this game's Steve Kerr -- who have it in them to make the big shot. The absence of Kendrick Perkins may create more offense for the Celtics, and they'll make up for his rebounding with a team effort led by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Anticipate nothing less than a tightly wound classic played to a tempo that suits Boston.

Click here for Ian Thomsen's official game seven prediction and more analysis from the CNNSI crew.

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call:
The Boston Celtics are deserving of respect.

Consider their road to the NBA Finals. First, they took out Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat -despite some questionable tactics from Kevin Garnett. They made the Cleveland Cavaliers – the NBA’s best team in the regular season – implode, which, unfortunately, gave us an extra month of The LeBron Watch. They then coolly took out the Orlando Magic, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, in six games.

This was a most improbable run for a club that was supposedly dead, gone, and over at mid-season. Clearly, they saved their best for last, though.

The green-and-white have now pushed the defending champion and heavily favoured Lakers to the limit. The secret to Boston’s success: inspired team play on the defensive end.

Look at the NBA Finals: they’ve mostly contained Ron Artest and Lamar Odom; they’ve battled superstar Pau Gasol; and they’ve made the immortal Kobe Bryant look surprisingly mortal.

Doc Rivers’ crew is an all-time great defensive team. They can hang with any of Phil Jackson’s Chicago teams that had notable defenders like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman. And they hold their own against Detroit’s Bad Boys and any of Pat Riley’s squads in Los Angeles or New York.

Offensively, somebody different carries the load each night. For instance, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo have all had moments.

Of course, reserves Glen Davis and Nate Robinson – also known as Shrek and Donkey - won game four of the NBA Finals. And the defending Sprite Slam Dunk Champion went off in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, too.

That said, the Lakers have the edge in the decisive game-seven. Here’s why:

1) Home-court matters: The purple-and-gold is a different team at home. They’re confident. They’re nasty. And they’re arrogant.     

2) No Perk’: The Celtics will miss Kendrick Perkins. They lack the size to win the paint, and contain Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

3) Kobe Bryant: He’s the best player on either team. He’s the best player in the NBA. And he understands tonight is a legacy game.

Bryant – if he wants to be considered an all-time great – can’t afford a loss. After all, five championships are far better than four. And two losses to the arch rival Celtics in the NBA Finals would be devastating.

Expect Bryant to drop a Jordan-like effort. And HoopsVibe News expects the Lakers to win.

Prediction for game-seven of the 2010 NBA Finals: Lakers 95, Boston 88.

Got thoughts? What is your prediction for game-seven of the NBA Finals?  

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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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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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Wednesday , Jun , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Video: Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Phil Jackson talk NBA Finals

HoopsVibe's Quick Call: With several days lag time between the conference finals and championship series, it's understandable if fans are restless.

After all, you've watched numerous panel hits on TNT and NBATV; you've listened to analysts on satellite radio; you've read about match-ups on-line and in newspapers; and you've been tormented by the know-it-all at the office water cooler.

Well, the NBA Finals isn't quite here. However, HoopsVibe News has the next best thing: video of the Los Angeles Lakers talking about their upcoming series with the Boston Celtics.

As usual, watch the clip and get us with thoughts in the comment box below.  

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Monday , May , 31 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest’s greatest regret: ‘bailing out on that Pacer team’

"The biggest regret of my life, really, is bailing out on that Pacer team," Artest said. "I mean, outside not going to church every single Sunday, bailing out on that Pacer team is my biggest regret. Every time I see Jermaine, every time I see Steve [Jackson] and Jamaal [Tinsley] ... I get a little bit of a feeling when I see Bird, because he was such a great player and I respect him so much. So I get that feeling when I see Bird. I feel like a coward. I feel like I don't even belong in their presence, really."

"When I saw Jermaine [this season], I felt like I didn't even belong in the same room as him," Artest said. "I felt like a coward. I don't like feeling like a coward, and I feel like a coward. That's the biggest regret of my life. Steve Jackson, Jermaine, Jamaal, even Jeff [Foster] -- a blue-collar guy like him, put his life on the line for us on the court, and I totally disrespected him. And of course Reggie. I was in a position to win a championship, Reggie was in position, and I bailed out on Reggie. I feel like a coward. A big-time coward. It's hard for me to even speak to them, hard for me to see them."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: Love him or hate him, Ron Artest is honest and his heart seems to be in the right place.

After all, few athletes in the cut throat, macho world of pro sports would publicly admit to such feelings, especially about an incident that took place years ago with the Indiana Pacers.

Still, it's great Artest understands the impact his actions have on others. And, in some strange way, it's hard not to cheer for him -regardless of what you think about the Los Angeles Lakers.

Got thoughts on Ron-Ron's comments? Get at us in the opinion box below.        

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe and Lakers oust Suns, face Celtics in NBA Finals

Get ready, Boston, for a rematch with Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant wrapped up a magnificent series with 37 points, Ron Artest added 25 and the Lakers held off the Phoenix Suns 111-103 on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers and Celtics, the NBA's premier teams for much of the league's history, will meet in the finals for the 12th time with Game 1 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"We'll see how much we matured," Bryant said. "They challenged us extremely well in the finals a couple years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: The Phoenix Suns' zone, fast tempo, and affinity for the three-point shot wasn't enough because the Los Angeles Lakers were simply better and deserved to advance to the NBA Finals.

For instance, the Suns' fourth quarter charge was put out by Kobe Bryant, who nailed two clutch jumpers, even though Grant Hill was playing air tight defense. After sinking the second jumper, Bryant even gave Suns coach Alvin Gentry a friendly tap and stretched his arms in celebration.   

The Lakers will now face the Boston Celtics in a classic finals match-up.

These two teams met in the 2008 NBA Finals, with the Celtics prevailing in six games because of their superior toughness down-low.

The 2010 championship will also be decided in the paint. Expect Boston to try and impose their will with bigs like Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, and Rasheed Wallace, while L.A. will be anxious to show they can mix it up in the middle.

Got thoughts on a Boston-Los Angeles NBA Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe for more Finals coverage.   

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Saturday , May , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will L.A. Lakers make Alvin Gentry and Phoenix Suns sick in game six?

HoopsVibe's Quick Call: It would have been understandable if this was Alvin Gentry's reaction to Jason Richardson forgetting to box-out and allowing Ron Artest to win game five of the Western Conference Finals with a bank shot at the buzzer.

However, J-Rich's mishap wasn't the cause of the Phoenix Suns' sideline boss coming down with a case of gag reflex.

Instead, Gentry got up close and personal with the trash because of an upset stomach during the second quarter of Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Watch the clip, if you like, and tell us if Gentry will be need the Pepto Bismol for game six of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Suns.  

(Charles Barkley: That is what you get for eating deep fried avocado.)