Intensity. From the opening tip, the Los Angeles Lakers brought it with them to Staples Center. They had all the energy, forced the Celtics into panic mode, winning game six, 89-67. There will be a decisive game seven to decide the NBA champion this year and everybody is happy about that, unless you are a Boston Celtic.
From the outset, Laker players could be seen boxing out for offensive rebounds, diving for loose basketballs and sprinting down court on defense. What a difference a couple of days and your own pillow can make.
The Laker defense was clearly frustrated the Celtic shooters, who never did get any rhythm going. Ray Allen did put in 19, however, a 13 point Celtic second quarter sealed their fate.
Rebounding was a dominant Laker affair as the home team grabbed a 52- 39 advantage. Kobe Bryant lead all Laker scorers with 26. Gasol and Artest contributed 17 and 15 respectively.
The Laker team defense was so good that the relatively low total of 89 points was plenty. For Laker fans, it was comforting to watch various players dive and not just reach for a loose basketball.
These retained possessions quickly led to a cushion lead that would never be threatened.
Suddenly, this Laker team is no longer cautious. As coach Phil Jackson might say,‘they have found themselves’. When Laker teams play like they did on Tuesday night, physical teams like the Celtics have difficulty slowing the game down.
The Lakers have yet to win two consecutive games during this series.
This pattern may be out the window, especially after the Celtics lost their center, Kendrick Perkins to a knee injury in the first quarter.
The Laker starters and support players all appear to be playing at their highest level. Coach Jackson doesn’t need to say too much to motivate a championship team, to lay it all out for 48 minutes.
The script has been written, the balloons are in the rafters and game seven will be played out on Thursday night.
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