Commentary

Doug Mann's Lakers Stats

Updated: June 7, 2010, 2:55 PM ET
By Doug Mann | 710 ESPN Radio Los Angeles

Prior to the start of Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night at STAPLES Center, the NBA paid tribute to legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who passed away on Friday night at the age of 99, four months shy of his 100th birthday. Two players who Coach Wooden regarded as the greatest who ever played for him, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (known during his career at UCLA as Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton spoke eloquently of the man who was selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. John Wooden was a man who stressed the importance of the fundamentals of the game.

It would have been interesting to get the late coach's thoughts on the game that followed, a 103-94 victory by the Boston Celtics over the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics were able to seize the home court advantage from the Lakers in knotting the series at 1-1. It was the Lakers first loss on their home court during this post-season (now 9-1).

[+] EnlargeJohn Wooden
AP Photo/Darron CummingsWhether he was on the court or off, John Wooden was a teacher.

The Lakers turned in a poor defensive effort, marked by blown assignments and allowing Celtics shooters too many uncontested shots.

Ray Allen hit an NBA Finals record eight 3-pointers (7-8 in the first half), and torched the Lakers for 27 points in the first half. He led all scorers with 32 points.

Allen's teammate Rajon Rondo, provided the lift for Boston in the second half. Rondo had a triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, which helped enable the Celtics to beat back a Lakers comeback which began in the closing minutes of the first half.

Boston was leading 54-41 with 2:00 remaining in the second quarter, when the Lakers went on a 16-2 run to take the lead at 57-56 with 10:02 remaining in the third quarter (3:58 elapsed time). That run by the Lakers was preceded by a stretch of over 6 minutes where they did not score a field goal.

Boston put together a run of their own when it counted the most. The Lakers led 90-87 with 5:21 remaining in the game, when the Celtics embarked on a 16-4 run the rest of the way, thanks in no small part to Rondo, who single handedly took over the game in the closing minutes. He hit a jumper to increase the Celtics lead to 95-90 with 1:59 remaining, blocked a 3-point shot attempt by Derek Fisher, and also stole the ball from Kobe Bryant. Rondo scored 10 of his 19 points in the final 6 minutes of the game.

The Celtics won this game from beyond the arc and being able to pass the ball. The Celtics shot 11-16 (69%) from 3-point range, after going a miserable 1-10 from beyond the arc in Game 1.

The Lakers who got away from what worked so well for them in Game 1; pounding the ball inside and playing more physical than their opponents. Instead, they reverted back to firing too many shots from 3-point land, where they went 5-22 (23%), and getting out-muscled for rebounds.

The Lakers got strong performances by their two big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Gasol finished with 25 points, 8 rebounds and a playoff career high 6 blocks. Bynum tied his career playoff high with 21 points, established a playoff career high with 7 blocks, and had 6 rebounds; while playing a career playoff high 39 minutes.

Gasol and Bynum combined for 13-20 shooting, while the rest of the team went 16-51. One of the biggest gaffes for the Lakers was their unwillingness and inability to work the ball inside more to Gasol and Bynum. In fact, Bynum and Gasol's shot blocking enabled the Lakers to set a new NBA Finals record for most blocked shots at 14, all for naught.

Another area where the Lakers had a clear-cut advantage, and failed to capitalize on it, was at the free throw line. The Lakers were 31-41 (76%), the Celtics 20-26 (77%). Fifteen more opportunities at the line than their opponent, all for naught.

Kobe Bryant, who picked up his third foul early in the second quarter (limiting his playing time to 34:18), finished with 21 points on 8-20 from the field. Bryant also grabbed 5 rebounds, had 6 assists and 4 steals.

Once again, the Lakers got poor performances from several players; most notably Ron Artest and Lamar Odom. Artest shot a horrid 1-10 from the field, including 1-6 from beyond the arc. Artest, still refuses to recognize that when his shot is not falling, he has to pass the ball off to teammates who are hot (such as Gasol and Bynum).

Odom drew three quick fouls in a span of 2:38 of the first quarter. He finished with 3 points and 5 rebounds in 14:38 of playing time. This was the second straight game in which he got into early foul trouble and was rendered ineffective. In Game 1, he had 5 points and 4 rebounds. This is the same player who struggled against the Celtics in the Finals two years ago. Odom has displayed no motivation whatsoever in the first two games. Often considered moody, if he cannot get 'up' for this series, even television's Dr. Phil would be hard-pressed to help the Lakers forward; a player counted on to give a much-needed lift from the bench.

Derek Fisher struggled in Game 2, at both ends of the court. The co-captain shot 2-8 from the field and had 6 points. More importantly, he was too slow on defense and could not contain Rondo in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers got sub-par performances from Jordan Farmar (3-7 from the field) and Shannon Brown (0-2 FG). Along with the ineffectiveness of Odom, the Lakers bench was outscored by the Celtics reserves 24-15.

In their Game 1 victory, the Lakers won the battle on the boards, 42-31; including a 12-8 advantage on the offensive boards. In their Game 2 loss, the Lakers were out-rebounded 44-39, and 13-10 on the offensive end.

Turnovers proved costly to the Lakers. In the second half, they turned the ball over 9 times to just 2 for Boston, both of which came in the third quarter. In fact, in the final quarter, the Lakers committed 5 turnovers to none for the Celtics. Boston converted those 5 Lakers miscues into 7 points, which helped Boston outscore the Lakers 31-22 in the closing quarter; after both teams had been tied 72-72 after 3 quarters.

The series resumes on Tuesday in Boston, where the Celtics are 7-2 on their home court this post-season. The Lakers, who must find a way to win at least one game at Boston, need to put all their efforts into winning Game 3. A victory in Game 2 was critical for the Lakers to maintain their home court advantage. Having lost that, they now face an uphill struggle being on the road for the next 3 games.

Head Coach Phil Jackson has won 10 NBA titles. Coach John Wooden won 10 NCAA titles during his career at UCLA. Jackson believes in letting his team figure things out by themselves on the court. Wooden made it a point at the start of every season, to show his team how to put their socks on properly, in order to avoid blisters, which would cause them to miss games. Every year, Jackson selects a particular book to give to each player, in the hope that they will read it and expand their knowledge. Most of the books go un-read.

Even the Lakers coach would be wise to learn some things from the Coach Wooden, considered the best ever at his profession. Stress the fundamentals, play solid defense, dominate the boards at both ends, execute good passes, play unselfish basketball.

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