Lakers-Celtics Game 5

» June 16, 2008 10:45 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

The Los Angeles Lakers raced out to 17-point 1st quarter lead and withstood another Celtics comeback for a 103-98 victory last night.

Kobe Bryant led the way for the Lakers. Bryant scored 25 points on 4-of-9 from the 3-point line. All four of Kobe’s triples came in the opening period.

For the first time in this series, the Lakers got a balanced effort from their starting lineup.

Derek Fisher struggled from the field (3-of-10, 1-of-5 from the 3-point line) but remained aggressive and went to the line 11 times (8-of-11). Fisher scored 15 points in 35 minutes of action.

Pau Gasol had his best game of the Finals. Gasol scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and had 6 assists.

But the difference between Game’s 4 and 5 was Lamar Odom. Odom scored 20 points on 8-of-10 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds. Lamar was solid statistically in Game 4 but disappeared down the stretch. Odom scored 5 points in the 4th quarter of Game 5, including a huge 3-pointer with 11:04 remaining that extended Los Angeles’ lead from 9 to 12.

Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 38 points on 10-of-22 from the field and 16-of-19 from the free throw line.

Thanks to a less than stellar defensive effort from Luke Walton (5 fouls in 10 minutes of playing time), the Celtics were in the bonus for much of the second half. Boston shot 15 free throws in the 4th quarter (12-of-15).

Coach Phil Jackson made several questionable rotation decisions in Game 5.

Chris Mihm, who hadn’t received a minute of playing time in the playoffs, entered the game to start the 2nd quarter and the Celtics cut what was a 19-point lead to 11 by the time Bryant checked in for Mihm at the 9:18 mark of the second period. Mihm committed 2 fouls, turned the ball over once, and missed a 13-foot jumpshot in 2:46 seconds of inaction.

Trevor Ariza, who scored 6 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and had a blocked shot in 8 minutes of Game 4 played only 2 minutes in Game 5.

Paul Pierce has absolutely TORCHED Vladimir Radmonovic and Luke Walton in this series. Playing Radmonovic is understandable since Vladi is capable of stretching the defense with his outside shooting.

But Walton has given LA absolutely nothing in the NBA Finals. Luke hasn’t been able to defend anyone and he’s shooting just 25% from the field.

I don’t understand why the Zenmaster refused to go back to Ariza after a very productive Game 4.

Bench production is LA’s #1 concern heading back to Boston. The Lakers reserves were outscored 28-17 in Game 5 but LA’s starting unit started made up for the deficit.

In Los Angeles’ Game 3 win, Sasha Vujacic stepped up with 20 points on 7-of-10 from the field. In the Lakers game 5 victory, Jordan Farmar scored 11 points on 5-of-9 from the field.

For the Lakers to win Game 6 and give them a chance to extend the series to the anything-can-happen Game 7, someone on LA’s bench will need to step up in Beantown.

Center Kendrick Perkins is doubtful for Game 6 so it’s imperative that Los Angeles establish their ‘paint game’ in Boston.

That means going back to what has worked the entire series.

Boston has done a fantastic job of disrupting the triangle. But the Lakers have had success running the high pick-and-roll with Bryant and Gasol. They’ve been at their most dangerous when Kobe hits Odom on the elbow after turning the corner on the hedging defender.

From Charley Rosen of Foxsports:

“Early in the series, the Lakers had periodic success with either Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom rolling to the rim after setting the high screen — but the Celtics made suitable adjustments. In Game 4, however, the Lakers added a new wrinkle: The screener still cut to the basket, but instead of the pass to him coming from the ballhandler, an intermediary was added. If Gasol, say, was the screener/roller, then Odom would move up from the strongside baseline to the elbow-extended, catch the first pass, and then hit the cutting Gasol.”

The Lakers went to this play several times in Game 5 and were successful on each attempt.

It needs to become the staple of their offense from here on out.

The Lakers scored over 100 points for the first time in Game 5.

The pressure is on the Celtics now.

Boston doesn’t want to see Fisher, Bryant, and Phil Jackson in a Game 7 for all the marbles.


4 Responses to “Lakers-Celtics Game 5”

  1. King_Kaun Says:

    oh yeah! Intense!! I hope Garnett finally comes to play! At least Paul Pierce is bringing his “A” game!

  2. Basketballogy Says:

    Chris Mihm was the difference maker for the Lakers in game 5 of the 2008 NBA Playoffs. I realize this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but think about it.

    In game 4, the Lakers had a 21 point 1st quarter lead, but ended up losing the game.

    In game 5, the Lakers had just a 17 point 1st quarter lead, (so the Celtics had them just where they wanted them), until Phil Jackson pulled out his secret weapon: Chris Mihm.

    Mihm had 0 minutes in game 4 and the Lakers lost. Mihm had 2:46 in game 5, and the Lakers won.

    Obviously, Chris Mihm was the difference!

    But seriously folks, I actually do think Chris Mihm was the difference maker — well, not Chris Mihm per se, but the fact that Phil Jackson had the courage to play Mihm, particularly after the squall of criticism Jackson weathered for his game 4 player substitutions, made the difference in the Lakers’ game 5 win.

    To me, this proves that Phil Jackson still has the courage, creativity and brilliance it takes to win. I am honestly impressed, and you should be too.

    The Mihm experiment obviously failed; he had 0 points, 0 rebounds, 2 fouls and 1 turnover in 2:46.

    But then again, Ronny Turiaf actually has more fouls than points so far in the NBA Finals, thus putting a very good free throw shooting team on the line. And in 50+ minutes over 5 games, Turiaf has grabbed whopping total of 3 measly rebounds. He’s not exactly earning his minutes, is he? For comparison’s sake, backup point guard Jordan Farmar has 10 rebounds so far this series, more than three times the total of the Lakers backup center.

    Seriously, with production like that from Turiaf, and with DJ Mbenga in street clothes, Phil Jackson would have been an imbecile not to give Chris Mihm a try.

    Chris Mihm was once one of the better centers in the league, but thanks to injuries Mihm has basically not played basketball in 2 years.

    It wasn’t like Phil put Mihm in during a critical point of the game. Jackson experimented with Mihm early in the game and when the Lakers had a 17 point lead.

    So, given Turiaf has been MIA, and Mbenga was unavailable, that it was early in the game and the Lakers had a 17 point lead, didn’t it make sense to give Mihm a try? And the fact that playing Mihm surprised everyone, that Phil Jackson was the only person to see that this substitution made sense, doesn’t that make Jackson brilliant?

    Had Mihm played well, Phil might have even been able to play him again in the second half and move Pau Gasol to power forward, Lamar Odom to small forward, and play Kobe Bryant with whichever other guard is playing well. Alas, Mihm looked terrified out there and played terribly.

    The same courage and creativity it takes to give Mihm a try, is the courage and creativity it took for Jackson to bench Michael Jordan in game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals, with the Bulls down big against the Trailblazers, and play long forgotten reserve, Bobby Hansen.

    And this is the same courage and creativity it took to play Jordan Farmar (with Fisher, Bryant, Odom and Gasol) at crunch time of an elimination game. Farmar hadn’t been playing well in the playoffs, but in game 5, Farmar was effective at blowing by Sam Cassell and Eddie House to get to the rim and finish with a layup, or by assisting a teammate to easily score.

    Without that courage and creativity, and with Vujacic having a bad game, Phil would have had to go with Radmanovic at crunch time. Who feels good about THAT decision?

    Oh wait, I hear you: what about Trevor Ariza?

    After game 4, I was one of the many clamoring for Ariza to get more minutes in game 5, but when I saw Ariza on the floor in game 5, I got worried. Ariza passed on totally open shots, literally. Trevor Ariza earned a seat on the bench by failing to shoot when open. The Celtics defense is bad enough 5 on 5, but if the Celtics are able to guard the remaining Lakers 5 on 4, the Lakers are dead.

    Lest I give Phil Jackson too much credit for Farmar’s success, I have to mention Kobe Bryant as well.

    Remember when Farmar launched an airball 3 pointer? The very next play, Kobe Bryant passed the ball to Farmar at the arc, and Farmar knocked down the 3-pointer. Kobe Bryant unimpeachably manifested confidence in Farmar, even when he had a good reason not to. I’m sure that built Jordan Farmar’s confidence, and helped him to play better the rest of the game.

    Kobe Bryant, for those too jaded to see it, really does make his teammates better.

    Of course, Chris Mihm wasn’t really the difference in game 5, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant were.

    I just thought I’d use Chris Mihm to point out to those whose faith in Phil Jackson might be wavering how brilliant Phil Jackson really is, so fear not, and be believing.

    The Zen Master is still on his game.

  3. Basketballogy Says:

    About the 3 way screen and roll Charlie Rosen mentioned.

    I don’t know about making it “the staple of their offense from here on out.”

    Celtics Assistant Coach Tom Thibedeau may be the best defensive coach in basketball. If Charlie Rosen noticed this play, what are the odds that Tom didn’t? If the Lakers were successful with it “on each attempt” during game 5, you can bet that the Celtics will be ready for it in game 6, therefore you most decidedly do NOT want this to be your staple.

    You may want it as an oft used option, but hopefully the Lakers’ coaching staff have already worked out the next offensive tactic, and they’ll stay a step ahead and pull that out come game time.

  4. Hoffman Says:

    Basketballogy,

    The Lakers have gone to the play sporadically throughout the series. Not just in Game 5. It worked several times in Game 4 too.

    Why not go back to the play until the Celtics adjust to it?

    Similar to how the Celtics kept going to the Pierce/Garnett pick-and-roll in Game 5.

    It’s the time of play that really can’t be taken away entirely. If the Celtics take one aspect of it away — let’s say the Gasol roll to the basket — then Lamar has room to penetrate to the basket or shoot a wide-open jumper.

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