I know it’ll be said, and you all know it’ll be said – that the Lakers won this game because the Celtics had a depleted roster. Well to Doc Rivers and his “Lakers never beat us when…” philosophy, I say, cancel my subscription, I’m done with your issues. The Lakers won, not because Boston didn’t have enough players, but because they a) played to their strengths – length and Kobe Bryant b) played defense and c) remained poised until the very end.
Fans, analysts and even the Lakers themselves have gone through the wringer this season for the inability of the defending champions to secure a win against a title contender. All of us watching have grown anxious waiting for the dominant Lakers; the hungry Lakers; the fired up for every game Lakers to show up and run over every team they met. Then Kobe Bryant came on the radio this week and said that, from the beginning, the one word he’d used to signify the 2010-2011 season was patient.
In the third game of their longest road trip of the year, in the arena filled with their biggest haters in the nation, on the night a beloved home team hero would be regaled for making record book history, the Lakers played to victory because they found their focus and maintained that which their fearless leader knew all along they would need – patience.
In their last meeting with Boston at Staples Center, the Lakers were anything but. They forced shots late into each 24 seconds, failed to run any offense, defended haphazardly and therefore ineffectively, their seven-footers played timidly and Kobe Bryant was forced to do too much, too late. Maybe it was the trade talks that got to Andrew Bynum. Maybe it was that “soft” label arising to haunt Pau Gasol. Whatever it was that prompted the Lakers big men to up their game from the last meeting (as there was ample room to rise up from their stinker in January), it was welcomed.