Posted by Sekou Smith
LOS ANGELES – Oh, the things men will do when they are desperate.
The Lakers’ reserves were missing in action during Games 4 and 5 of these NBA Finals in Boston, souls that had been lost on the cross-country flight, players that didn’t find their way to the arena in time for two of the most crucial games of the season.
But they bounced back with a vengeance here Tuesday night, helping boost the Lakers’ energy in every facet during a raucous 89-67 Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center.
We have a Game 7 because the Lakers’ bench finally decided to bow up and attack the Celtics from all angles instead of just pulling up chairs and watching the Kobe Bryant show.
Maybe they were sick of all that “Shrek and Donkey” talk from Boston, courtesy of their Celtics counterparts Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Nate Robinson (whose combined work off the bench basically won Game 4 for the Celtics).
Or maybe it was that Tuesday morning meditation session that got them going …
“That’s something that we always do,” Lamar Odom said. “To me, mediation is a form of prayer … you can just understand the power of prayer; the power of people coming together … willing themselves toward the same thing. It works for us as a team and individually as well.”
Or maybe it was the sight of their season coming to an abrupt end that stirred their emotions …
Whatever it was, the Lakers had it working overtime in Game 6. Go ahead, take another look at the video (up top). There’s not a frame on those top plays that doesn’t have a member of the Lakers’ Scramble Unit (a moniker we bestowed upon them without their blessing) featured prominently.
Odom, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and even my man Josh Powell all had their hands in this blowout win.
Not only were they aggressive on offense, at one point they had outscored the Celtics’ reserves 24-0 through three quarters and finished the game with a 25-13 edge, their defense was superb. The Lakers held the Celtics to their lowest point total ever in a Finals game.
“We have an explosive bench and they got after it tonight defensively,” Bryant said. “They got loose balls, got out in transition, made big plays, which is something that they’re extremely capable of doing.”
They all had their moments but both Farmar and Brown were spectacular (again, check the video), taking a page out of the Celtics’ handbook from earlier this series. Brown entered the game early when Derek Fisher got in foul trouble and immediately cranked up the energy and Farmar controlled the game when he was on the floor, distributing the ball and attacking whenever each opportunity presented itself.
“I just think it was about controlling the tempo and getting good shots,” Odom said. “We kept those guys off the glass. On drives, we made other guys finish at the rim. They didn’t step up too soon, where we got easy dump-offs where we could find guys sitting on the baseline. That’s it, just the flow of the game. That can switch throughout the series.”
Even on a night when Bryant was his usual brilliant self and Pau Gasol got back in touch with his dominant side (he flirted with a triple double before finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists), the bench was hard to ignore.
“Well, benches historically are much more comfortable on their home floor,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “There’s a comfort zone out there. But the energy and the direction they had was what I was pleased with. I felt like they were directed and had an idea what they wanted to get accomplished out there on the floor. That was important.”