June 11, 2008

Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic Lift Lakers over Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers finally won a game in the 2008 NBA Finals over long-time rival Boston Celtics. In a very defense-oriented game, only two Lakers scored over 20 points in the 87-81 win.

Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vjuacic.

Yes, that Sasha Vujacic. Not Pau Gasol; not Lamar Odom and definitely not Derek Fisher. It's "The Machine", baby!

Bryant scored a game high 36 points and Vujacic scored 20, with key three-pointers down the stretch. While everyone else in the Lakers roster s(t)unk, the two Lakers made a series out of the Finals that everyone dreamed of. Being down 2-0 after the Boston games, the Finals was fast becoming a nightmare for Lakers fans. But thanks to "The Black Mamba" and "The Machine," there's hope to a 6-game series for the Lakers.

I pointed out in my last blog post that the Lakers needed to do three things, and based on Game 3's outcome, they succeeded in doing those three to a certain extent:
  1. The Lakers got to the line - 34 free throw attempts ain't pretty bad (Boston had 22 free throw attempts).
  2. The Lakers played out of character - I kinda wanted the Lakers to stick to what worked for them, but they went toe-to-toe with the Celtics with their gritty brand of basketball.
  3. The Lakers had a sense of urgency - Yes, I thought the Lakers were out of it in the third when the Celtics mounted a comeback, but they didn't take things for granted in the fourth. The last two minutes was not exactly pretty basketball, but the Lakers had enough to win it.
What should the Lakers do in Game 4 to tie the series? Here's my take:
  1. The Bench Mob must show up - Thanks to Vujacic, the Bench Mob was represented but contributions from Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton is needed to win confortably over the Celtics.
  2. Use the 3's Wisely - With good long-range shooting, the spacing on the floor for the Lakers improve dramatically. Fisher, Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic should not shoot in bulk but should look for good looks often.
  3. Defend! - Yeah, this sounds much of a cliche, but the Lakers succeeded in giving the Celtics a hard time shooting the ball in Game 3.We should see more contested shots, but also avoid making useless fouls.
Those three points should ensure a 2-2 series by the time Game 5 begins.

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