Game, Set, Match for the Lakers? Random Thoughts from Game 4 of the NBA Finals

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher & Kobe Bryant Photo Credit: Icon SMI

By: Zachariah Blott

A look into the mind of ETB contributor Zach Blott as Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals unfolded…

– Backup Magic center Marcin Gortat had two dunks in the first half, quite possibly tying Dwight Howard’s output in the series through the first 3.5 games.

Kobe Bryant put Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus into foul trouble in the first half with pump fakes and quick drives to the paint. In comes J.J. Redick: Laker fans are licking their lips as the feeding frenzy should get going, and… Kobe refuses to drive and settles for fadeaway jumpers. WTF?

Phil Jackson has a bit of a reputation as a genius when it comes to saying bad things about refs without the comments being quite bad enough to warrant a fine. How will the league react to his end-of-the-first-quarter camera time where he questioned what the officials were watching and pointed out—correctly—that they made some “bogus calls”?

Hedo Turkoglu’s recent playoff performance on the offensive end is starting to resemble Dirk Nowitzki. Slow, effective drives, spot-up jumpers dropping with regularity, the occasional triple. Turk is the new Dirk.

– Did anyone else notice that Phil Jackson looked a foot taller than everyone else on the Laker bench when they showed their sideline during the 2nd quarter? Was he in a booster seat? Sitting in a zen-like, crossed-legs position?

– Orlando should trademark the turnover.

– How was Pietrus not T’d up when he finger-wagged the official for calling a foul on him? The referee held up his index finger and appeared to say something along the lines of “one more word and you’re getting a technical,” and that was the end of it. Is Mickael the new Phil?

Derek Fisher played very smart on both ends of the floor (and I wrote that comment down for myself in the first half).

– While I’m on this so-and-so-is-the-new-so-and-so kick, Redick’s first half is making him look like the new Luke Walton. He’s playing passable defense, making good passes, and making the kind of scrappy plays you want from a bench player.

– Regardless of the halftime feature, Dwight Howard is not the new Bill Russell. Yes, they’re both defensive players, but Howard blocks shots into the fifth row, while Russell tipped them to himself to start Celtic fast breaks. The only big man today to resemble Russell’s combination of defensive intensity, team leadership, and all-around smarts at the expensive of his own stats is Kevin Garnett.

More from the mind of Blott during Game 4 after the break…

Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic Photo Credit: Icon SMI

– The first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter are pretty easy to summarize: the Lakers hit their shots, particularly off turnovers. The Magic turned the ball over or just missed their shots. The teams were playing the same styles as they did in the first half, but LA converted and Orlando did not.

The announcers called the recently, uh, “larger” Chris Tucker a “huge basketball fan.” Was this funny to anyone else?

– Near the end of the 3rd quarter, Rashard Lewis made his annual hustle play on defense and knocked the ball out of Fisher’s hands from behind to stop a fast break.

Adam Morrison in a suit looks like a deadbeat dad trying to persuade a judge to drop the restraining order his ex-wife has against him so that he can maybe see his kids on the weekends.

– Why in the hell is Stan Van Gundy (check out his wikipedia picture, by the way) leaving Jameer Nelson in the entire 4th and overtime? He’s playing like the pre-playoffs Rafer Alston: good play, bad play, repeat. In the first half, Van Gundy found a very good mix of time for Alston and Nelson, playing them 17 minutes and 7 minutes, respectively. Why he’s keeping in the not-100% guy in for all of these crucial minute is ludicrous.

Kobe is strong as hell. In the first half, he ripped the ball out of Howard’s hands, prompting a foul from a pissed-off Superman. Then he completely pulls Howard to the floor with 11.1 seconds left so that he can’t get an open dunk. This feat of strength turns out to be a game winner, as Howard klunks both free throws, keeping the Lakers within one basket.

Fisher and Trevor Ariza are hustle, smart, and clutch as hell. They did everything the Lakers needed in the last 17 minutes to get this win. I don’t know who should end up with the official title of Player of the Game, but I’d be okay with these two sharing it. My initial thought is Howard because he had 16-21-9 in an NBA Finals game, but he also missed 8 foul shots and had 7 turnovers.

Zachariah Blott is an English teacher in Portland, not an Amish Charles Dickens character.


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