Lakers Bench Press Celtics to Bring on Game 7

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts against the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA finals Thursday, June 3, 2010, in Los Angeles. Bryant scored 30 points in the Lakers 102-89 win. NBA Conference Finals AP Photo/Chris Carlson

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant kept the Celtics from taking the trophy in Game 6.
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

It's one of those intractable questions.

You know, like "Why does Steve Carrell make so many movies?"

In the case of Tuesday's Game 6 of the NBA Finals, in which the Los Angeles Lakers decimated the Boston Celtics 89-67, the question was "How is it that players whose very existence during Game 5 was questionable suddenly emerge to squeeze the throat of Game 6?"

It was perfectly reasonable to believe after Game 5 that the Lakers had lost their way.

Kobe Bryant was said Sunday to have expressed his disapproval of every one of his teammates even before the locker room at Boston TD Garden had closed.

He wondered if any one of them would ever bother to support his indisputable genius. Was he really supposed to be the Lakers' General Custer?

Whatever it was, the Lakers came out for Game 6 as if large, unpleasant people were stationed outside each of their houses, ready to torch them to the ground.

Ron Artest suddenly rediscovered the art of making shots. Six of them.

And, without the effective presence of Andrew Bynum, whose knee must surely have some of the constituents of Spaghetti Bolognese, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic plundered points as if they had suddenly taken Viking citizenship.

These four accounted for 25 of Los Angeles' 89 points. At one stage, they were outscoring the Celtics bench 24-0.

Could it be that the Lakers bench is actually full of divas? Could it be that these players refuse to be considered as extras?

Could it be that they think of themselves as stars who can't be expected to perform in backwoods theatrical venues such as Boston?

Could it be that they refuse to perform unless Diane Lane is looking into their eyes and Jack Nicholson might be?

Oh, and there was a little more incentive, perhaps, with the presence of the First Lady in a luxury box.

How could the Celtics bench players feel equally motivated when they looked around and the most famous Celtics fan in their view was Dane Cook?

While the Lakers bench thrived, the Celtics bench shot blanks.

This was a game in which Lamar Odom enjoyed 8 points, 10 rebounds and no unpleasant chants. 

This was a game in which Shannon Brown executed a spectacular dunk.

The same Shannon Brown whom you wouldn't be able to recognize at a convention of all NBA players called Brown.

"Our better offense stimulated our better defense," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the game.

When the Lakers wheel out Josh Powell--THE Josh Powell-- in the first half, you know the game is already won.

When the Celtics wheel out Shelden Williams in the first half--THE Shelden Williams-- you know the game has voluntarily paddled down the Swanee River, only to be seen again in highlights shows.

To underline that idea, Williams managed to miss a dunk and fail to score a point. He did, however, have two turnovers.

Just when you believed that Shrek and the Donkey, aka Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, were the true power behind the Celtics' throne, both joined the witness protection program.

Davis didn't even have a point. He was not alone in failing to make it big in Hollywood, however. Rasheed Wallace missed all of his seven shots. The Celtics shot 33 percent as a team, with only Ray Allen mustering a 50-percent shooting average.

How does a team come back from the second-worst performance in NBA Finals history to somehow have a chance of winning Game 7 on the road?

The standard idea is that the difference will be measured not in talent, but in desire.

The standard idea is that a series has momentum and the pendulum has swung towards the Lakers.

The standard idea is that it depends on how the referees decide to call the game.

But there is no reason that Paul Pierce can't drive the Celtics to victory, supported by Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, each of whom was anonymous in Game 6.

There is no reason that Kobe Bryant can't have a 50-point game and will the remaining Lakers to follow his example.

There is no reason that Ron Artest can't dye his hair pink, hum hymns as he shoots free throws and start a fight with Dane Cook.

Thursday is just one day. Game 7 is just one game.

Some will bring it. Some will leave it on the bench. And some won't even leave the bench.

That's all there is to it.


Chris Matyszczyk is an award-winning creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing, and an avid sports fan. He is also the author of the popular CNET blog Technically Incorrect.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.

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