Cinderella Kobe Bryant Undone by His Ugly Laker Sisters

Boston vs. Los Angeles: Game 5 Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, works against the defense of Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, left, during the second quarter in Game 5 of the NBA finals, June 13, 2010, in Boston. NBA Conference Finals
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, works against the defense of Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen.
Winslow Townson

As Game 5 of the NBA Finals wound to its denouement, Lakers' coach Phil Jackson offered his players an encouraging reminder.

He told them of one of the Celtics' most endearing characteristics.

"They know how to lose," he said during a timeout.

He was referring to the Celtics' numerous fourth quarter belly flops during the regular season.

Sunday, the Celtics did, indeed, seem keen to unburden themselves from the onerous experience of traveling to Los Angeles with a 3-2 lead.

But the more the they began to miss shots in the fourth quarter, the more the Lakers tugged at their forelocks and insisted that, please, gentlemen, let this be your game, not ours.

The Lakers were only in the game at all because of Kobe Bryant's 38 points.

He scored the first 19 Laker points of the third quarter. He scored 23 in a row from 4.23 left in the second quarter until 2.16 remaining in the third.

He looked around him and no one was driving. His was a team of passengers prepared to go only as far as Bryant took them.

Ron Artest lumbered around for most of the game as if someone should have taken away his chamomile.

His box score was purely digital: 2 shots made, 1 free throw, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover. He might as well have sat on the bench and played NBA 2K10 on his laptop.

So many Lakers were anonymous that one felt sympathy with Lamar Odom when the Celtics fans identified him as the husband of Khloe Kardashian, she of reality TV show fame.

As Odom shot free throws, the fans shouted: 'Ug-ly sis-ter" - a passionately ignorant critique of Khloe's pulchritude when compared with her slightly more famous kin, Kim.

Yet it was perhaps Bryant who fought his way around the court as if believing that all the ugly sisters were, indeed, all his.

Derek Fisher seemed more concerned with simulation than stimulation. He flopped and provoked, as if believing that his role was to annoy the Celtics into some kind of submission. The effect was minimal.

Andrew Bynum, who had claimed his knee was "100 percent", seemed, in fact, to be in possession of a knee that was 100 percent of 50 percent.

Pau Gasol, who took only 12 shots, offered a night that suggested his agent had just informed him that his starring role had been left on the cutting room floor.

Take away Kobe, and the Lakers missed 33 of 51 shots, a respectable average in baseball, but not, perhaps, in the NBA finals.

So no matter how many times Boston tried to fritter away a lead that at one point reached thirteen, the Lakers ensured that the ball would be returned as if it were on a ridiculously short bungee cord.

The Celtics fans, who, according to secondary ticket market site, were prepared to pay significantly higher prices for home tickets than Lakers fans, offered another charming expression of just how much they feel this game was five against one.

One of their number tried to hit Bryant with a missile, just over a minute from the end.

Even though it barely missed, Bryant seemed unfazed.

Yet one wonders just how close the Lakers might feel to catastrophe in front of their own fans, some of whom have been involved in their own proportionate share of stinkers.

Can they rely on Bynum, who played 31 minutes of game 5, but whose 6 points and 1 rebound suggested he really wasn't all there?

Will some tactical readjustment--for example, preventing Artest from ever shooting again-- return Gasol to the fore?

Or does the fact that Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett combined for 75 of the Celtics 92 points mean that the Celtics have too many options, with too much confidence, and far too much motivation?

For those who believe in statistics, 19 of the 25 NBA finals that have been tied at 2-2 have been won by the team that triumphed in Game 5.

For those who merely believe their eyes, the Celtics seem to have suddenly forgotten how to lose and the Lakers forgotten how to win.

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.