I hate the late start times for the NBA Finals. I'm happy the NBA can maximize their earning power during the first quarter since even with an earlier start, the fourth quarter misses prime time. But all great games are decided in the fourth quarter, so for East Coast hoop fans that means staring midnight in the eye in order to watch the whole thing.
The alarm clock is unforgiving at 5:30AM, so unless you cover the game or are an NBA blogger without a day job, you have to make choices. Last night, with the C's up 18 and about six minutes left in the game, I figured it was safe to quit fighting it and let myself drift off to sleep.
I fell asleep satisfied that this Finals series was on. The Celtics held serve at home when they were set up perfectly for a let down/Kobe Bryant takes over type of game. But Kobe wasn't the icy cold killer I expected to see while nearly all of his running mates were cold, but in the form of a DQ soft serve cone.
Kobe's talent demands comparisons with Michael Jordan and with the high stakes, a Finals road game on the line, Kobe came up short. Regardless of the late rally Kobe mounted, which I assume was Jordan-esque (and will have to verify tonight when I actually see it), it just wasn't enough. You know MJ would've killed some Celtics will earlier in the game when it was still tight despite the appearance that the C's were in control.
Phil Jackson and the Lakers can complain about the officiating to make sure they turn the tables at the Staples Center for Game 3. But, the Lakers have to take some responsibility for the appearance of lopsided officiating in Game 2. Face it, the Celtics, and most notably Leon Powe, were the aggressors (although apparently that stopped in the last six minutes). The Lakers were playing soft. The aggressor almost always gets the calls. Sure there were times when Pau Gasol may have been fouled, but he was just standing there looking for the call. Meanwhile the Celtics were forcing the action. Big difference.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett should prep for some abuse on Tuesday because between Phil and the home crowd, the Lakers will come out swinging. Should be outstanding. Now, if only I could make it to the end of the game.