I can see Bill Simmons bursting through the back door of his house, running into his backyard in a rage, throwing his arms towards the sky and yelling, “FISHERRRRRRRR!!!!!”
Lakers 110, Boston 109 was also the best NBA game of the season, even though it was hardly the prettiest. Of course, Celtics fans might not share the view that tonight’s contest was a classic. That’s due to Derek Fisher, who always seems to be in the middle of some sort of officiating nonsense at the end of every close game the Lakers have played in the past five years. The Lakers have needed a veteran pest ever since the departures of Robert Horry and Rick Fox, now Fisher is that man.
Tonight he committed a horrendous-looking foul when the Lakers had one to give at the end of overtime, pretending to get tripped by Paul Pierce and diving right into the legs of Rajon Rondo. It ended up being a great foul, because it gave the Celtics only three seconds on the games’s final play to let Ray Allen attempt to break free from Fisher’s right arm, which was stuck obnoxiously close to Allen’s armpit.
Fisher left Allen alone just before he went up to attempt a game-winning three (an odd play since the Celtics were down by only one, but Allen’s done it before and KG had already fouled out), and Allen seemed surprised not only to have failed to keep contact with Fisher while shooting, but that he was about 28 feet away from the basket and falling away. Even if Pau Gasol hadn’t blocked the shot it would have been an airball.
How does Fisher do it? As a Warrior he was fairly useless, as a Jazz he pretty much shot three’s and not much else. On the Lakers, Fisher hits jumpers off inbounds plays with 0.4 seconds left, gets tangled up with the opposition, and almost always gets the call.
Simmons railed against the referees after the Lakers beat the Celtics at Staples on Christmas Day, and he surely will again sometime in the next couple weeks.
Unfortunately for Boston, they’re now a victim of their own reputation. The team who leads the NBA in technical fouls with 67 also leads the league in trash-talking and coach-whining (lately Doc Rivers has made Mike D’Antoni look like Tony Dungy), and has taken the once-cute habit of blocking all shots after the whistle to an extreme. After every foul either Kevin Garnett either blocks a jumper or Kendrick Perkins bludgeons the forearms of whoever has the ball. That, along with Rajon Rondo’s slap-happy routine isn’t just false hustle, it puts the other team in the position of having to either stand up to the Celtics by fighting back or risk looking intimidated and physically dominated.
The Lakers only made 17-of-29 free throws, Kobe and Fisher combined to shoot 15-of-42 from the floor, and Trevor Ariza looked like a rookie. The Lakers’ frontcourt were the saviors tonight, as Gasol and Lamar Odom combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds. More importantly, they (especially Odom) jawed right back at KG and showed they wouldn’t be intimidated, at least not this time.
The Lakers have lost Bynum, but the Celtics are two contributors short of where they were last season without James Posey and P.J. Brown, personnel losses that have left the Celtics a talented but flawed team — one that doesn’t seem comfortable resting on their skills but would rather embellish their own machismo. The result tonight was an overtime period that should have gone the Celtics’ way — not only was the game was in Boston, but the Lakers struggled to win a surprisingly difficult game against Toronto last night — but went to the Lakers even with Bryant too tired to do anything beyond lazily force up three’s over Paul Pierce (who luckily didn’t require a wheelchair to get back to the locker room…sorry, had to say it once).
The Celtics won’t say getting swept 2-0 in their all-too-short season series against the Lakers means anything, and it might not. After all, the Celtics might have Stephon Marbury for their playoff run. Wait, what am I talking about? The Lakers showed they can beat Boston with or without Bynum, whether or not Kobe plays an inspired game, thanks to a deeper squad and the best friend to referees everywhere, Derek Fisher.
What? No Ben Affleck?!?!
–The list of celebrities present at tonight’s game was Kathy Griffin-esque. The Lakers may have Jack, Tobey and Denzel, but check out who TNT was able to unearth at the TD WaterGarden: Bill Belichick, Michael Bivins and Chris Evans! What, you don’t know who Chris Evans is? Don’t you know he’s starring in the upcoming motion picture “Push?” You obviously need to watch more Turner.
–With Manny gone, Eddie House officially owns Boston’s baggiest uniform. When House runs back after making a three he looks like Livan Hernandez running out a double.
–As many times the Celtics and Lakers argued tonight (and there were many; at least 3 double-technicals were handed out), when KG fouled out he and Kobe did the whole “shaking hands and slapping each other’s shorts at the same time” thing. That’s when I thought, “Oh yeah, both of these guys makes over $20 million.”
–Jordan Farmar matches up so much better against Boston than Fisher, but Fisher proved once again why Phil Jackson always depends on him at the end of games. No way Farmar would get half the calls Fisher does in the last 90 seconds of an NBA game. Farmar is a much better defender against Rondo and has become a far superior finisher near the rim, but until Fisher’s knees give out he’ll still finish games against the Celtics.
–If Don Nelson was saddled with Glen Davis, Big Baby would have gotten the Richard Hendrix treatment. On a similar note, Patrick “The Notorious P.O.B.” Bryant had another DNP-Coach’s Decision.
–Sasha Vujacic shot 1-for-3 tonight, and is shooting 38.4% for the year. He’s really good at reaching in, though.
–As bad as Ray Allen was in the first half, he was the Celtics’ best player by far in the second half and overtime. He really did deserve to be chosen as Jameer Nelson’s injury-alternate in the All-Star Game over Mo Williams.
–Not quite sure why the Lakers insist on double-teaming Garnett and Perkins all the time when Gasol and/or Odom are right there in front of either player. Garnett’s offensive game at this point is taking open 16-foot jumpers and scoring off offensive rebounds. Perkins only scores off offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Eddie House is allowed to hit 4 three-pointers and score 16 points in 20 minutes off the bench, even though he and Big Baby sometimes switch uniforms just to see if anyone will notice.
–There was a sign one of the Boston fans was holding that read, “KOBE MVP? NOT IN THIS GARDEN”. It’s true: New York, you have some explaining to do. Applauding a truly great athletic feat by an opponent is classy. Chanting MVP-MVP-MVP during two home games in a row is indefensible, regardless of how many L.A. transplants live in your town or how comfortable you want the star free agent of 2010 to feel whenever he visits Gotham City with a brand new pair of NY-inspired Nikes. By the way, the new Taxicab LeBrons are either hideously ugly or pretty damn sick-looking. I can’t decide.