An extremely unusual night, thanks to the latest allegations from Tim Donaghy's attorney. Most of the media here is not even worried about the game. Nevertheless, there is a huge game to be played, and I am once again joined by Dr. Jack Ramsay, David Thorpe, and Mike Moreau. Looking forward to a special game.
HENRY ABBOTT: Welcome!
HENRY ABBOTT: OK, Just finished the national anthem, and still there are all kinds of empty seats for this famously late-arriving crowd. Unbelievable.Now, before we start, let's talk about the latest allegations from Tim Donaghy's attorney. (The story is on ESPN.com and elsewhere.) I'm sure it will be written about ad infinitum. But my thought is that we are past a point when blanket denials from the NBA will suffice. The allegations are specific, and if the NBA cares what fans think, the denials should be too.
MIKE MOREAU: The fans deserve the truth, and are too smart to buy spin on this one.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Lakers have played without enough intensity in this series. I'm anxious to see how they start the game. They need to take it to the basket more than they did. Through Gasol in post, Kobe, or Derek Fisher penetrating. They need to defend aggressively, rebound, and play an all-around top-level game.The Celtics only need to play the way they played in Boston. They have had great ball movement, with 31 assists in Game 2, which is an extremely high number. They are playing excellent basketball. They struggled on road earlier in the playoffs. So let's see how they come out to start this one.
DAVID THORPE: In light of game 2, this story has legs that won't be stopped easily.
DAVID THORPE: Soft and soft.
MIKE MOREAU: Lakers have been good in the first few minutes of each game. Doesn't mean much -- marathon not a sprint.
DAVID THORPE: Celts up strong. Bad news for LA.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The Celtics are finding the open man right away.
MIKE MOREAU: Lamar needs that right hand, Coach Thorpe!
HENRY ABBOTT: The referees tonight are Joey Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, and Mark Wunderlich. I don't know if the crowd here knows the Donaghy news, but with or without that a tough night to be a referee. Fans are already on them in big numbers.
DAVID THORPE: That was a tough finish by Kobe.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: That's what Kobe Bryant needs to do .... The Lakers have been determined to get to the hoop, but the Boston defense has been excellent around the basket for the most part.
MIKE MOREAU: Pierce can't expect to get that call after Game 2.
DAVID THORPE: Now if LO c ould do the same...
HENRY ABBOTT: Jitters? The Lakers are shooting 22%. The Celtics are at 17%.
DAVID THORPE: LA has intensity early, but can it continue? It's a long game.
MIKE MOREAU: That's the foul the Celtics have to stay away from.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe's defending Rondo this game, which is a switch. That puts less pressure on Kobe defending. Rondo only took four shots last tim. And now Derek Fisher is on Ray Allen. This is a good start for the Lakers.
MIKE MOREAU: Score one for the Zen Master with the Kobe on Rondo move.
DAVID THORPE: And the foul LA needs Boston to commit.
DAVID THORPE: Ray Allen needs to go to work on D Fish. Or Rondo needs to buy a jumpshot.
MIKE MOREAU: Doc needs to put Kobe in the high ballscreen action with Rondo and any of the three scorers
MIKE MOREAU: Put Kobe in the meat grinder.
DAVID THORPE: Kobe loves to roam on d. Rondo needs to work the paint.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: I'm surprised that Phil Jackson is leaving Radmanovic in. He usually takes players out with two fouls in the first quarter. Thought we'd see Sasha Vujacic, or Luke Walton.
MIKE MOREAU: Scouting Report: Don't crowd Kobe on the perimeter. Bad mistake by Allen.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe Bryant has not settled for the jumper yet. The jumpers he has taken have been off the dribble. And he just shot his eighth free throw.
HENRY ABBOTT: Big make by Rondo, who is now two out of three. Kobe has been daring him to shoot that.
DAVID THORPE: LA not disciplined enough on d.
DAVID THORPE: LA may trade Bynum for a big time 3 man and win 2 titles.
DAVID THORPE: Can you say sign and trade Bynum for Deng?
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Rondo six points and three assists early, taking advantage of Kobe playing off of him. He had 16 assists last time.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The Lakers, it would appear, are doing everything they need to do. Kobe is far more aggressive than he has been. Yet the Celtics are hanging around. The Lakers need to get Pau involved more.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar need to play well. I would expect they will, playing at home.
MIKE MOREAU: Show Horse vs. Plow Horse time...
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Great defense by Vujacic.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Great defense by Vujacic.
DAVID THORPE: LA's spacing is bad. Too spread out sometimes, too cramped other times.
MIKE MOREAU: Celtics are standing around - time to go to KG in the post.
MIKE MOREAU: Or P.J. Brown!
DAVID THORPE: Sam changing boxes, Coach Moreau!
DAVID THORPE: Sasha got fouled, but still went up soft.
MIKE MOREAU: Sam has done that a few times in his career!
DR. JACK RAMSAY: I suspect the Celtics will be trying to post Sam Cassell up against Jordan Farmar.
DAVID THORPE: I don't like LA's start. Not nearly as physical as they need to be. Their confusing handsy fouls on the perimeter with physical play.
DAVID THORPE: LA struggling hedging and recovering on ballscreens. Need to clean that up.
MIKE MOREAU: What's going on out here? Nothing but grab, grab, grab - nobody tackling anybody! Vince Lombardi
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Boston has more rebounds. Points off turnovers are even. Shooting percentages are pretty close. Boston's bench has nine points, Lakers reserves have no field goals, and just three Vujacic free throws. This is usually where Phil sits Kobe. I don't think he can afford to do it. This is the point where in Game 2 ran off ten straight points against the Laker bench.
DR. JACK RAMSAY:&
nbsp;Pau Gasol has only taken two shots, and missed them both. He needs more touches.It's an even game, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are a combined 0-9 from the field.
MIKE MOREAU: The Lakers should be very concerned. They needed a double digit lead with the crowd in a frenzy.
MIKE MOREAU: More excuse me fouls from Odom.
MIKE MOREAU: Will Kobe have more points or minutes tonight?
DAVID THORPE: Phil Jackson will be seeing soft Luke Walton plays in his nightmares for years.
HENRY ABBOTT: The Lakers are playing Kobe, while the Celtics are resting KG and Paul Pierce. Lakers time to shine.
MIKE MOREAU: There's the late pass of the post feed -- our morning lesson, Coach Thorpe!
DR. JACK RAMSAY: That play that led to a Vujacic 3 was the best ball movement LA has had all series.
DAVID THORPE: Farmar to the rescue.
DAVID THORPE: I saw Luke walton talking to the Lakers girls during that exchange!
DAVID THORPE: Please put Walton out of his misery!!
DAVID THORPE: Use the force, Luke.
MIKE MOREAU: Not a real difficult formula for Boston on offense - KG fouled inside and Allen hitting the three.
DAVID THORPE: Poor lock and trail by Sasha.
DAVID THORPE: Kobe is amazing.
HENRY ABBOTT: Fair to say this crowd was disappointed not to get a replay of the P.J. Brown vs. Jordan Farmar mini-scrap.
DAVID THORPE: Farmar has been Robin to Kobe's Batman thus far.
HENRY ABBOTT: When was the last time Luke Walton scored over somebody in the paint? Seems like it has been miss miss miss miss.
DAVID THORPE: Odom is Batgirl.
DAVID THORPE: Walton is the Riddler. Not the Jim Carrey version, but the TV one.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe Bryant has had no rest. He is the only player to have played all 18 minutes so far. He's getting a rest during this timeout. Could sit for a couple of minutes now, and then come back for the last three minutes or so.
MIKE MOREAU: Is the Brown-Farmar slow dance in the backcourt the best we are going to get in the first half? C'mon!
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The Celtics are getting more rebounds. They have five or six blocks. They lead second-chance points. But the Lakers are attacking, so good start for them.
DAVID THORPE: PP time.
HENRY ABBOTT: Paul Pierce had Luke Walton on him. Seems like a matchup he could win, but they went to KG -- who needs to warm up, he's 1-9.
DAVID THORPE: Yep.
HENRY ABBOTT: Interesting to me that as the Lakers get much more aggressive, Gasol fades from view.
HENRY ABBOTT: Note that Dr. Jack called that Kobe rest. He is now back.
DAVID THORPE: In golf, you have to drop your shorts if your drive does not get past the ladies tees. Same thing when Walton blocks your shot.
MIKE MOREAU: How does Rondo keep ending up on Kobe? Backdown city.
HENRY ABBOTT: Probably should point out that free throws so far favor the Lakers 18-2.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The free throw discrepancy is the same thing as the last game. The Lakers are taking it to the basket.
DAVID THORPE: LA still not finding the roll man fast enough.
HENRY ABBOTT: Thorpe you make a good point about getting your shot blocked by Walton. But I also think that you're going to get somebody a hefty fine from the NBA.
DAVID THORPE: If Boston can hang in they may be able to take the 4th-Kobe will be dog tired.
MIKE MOREAU: Is Turiaf that formidable a defender to keep KG from attacking? Celtics are tentative and settling for jumpers -- thus the free throw difference. Pierce getting his J blocked by Walton? Luke, not Bill.
DAVID THORPE: Pau is off balance on his free throws.
MIKE MOREAU: KG is one of the best passing forwards in the league. He will find the right guy out of Kobe's trap.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe is playing like a roving defender now. Playing off Rondo, he's finding situations to double or jam players.
DAVID THORPE: That was a Haslem play Henry.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Sasha Vujacic has been big.
MIKE MOREAU: Big last 90 seconds here, Coach Thorpe. could be 14 or 6 at the half.
HENRY ABBOTT: Vujacic has has taken just five shots, but has more points than any Celtic.
MIKE MOREAU: Weight room, Pau...
DAVID THORPE: Pau just has not figured out that he needs to attack KP's top foot.
DAVID THORPE: If Odom is Batgirl, Gasol is the Penguin's daughter.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Pau is very tentative. He has had a couple of shots blocked. And for all of their woes in the first half, the Celtics are still hanging in.
MIKE MOREAU: My vote is Aunt Harriet.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Doc must feel that Sam Cassell is better for his team than Eddie House. But I thought Eddie House was outstanding in Game 7 against Cleveland.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The Lakers missed ten free throws in the first half. Pau 2-6. Kobe 7-12.
MIKE MOREAU: You have to be impressed with the Laker effort to get back after the turnover. Great effort negates easy baskets.
DAVID THORPE: Here we go again...
DAVID THORPE: Batgirl is killing LA.
MIKE MOREAU: Pierce has no lift on his jumper
MIKE MOREAU: With Pierce not contributing, Celtics must run their Offense through KG
DAVID THORPE: Little has changed from game 2 to 3. Very bad news for LA.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Eddie House gets some playing time thanks to Rondo's injury. Kobe Bryant better not give him space.
MIKE MOREAU: LA is in trouble if they are counting on Kobe to do it alone. If he's bailing out of the offense already, his teammates become spectators.
HENRY ABBOTT: I bet the average net worth of a person in the stands at this game is north of a million dollars. When they announced that everyone would get two free tacos if the Lakers win and keep the Celtics under 100 points, nobody e
ven bothered to cheer.
HENRY ABBOTT: Rondo apparently still hurting. And a Trevor Ariza sighting! Eddie House has been super active.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: That Ariza shot: HUGE!
MIKE MOREAU: All night long, KG. Gasol can't stop him, and KG is a great passer out of the double team.
DAVID THORPE: I smell a sweep.
HENRY ABBOTT: Now that Rondo is out, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins are the only Celtics with more than one field goal. ... Now Garnett has three. For the Lakers, only Bryant, Farmar, and Vujacic have multiple buckets.
MIKE MOREAU: Team defense and hustle = ingredients for a championship.
DAVID THORPE: Both teams look tired. Boston less tired.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: When your main guy is missing free throws, it affects everybody else.
MIKE MOREAU: Gasol looks terrified of KG.
DAVID THORPE: Batgirl needs to show on a Ray Allen shot off a ballscreen.
MIKE MOREAU: Fisher has not been allowing Allen to use the ballscreen. He's been forcing him to turn it down and dribble away from it. Ariza let Allen use the ballscreen and gave up the three.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: The Lakers have got to get Pau Gasol going if they're going to win this game.
HENRY ABBOTT: The box score says there have been 19 fast break points in this game. Seems like it has been pretty slow to me. We'll be in the low 60s at the end of three.
MIKE MOREAU: Running the offense through KG in the post opens up Allen, House and Posey for perimeter threes when LA doubles.
MIKE MOREAU: You can always lift your pivot foot, you just can't put it back down. KG did both.
DAVID THORPE: PJ showing PG how to use shoulders to finish plays and initiate contact.
HENRY ABBOTT: Pau Gasol, who has been playing like a scared puppy all night, just double over in pain for quite some time and all four of his teammates on the court merely stood nearby and looked away. Seemed notable that they weren't patting him on the back, making sure he was OK. I'm cool with the idea that it's HOMBRE time, but supporting each other is still a big part of teamwork.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe is sitting. Celtics are outrebounding by 8. They are leading second-chance points by five. And have a four-point lead.
MIKE MOREAU: Right hand, Coach Thorpe.
HENRY ABBOTT: 45 seconds left in the third and Pau Gasol FINALLY gets a bucket. He has five boards and two assists.
HENRY ABBOTT: I'll tell you something funny: Tonight so many people are talking about whether or not the NBA is fixed. Meanwhile, if the Celtics hold this slim lead, the Finals are essentially over. A 3-0 lead for Boston is the last thing you'd ever arrange if you were rigging things.
MIKE MOREAU: Celtics must keep Kobe off the foul line. Stay head up on his right shoulder and make him change directions. Then hope.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Critical time now. Ray Allen is the only Celtic starter on the floor. Lakers have Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.
DAVID THORPE: Kobe not deep enough in the post to take that fadeaway.
HENRY ABBOTT: Kobe Bryant just yelled at Jordan Farmar.
HENRY ABBOTT: Kobe Bryant's body language is not great. He looks bitter and deflated. I'm sure he'll be back, but for now this isn't inspiring.
DAVID THORPE: Powe is one tough beast. I think he uses rocks as pilows.
MIKE MOREAU: Keep turning the corner on the ballscreen -- that creates the options.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Kobe Bryant hasn't gotten the ball in some time. With this group on the floor, he should touch it every possession.
MIKE MOREAU: Where is the Laker crowd? Not doing their job.
DAVID THORPE: Pierce is exhausted.
DAVID THORPE: Who would have ever thought that Boston-LA woulod turn into Detroit -San Antonio.
HENRY ABBOTT: Dr. Jack Ramsay can hardly bear to watch Bryant shoot free throws at this point. Those misses are like daggers to the psyche of a coach.
MIKE MOREAU: KG time for Boston. Into the post and play from there. LA has no answer.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: 8:56 left, there is a massively long timeout, and Phil Jackson didn't talk to the team at all until the final buzzer had already sounded. He was drawing up some kind of play. I would hope that Kobe will touch the ball.
MIKE MOREAU: How can that not be Kobe out of the timeout?
DR. JACK RAMSAY: That's a strange play, if that's what Phil drew up. Kobe still hasn't touched it since the timeout.
DAVID THORPE: Anhyone who can string together a few three's can blow this thing open and clinch the game.
MIKE MOREAU: KG is posting high enough to allow that baseline cutting option. Perfect position.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: I thought Farmar was good. He defended well, got the ball up quickly. Shot 50%. Five assists. Four rebounds. Fisher's one of five, with one assist.
MIKE MOREAU: James Posey has that Justin Cage, Stanley Burrell X toughness!
DAVID THORPE: Gasol is fighting better. Giving up his body more.
HENRY ABBOTT: Rajon Rondo is back, but almost fell down again. Should be watching how he's moving.
MIKE MOREAU: KG has to override the bench call here and demand the ball.
DAVID THORPE: LA will discuss ballscreen offense right now. They are blitzing Kobe, leaving PG open if they make quick passes. He'll dunk it if they execute.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Tough call to put Eddie House on the bench, but if Rondo can play, you're better with him. He can penetrate, and he can get in the lane for rebounds like the offensive board he just got. ... Once again, Phil Jackson spends almost the entire timeout not talking to his team. A lot of times, in those situations, Kobe talks to the team.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Eddie House is back.
MIKE MOREAU: Boston blew a golden opportunity to turn the screws by going away from KG in the post. They let the Lakers off the hook. That's partly on Doc Rivers, but on KG as well.
DAVID THORPE: Gasol really engaged.
HENRY ABBOTT: Pau Gasol is 3/8 from the line.
HENRY ABBOTT: Free throw totals: 32 for LA, 20 for Boston. Kobe has 18 free thro
ws. He is also still talking to Bennett Salvatore about that last play. He has a T already, so he should be careful -- unless (it's a joke, Commissioner!) Tim Donaghy's lawyer is accurate, and referees have a directive not to eject certain stars.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: Pau Gasol is throwing the ball over the backboard on a possession when Bryant never touched the ball.
DAVID THORPE: LA not executing. Boston is.
MIKE MOREAU: This should be Kobe posting at one end and KG posting at the other
DAVID THORPE: Kobe playing pg late is what Wade did for Miami. Opens everything up.
HENRY ABBOTT: Pau Gasol on that last rebound -- he got it, but almost got crushed in the process -- is a poster child for why NBA big men pump iron.
HENRY ABBOTT: Didn't the Lakers hear all those people chanting DEFENSE!
HENRY ABBOTT: And ... come to think of it, how come they never chant offense!
DAVID THORPE: JVG is right. Have to make someone other than Kobe beat you.
HENRY ABBOTT: Boston's last timeout. I predict they'll live to regret that.
DAVID THORPE: Shot fake step thru, Mike.
MIKE MOREAU: Concede the two - don't give up the three
HENRY ABBOTT: OK, I take it back. They won't miss that timeout. This thing is over.
DAVID THORPE: Bizarre. Wacky. Stupid.
MIKE MOREAU: The Celtics had their best offensive option setting ballscreens for the last four minutes of the game.
DAVID THORPE: But it's a series.
HENRY ABBOTT: The Lakers put some life back into this series. Streamers are falling. People in expensive clothes are filing out with smiles on their faces. There's confetti all over my keyboard, and I Love LA blaring on the PA. Vujacic finishes with 20 points on 10 shots, Kobe Bryant had 36 on 20 shots, the Lakers shoot some free throws, and everyone gets free tacos.
HENRY ABBOTT: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett shot a combined 8/35.
DR. JACK RAMSAY: I would say, in summary, that the overall difference between this game, and Games 1 and 2, was that the Lakers were much more aggressive with the ball, getting it to the rim. If I'm Phil, I'd be very concerned about Pau Gasol's performance. He ended up with nine points and 12 rebounds, not a total disaster. Also a couple of tip-ins. He seemed very tentative. The Celtics can take a lot from this. They shot 35% and almost won on the road. Pierce and Garnett 8/35. You have got to feel they'll have better shooting games than that.
HENRY ABBOTT: Thanks very much everybody. Dr. Jack Ramsay, David Thorpe, Mike Moreau. Great stuff. See you back here on Thursday.