Kobe Bryant gained his MVP finals trophy last night, and it was not enough to inspire his team to victory.
Without a doubt, Kobe will have another assasin like performance when the series moves back to LA tonight.
It just won't be enough for the Lakers. Slowly, the Lakers are dissolving before our eyes. It seems the better Kobe plays, the more his teammates are happy to blend into the background.
This is Kobe's team. Everyone knows that. Defenders know that.
As Doc River's said during halftime yesterday, two points by Kobe Bryant count as much as two points by everyone else. The Celtics will not over react to his performance.
They'll force Kobe to win it or be selfless enough in a moment of pressure to force his teammates to win it.
While the Celtics attacked with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo (as Ray Allen continues to struggle), the Lakers had Kobe and whoever was in the paint.
If the Celtics can figure out a way to force Kobe to continue making the great shots he's making, and they're able to pressure the middle man, they'll be able to keep the explosive Lakers' offense in check.
The Suns already proved that the Lakers get easily flustered when they're tempo of play is altered. The Celtics can just create that pressure with better personnel.
The Boston bench outscored the Lakers by 18 points (36-18). 10 of the 18 Lakers bench points were at the hands of Lamar Odom.
The Boston bench is warming up just in time as the Lakers' bench continues to cool down.
The players are being selfless. Big Baby Glen Davis was willing to share his bench minutes with Nate Robinson, despite having 18 points.
The Lakers bench, especially Sasha Vujajic, don't seem to have their chemistry with the team intact.
Bynum has entirely dissapeared. It's a miracle his name is still on the roster.
Instead for the Celtics, even the sluggish Rasheed Wallace is making critical plays.
Looming Game 7
As much coaching as Phil Jackson does, the team will be thinking about game seven. Especially if they start getting a lead, they'll immediately start thinking about how they can apply that to the next game.
Boston, with more veterans, will know when to pounce when the Lakers' minds wander.
The momentum is too strongly with Boston after they beat Kobe in his 'death mde'.
It'll be a close match, but as the minutes wind down it might be too much for the depleted Lakers to bear.