The scoreboard posted the ending results at Staples Center, and quickly, an enticing scene in a sudden-death situation erupted an electric crowd that never had to shut their eyes or bite nails, but loudly cheered the Los Angeles Lakers to an 89-67 victory in a crucial Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
If you felt a jolt or heard a rattling sound, it wasn’t an earthquake that shivered Southern California recently, but it was the Lakers rising above a disappointing loss to force a Game Seven, refusing to stumble in an elimination game.
It hasn’t been a spectacular series, but a nerve-racking series for the defending champs by meeting the Boston Celtics, it’s archenemies in a rematch seeking to avenge a miserable 39-point loss two years ago.
In theory of the Lakers, it’s very clear that Team Hollywood knew much was at stake, performing brilliantly and responding with urgency and fortitude, to survive a redemptive series in which the Lakers tries to mount a legacy.
Late in the fourth quarter, he walked to the bench and received a standing ovation from the crowd before he sat on the sideline, wearing a towel and a pleasant facial expression, delighted with the recovery in a must-needed game.
It was Kobe Bryant, who was faulted for the Lakers’ mental lapses and physical inadequacies to implode chemistry and disrupt the energy and drive of his supporting cast, facilitating and involving his teammates by spreading the floor and drilling well-advised shots.
The timing couldn’t be better for a composed and smarter Bryant, the greatest closer in the game known for obliterating defenders with his sequential scoring and miraculous shots.
It isn’t often in sports when a man with a selfish modus or arrogance, accepts an applause subsequently being described as a pompous, self-centered hypocrite who ultimately abandoned his teammates and hurled too many irresponsible shots.
For all the abuse he took, from the no-call when Paul Pierce snatched the ball out of his hands in Game 5, from the doubters constantly scorning the greatest player in the game, from the media blaming him of the Lakers recent falters, he was absolutely the man setting the tone early.
He almost took most of the finger pointing for deranging the Lakers offense and defensive commitments, but now he’s not hearing the displeasing questions from inquisitive reporters in the interview room, commended for minimizing his shooting percentage and playing the specific role of a virtuous overseer with cultured leadership.
They were a baffling unit, almost committing championship suicide as a championship-caliber team and the most talented franchise, without any discipline, toughness or star power.
But suddenly, the Lakers were serious about staying alive and protecting its title by repeating glory once again, persevered and fervent to symbolize the symmetry of valued mystique and tradition.
Here were the Lakers again, escaping a soft, indolent and complacent attitude, as fans supporting purple and gold believes in the home team, believes there’ll be another parade on Figueroa, believes that Bryant will obtain his fifth championship, and believes purple and gold confetti will fall from the Staples Center rafters when the Lakers hoist the trophy Thursday with a win over the Celtics.
For the first time this series, they exploded with much parity and urgency, to pull away midway in the second quarter and never blew a large margin. Normally, the Lakers lose huge leads for becoming to comfortable and inattentive, but not on the night a credible season was endangered of missing out on a title.
At least once, a glorious journey almost ended wasteful, dropping Game Five in a hostile territory, booed and badmouthed by the unfriendly Celtics fans. It’s a different unit avoiding the same type of mistakes that cost them the last game, with a new makeover after returning to Hollywood invincible and unbeatable.
Turns out the average citizen was granted their wish after all, prepared to witness a Game Seven of the NBA Finals, following a triumphant performance that gives the Lakers an advantage with home court advantage and the greatest closer.
If the Celtics dares to win and travel home with the trophy and celebrate by marching in a parade, they may not outlast or outwork the Lakers in the final game of the season, when L.A. dictated the ultimate standpoint of the series and seized all vitality, realizing they are a win away from sustaining back-to-back triumph.
By avenging consecutive losses in Boston, the Lakers forced a seventh game with the series tied at three games apiece.
So now, the latest chapter in the NBA Finals is a historic and bitter rivalry, in which two storied rivals will meet on the hardwood for a crazy, tense showdown that will write an epic classic as one memorable event in ages. In desperate moments, winner takes all. Amid a pair of legacies, each opponent is craving a taste of the hardware.
“This is definitely a special treat for the NBA,” said Ray Allen. “We’re going to Game 7, and this is the finals, and it’s the Celtics and Lakers.”
Even though the Larry O’Brien trophy was ready to be presented to the Celtics, it has to wait a few nights before the worthy one wins it all, whether the Lakers avenges its failures two seasons ago or the Celtics shatter the hearts of Hollywood.
In present, was the Celtics legend Bill Russell, who couldn’t bear to glance at the painful rout and left for the exit with three minutes remaining.
For most of the night, he watched the Lakers push and abuse the archenemies, he watched the entire team dominate the villains, he merely watched Bryant have a stellar game with 26 points and 11 rebounds, and he watched Pau Gasol come close to a triple-double, bouncing back from a dreadful contest with 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
If Celtics center Kendrick Perkins never had collapsed with Andrew Bynum midway in the first quarter, departing with a sprained knee, maybe Boston might have stayed within double-digits. It’s unfortunate to loss Perkins, a muscular center with incredible strength and size in establishing as a post defender and slow down the Lakers from overworking the Celtics in the paint.
“It’s a big disadvantage,” said Bryant. “He’s a big emotional leader for the team. I’m sure it didn’t help them, him going down.”
It’s often bad to dismiss the Lakers, but a loss in the next game will probably go down as one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
Meanwhile, the Lakers raises closer in capturing redemption and vengeance. And if Bryant is ever described as one of the greatest basketball stars of all-time, he immensely need contributions from his supporting cast, similar to what his teammates exploited when Ron Artest finally wasn’t confused and had 15 points and badgered Pierce with his defensive mentally.
But the bigger factor was Gasol, who shot 19 times in 40 minutes, finally stood up to a sluggish Kevin Garnett and played with much toughness as his soft demeanor quickly vanished.
When the Lakers come out with high-energy and urgency, it usually stimulates the bench, as Shannon Brown electrified the crowd on a pair of high-flying dunks that were created off of two of the seven turnovers the Lakers forced.
“We want to carry everything we did tonight to Game 7, and then I think we’ll be in very good place to win,” said Gasol. “When you bring the intensity we did tonight, good things are going to happen.”
The capacity crowd chanted “BOSTON SUCKS! BOSTON SUCKS!” after averaging 67 points, the second-lowest in NBA Finals history. Early on, the Lakers slaughtered the C’s, cruising to a 22-point lead in the first half as the Lakers sturdy defense forced Boston to shoot a horrible 33 percent from the field and had only 13 points from the bench. On positive terms, all the Lakers need to fulfill a wonderful and memorable moment in a potential epic showdown is another win.
For now, the Lakers are meaner, fiercer and hungrier than the Celtics. At least it looks that way.