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2010 NBA Finals: Kobe Bryant Is a Great Player, But He Can't Beat Boston Alone

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 14, 2010

BOSTON - JUNE 13:  (L-R) Kobe Bryant #24 and Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on against the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 13, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics won 92-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's 19 point third quarter in Game Five of the 2010 NBA Finals would have been enough to break the spirit of most teams, but even his herculean effort couldn't offset the team-oriented Boston Celtics.

The Los Angeles Lakers are dangling on the precipice of another Finals' defeat at the hands of the Celtics, and the last two games have begun to bear an eerie resemblance to the Lakers' loss in 2008.

In that series Boston decided that Bryant was the only player who could hurt them so the primary focus was on preventing him easy access to the rim, and limiting his chances of creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

The strategy worked as the Celtics were able to execute their plan with near flawless perfection, and it seems they have gained momentum in this year's series by employing the same strategy in reverse.

Boston coach Doc Rivers has said Bryant is a great player, but he can't beat an entire team by himself, so the Celtics have concentrated their defensive focus on preventing other members of the Lakers from contributing.

This would seem like a fool-hardy decision considering the talent of players such as Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers have so far been unable to get any consistency from those three players.

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Bynum's knee injury continues to limit his effectiveness, Gasol has spent the past two games proving how much of a non-factor he can really be and has Odom even played since the series shifted from Los Angeles?

If Bryant was frustrated with his teammates in Game Four, then Game Five may have been the boiling point as no other Laker besides Gasol was able to reach double figures, and he only did so in the fourth quarter.

Bryant's 38 points eclipsed the 34 combined points scored by the other Lakers' starters, and even though comments from Paul Pierce after the game may have seemed condescending, they were true.

Pierce said the Celtics understood they couldn't stop Bryant, but he felt confident that Boston could slow the Lakers' other guys down, or shut them out completely.

Other guys? Have the Lakers really regressed so badly in the space of two games that Pierce can't even remember their names?

I can understand where Pierce is coming from, because if I didn't see the names on the backs of their jerseys I would struggle to identify them also, while simultaneously wondering how they ever made a NBA roster.

Was that the seven-foot Gasol getting his shot double-blocked from behind by the six-foot-four Tony Allen?

I'm sure that was Odom getting abused off the dribble by Kevin Garnett, but the only reason I can tell is because of the tread marks on his jersey from being burned most of the game.

Gasol and Odom were not the only Lakers who failed to offer Bryant any assistance in Game Five, but their absences were the most egregious, because if neither player has a good game, the Lakers lose.

Boston shot 56 percent from the field which was their best shooting game of the series thus far, and Pierce led four other Celtics' starters in double figures with 27 points, his best game of the series.

The Lakers will have trouble bouncing back after this loss, but if they allow the Celtics to shoot for such a high percentage and offer no help to Bryant on the offensive end, why even bother with Game Six?

Better yet, maybe Phil Jackson should see which fans want to suit up for the Lakers in Los Angeles, because I'm sure they can at least provide as much help as the guys who stole Gasol, Odom, and Derek Fisher's jerseys on Sunday night.

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