Posted Jun 18 2010 6:24PM
Rajon Rondo dives through Jason Williams, channeling his inner Dave Cowens. A piece of Steve Nash's face is busted open ... again. Kobe Bryant lifts his arms to the rafters, confetti and adulation raining down. Again.
The moments of the 2010 NBA playoffs flash before us in the blink of eye. In so many cases, they will resonate a lifetime.
The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their 16th championship Thursday night, grinding past the rival Boston Celtics in an epic Game 7. The league's two most-storied franchises gave us a fitting finale to four rounds and 82 games worth of moments.
Many were captured by the ever-present cameras chronicling every podium sound bite, every walk from the bus to the locker room and every hardwood triumph. Others are more personal and quiet, witnessed more so by chance and coincidence.
Listing all of them is impossible. Here are some favorites:
Best flurry in winning cause: Dwyane Wade erupts for 19 points in the fourth quarter of Miami's 101-92 Game 4 win over Boston to extend the series. The Heat were down 3-0 and going into the fourth before D-Wade's show, which included a perfect 4-for-4 display from beyond the arc. Wade finished with a franchise playoff-record 46 points.
Best flurry in losing cause: Kobe Bryant scores 19 straight to start the third quarter, 23 going back to the first half, as the Lakers looked to steal Game 5 in Boston. Kobe hit shots from every possible and impossible angle and tallied a game-high 38 points. But it was the Celtics prevailing 92-86 to take a 3-2 lead to Los Angeles.
Triple-double for the ages: Celtics' lore is chock-full of unforgettable playoff performances. Some hailed Rajon Rondo's triple-double in Game 4 against Cleveland -- 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists -- as possibly the best of them all. The Celtics needed every bit of Rondo to tie the series at two games apiece after being blown out in Game 3.
Ready for prime time: Whenever the Suns' bench took the floor, magic seemed possible. Or was that Dragic? It's not fair to call the Phoenix reserves the "bench." They were a true second unit able to maintain leads, extend them and win games in the fourth quarter. Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Channing Frye, Leandro Barbosa and Louis Amundson earned a collective on-court postgame interview after the Game 4 win over the Lakers in the West finals.
Enter the Dragic: Goran deserves his own breakout after breaking off 23 points in the fourth quarter of the Suns' 110-96 win at San Antonio. The second-year Steve Nash backup out of Slovenia helped Phoenix take a surprising 3-0 lead over its playoff nemesis. Dragic racked up 26 points: "The rim was huge," he said at the time.
Dave Cowens would be proud: How bad do some guys want it? Rajon Rondo wants it more than most, and in this case, more than Jason Williams. What appeared to be a simple case of White Chocolate chasing down a loose ball in the backcourt became an instant classic as Rajon dove past Williams, got up and banked in the shot in a Game 3 win over Orlando. Celtics legend Dave Cowens called the play better than his classic dive to the sidelines against Milwaukee that has become a highlight-reel staple.
Willis Reed would be proud: A mere eight days after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and after Portland announced he would miss the entire first round, Brandon Roy came off the bench in Game 4 against Phoenix at the Rose Garden. The emotional lift carried the Blazers to a 96-87 victory to knot the first-round series at 2-2. Roy managed to score 10 points in 27 minutes.
Thrill of victory and agony of defeat: Ray Allen one-upped Michael Jordan and every other 3-point shooter in Finals history with a dazzling exhibition in Game 2. Allen's eight effortless 3-pointers set the new standard and gave Boston the early split at Staples Center. Of course, Allen followed by missing all 13 of his shots in Game 3 to nearly set a record for futility.
Good night and good luck: LeBron James and the No. 1 seeds were shown the playoff door in the East semis by Boston in a stunning six-game upset. The Cavaliers essentially quit at the end of Game 6, beginning the most-excruciating offseason in franchise history on the sourest of notes. Will he stay or will he go? Has one loss ever meant so much?
Welcome to the Show: Two years into their permanent NBA existence, the fans of Oklahoma City put their stamp on the playoffs with three nights of Thunder inside and outside the Ford Center. The Kevin Durant-led upstarts stretched the defending champs to six games. Mission accomplished.
Flat busted: Facials had more play in the first two rounds in the West than a spa. Manu Ginobili takes pride in getting into the fray, and his distinct nose met up with Dirk Nowitzki's elbow in Game 3 of San Antonio-Dallas. Ginobili would wear a butterfly bandage for the rest of the Spurs' playoff stay. In the following round, Tim Duncan's elbow opened up a generous gash above Steve Nash's right eye. Luckily for the Suns and Nash, it was in Game 4 as Phoenix closed out San Antonio.
Summer blockbuster: Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Nate Robinson are bucking for a movie deal -- buddy cops? -- after the Shrek-and-Donkey routine they pulled off at the podium after Game 4. Nate also got plenty of TV mileage after jumping on and riding Baby's back during the game. Cue the drool.
Buzzer-beater: Paul Pierce nailed a 21-footer as times expired to give Boston a 100-98 victory over Miami and a commanding 3-0 first-round series lead. The Celtics advanced in five games.
Buzzer beater II: Ron Artest muscles his way to Kobe Bryant's air-balled 3-pointer and banks home the Game 5 winner to break a 2-2 tie with Phoenix in the West finals. Ron-Ron redeemed himself for a monumental lapse in judgment on the previous possession when he took a 3-pointer with 22 seconds on the shot clock.
Cleveland rocks ... not: Joakim Noah didn't back down with his and the Bulls' backs to wall in the first round. Not only did he utter the infamous "Cleveland sucks" after Game 1, the brazen third-year forward followed it up after Game 2 with, "What's so great about Cleveland?"
Heartfelt thanks: Steve Nash stopped two teammates on his way out of the shower, out of sight of most reporters and said: "Thank you guys, seriously." Phoenix had just eliminated the Spurs, the team that had knocked the floppy-haired Canadian out of the playoffs five times previously. Channing Frye replied: "Steve, I'm happy for you. I can honestly tell you wanted to win this so bad."
What did he say?: The coachspeak we hear during timeouts is almost always of the "C'mon boys, let's play harder" variety. We know much more is said, and Phil Jackson inadvertently proved that during Game 5 of The Finals. Late in the fourth as the Lakers were trying to rally, ABC aired this from the Zen Master: "They know how to lose in the fourth and they are showing us that right now." Whoops.
A kiss and party: Ron Artest found himself lost in the moment, perhaps on his psychiatrist's advice, when he blew a kiss to the crowd following a dagger 3-pointer to effectively clinch Game 7. Minutes later with the celebration in full swing, Finals MVP Kobe Bryant stood triumphant on the scorer's table, a champion for the fifth time.
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