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However, it as always seems quite old school to see teams come on to the floor in the traditional lay-up warm-up drill. And when the green and white clad Celtics and purple and gold laced Lakers do it, you can almost see the dusty and dingy gymnasiums that have housed the game for more than a century.
That’s enough of the history lesson and the similar sentimentally of looking back on this great rivalry as most have done all week. Tonight the series started.
A Tale of Two Halves
Phil Jackson like The Wire this season just went Dickensian on us tonight. Alluding to the classic Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Jackson opened his post-game press conference by quoting the title of that great opus to summarize the game.
“We had some control of the first half, played the kind of game we wanted to play, and in the second half we came out and immediately wiped out the lead we had established in about 20 seconds, a matter of two possessions,” Jackson said.
The Lakers finished the first half up 51-46 with the help of 14 assists. Yet the tide may have turned when Paul Pierce hit an improbable three off the glass from 25 feet drawing contact and a foul from Vladimir Radmanovic. Pierce made the free throw for a lead of 52-51.
Although the Lakers would regain the lead, the landscape of the game had been altered. The difference in the two halves was evidenced by the Lakers would only muster seven assists in the second half – half of what they totaled in the first.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom echoed his coach’s sentiments. “If we played the second half like we did the first half we would have won,” Odom said.
Luke Walton charged it to the Celtics’ defense.
"They play great help defense and our offense counteract that by getting the ball moving to the weak side,” Walton said. “When a team floods the strong side, you get open looks. We were doing that a lot in the first half and we got away from it for some reason in the second half. You got to give their defense credit because they stepped up and made us take tough shots.”
Sasha Vujacic, who finished with eight points, was not so thrilled though even with the play of the Lakers in the first half. “We played just okay in the first half but we found a way to stay in the game,” Vujacic said. “But we’ll be okay.”
Anybody who has watched a middle school or high school basketball games has inevitably heard the cheerleaders chant that basketball nursery rhyme: R.E.B.O.U.N.D, Rebound, Rebound.
It’s a simple matter; the team that wins the rebound game usually wins the game. The Celtics constantly crashed the boards resulting in a 46-33 advantage. The stat sheet reads that the Lakers were out rebounded on the offensive glass 10-7, yet it seemed much worse.
Pau Gasol, who ended the night with eight rebounds, thought that the rebounding was the key. “Twelve rebounds (actually 13) is a big difference in a game like this,” Gasol said. “We have to do much better.”
Odom was more specific about the issue. “When we rebound that balances out our defense,” Odom said.
Bright Lights, Big City
Prior to Game 1, Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw was unsure how the Finals first-timers on the team would react on the big stage of the Finals in Boston.
"These players are so removed from the hatred of this rivalry,” Shaw said. “We’ll see how quick they figure out there’s no love lost here.”
Odom and Gasol had decent production but Radmanovic played only 17 minutes shooting 1-4 from the three-point line and was in foul trouble. Jordan Farmar had one bad turnover and finished with just two points. Vujacic finished with eight points but was just 2-7 from the field. And Luke Walton, the only holdover along with Kobe Bryant and Fisher from the 2004 Finals team, who may have been expected to do more, produced zero points in 13 minutes.
Tex Winter, another Lakers assistant and guru of the triangle offense, may have been playing a little I-spy. Prior to the game, he wandered into the pre-game press conference of Celtics coach Doc Rivers. He sauntered in unassumingly but his ears seem to perk up when Doc began to speak.