Is this post going to seem over-reactionary? Absolutely. The NBA season just started. It’s literally hours old. But might as well call it like we see it, and this is all we have to go on at this point. Father Time was tough on the traditional powers yesterday. It’s only one game but the Lakers and Celtics may face the same harsh realities all season long. The defending champion Mavs don’t get a pass either. Once that banner went up, it was all downhill after that as the Heat got a measure of revenge, well as much revenge as you can get in the opener of a long, shortened season.
Boston walked into Madison Square Garden and let the Knicks have their way with them for the entire first half, trailing by as many as 17. They found their pride, experience, and veteran savvy in the second half. They battled back and even pulled away, building an 89-79 lead that they wouldn’t be able to hold on to as they lost 106-104 when KG missed a game tying jumper as time expired. Granted, Paul Pierce didn’t play, but once again that’s just Father Time sending out memos. Pierce is starting the season banged up with a heel injury. It’s going to be hard for him and a lot of older guys with injuries to get healthy with game on top of game on the schedule in this compressed season. Once they finally get healthy it may be hard to stay healthy. The grind is intensified.
The Lakers didn’t fare any better, they just took a different path to their disappointing loss. They were surprisingly competitive and in control late even though guys like Andrew Goudelock, Devin Ebanks, and Josh McRoberts played significant minutes. They led by 11 with less than four minutes to play, and 6 with less than a minute to go. Kobe drove the lane and hit a spinning baseline fadeaway to give them an 87-81 lead. As vintage as he was on that play, he was just as awful the rest of the way. He missed a much easier jumper from the elbow that would’ve iced it, or at least made it a lot more difficult for Chicago to come back. He committed a foul on Luol Deng going for a loose ball. Was it a questionable call? Maybe. Did Deng act a little bit? Maybe. But hey, when in Hollywood. . . Kobe was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he got whistled for it. Deng made both free throws to cut the lead to 87-86.
Then the Black Mamba tops it all off with his awful turnover after being trapped near half court. Deng got the steal, he was everywhere down the stretch. His stat line would’ve made Scottie Pippen proud. He smartly got the ball to D-Rose, who amid all the chaos, smartly backed it out to get that iso against Derek Fisher (a VIP Father Time Club member). The reigning MVP drives right into the lane and drops the softest clutch floater, this side of Magic’s baby hook that beat the Celtics in ’87, right over Pau Gasol for the go ahead bucket.
The stage is now set for Kobe, the wrist is hurt, we know, but he’s gutted it out and has a team high 28 points on 11-22 shooting. He drives right, trying to get the angle for the lay in, only to have his shot smacked out of bounds by you guessed it, Deng. Game over. The most telling moment is when he turns and walks off the court without a word. He has no argument and he knows it. It’s just rare to see Kobe unable to get any shot he wants in that situation. Credit the Bulls defense for dictating to him what was going to happen. Now it is just one game. I’m not saying the Celtics and Lakers are going to go 15-51 this year, I’m just saying that for them to get whatever they end up getting they are going to have to work harder than they have in a long time to get it. Fresh legs will rule the day this season.
Agree, disagree, agree to disagree? That’s fine, scroll down and leave a comment below, on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Hardyboysportsblog, or on Twitter @VinnyHardy.