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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tiger spectacular in taking over U.S. Open lead

SAN DIEGO - Tiger Woods was standing at the podium addressing the media after one of the most memorable rounds of his illustrious career when Rocco Mediate jumped into the scrum, raised his hand and asked The Great One a question. "Mr. Woods, Mr. Woods, Mr. Woods," Mediate said, jumping like a grade-school student with his hand raised. "Are you out of your mind?"

Woods gave one of those classic grins. He didn't respond but the answer, for those living in a cave, is yes. Not only was he out of his mind Saturday over the final six holes here at the 108th U.S. Open, he made nearly everyone at Torrey Pines lose theirs.

After struggling to a three-over score through the first 12 holes, Woods turned the last six holes into a career highlight reel with three unforgettable shots, playing them to an insane 4-under. He shot 70 and stands at 3-under, a shot ahead of Lee Westwood.

Woods pushed a nasty drive into the right rough on the par-5 13th that was near a concession stand and directly behind a television tower. After a free drop, Woods hit his 5-iron from 210 yards onto the front of the green, but his ball rolled to the back, settling some 60 feet beyond the hole.

Then he put a smooth stroke on the putt that had 10 feet of break from right to left and the ball dropped dead center of the cup, setting Woods into a fury of fists pumps that even he hasn't produced too often on the course.

An eagle from the hot-dog stand.

Impressive.

A bogey on the ensuing 14th steamed him, and par on the next two holes didn't exactly make him pleased.

The final two holes, however, were dramatic even by Woods' standards. He blew his tee shot right on the par-4 17th and hit his approach into rough left of the green just outside the bunker. Then he hit a one-hop pitch shot into the jar for a birdie three, sending the Southern California onlookers into a tizzy. Woods' celebration of choice this time was a laugh that sent the vibe that he was embarrassed the ball found the hole.

Birdie from nasty rough after two poor shots.

Crazy.

That was nothing compared to the final hole, where Woods hit driver, 5-wood to 35 feet beyond the hole and then drained the putt for his second eagle on the back side. This time he ended his round with one, strong emphatic fist pump.

Eagle, with a bad knee and the world watching.

Superhuman.

Seriously, this stuff doesn't happen to mortals.

Woods often likes to refer to his fortunes as luck, but it's skill. If it were luck, these things would happen to other players. But they don't. Phil Mickelson hit two good shots on No. 13 and made nine. Woods hits one terrible shot, follows it with two great ones and makes three.

"That's what he does; it is what he does," Mediate said. "But just once, can't someone else do it? Come on."

No, Rocco, no one can. Kudos are in order for Westwood and Mediate, who are the only other players under par through 54 holes (at 2-under and 1-under, respectively), but by Sunday afternoon, both will be footnotes, also-rans.

The proof is in the numbers. Woods is a perfect 13-0 in major championships when holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. He is 43-of-46 when holding at least a share of the lead in his career on the PGA Tour. This is the first 54-hole lead Woods has had at the U.S. Open since he beat Mickelson by three shots to win at Bethpage Black in 2002.

He will not relinquish it.

"Sure, he's probably going to win, but he might not," Mediate said. "You just don't know that."

The only thing that would keep Woods from winning is his delicate left knee, which bothered him often over the final four holes. The first sign of pain came after a tee shot on the 15th hole, and he winced again minutes later after hitting his approach. Ditto on the 18th.

"If the pain hits, the pain hits," Woods said. "So be it. It's just pain."

It's difficult to tell who was in more pain — Woods because of his knee, or everyone else in the field because of Woods heroics.

Woods was asked about his heroics after the round, when a reporter asked him why he celebrated each of the three dramatic shots differently. Seems we're so used to Woods doing the impossible that we're now onto dissecting his fist pumps.

"It's all spontaneous," Woods said of the various Saturday celebrations. "Thirteen, I went nuts and 18, I was like sweet. It's just one of those emotional things. I can't tell you what's coming."

What's coming? Major championship No. 14.

From tee to green and everything in between, check out Golfweek.com.

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Defiant Kobe: 'The series ain't over'

Kobe Bryant mustered only 17 points against the Celts' swarming double teams in Game 4.
Kobe Bryant mustered only 17 points against the Celts' swarming double teams in Game 4

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- With the same purpose as one of his in-your-face jumpers, Kobe Bryant leaned into the microphone.

He promised more NBA finals games to come.

"The series ain't over," he said. "It's far from over."

Faced with long odds, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers returned to practice on Saturday for the first time since Game 4, when the Boston Celtics stormed back from a 24-point deficit to win and take a 3-1 lead in this reborn rivalry.

The Lakers have run out of time and tomorrows. It's either win Game 5 on Sunday or pack away the sneakers for summer.

No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, and even if the Lakers can stave off elimination and win at Staples Center, they'll have to play Games 6 and 7 in Boston, where the Celtics are 12-1 this postseason. Since the league switched to the much-debated 2-3-2 playoff format in 1985, no team has won the last two games on the road.

Their climb is a steep one, and if the Lakers have any chance of mounting a comeback, Bryant, the league's MVP and the game's most transcendent player, most criticized personality and most unstoppable force, must be the one to lead them.

If he's feeling any pressure, Bryant isn't showing it.

The Black Mamba is as cold-blooded as ever.

Bryant was relaxed and jovial during a news conference at the club's practice facility in El Segundo. The three-time champion, whose every gesture and facial expression made toward teammates gets overanalyzed, cracked jokes during a 10-minute session with the media.

Bryant insists the Lakers have moved on since their Game 4 collapse. There's no time to dwell on what happened, all that counts now is what happens next.

"We've got to take care of business on Sunday," said Bryant, who spent much of the past two days relaxing at home with his family. "So what are we going to do? How am I going to get my teammates in the right frame of mind, make sure they're energetic, and that's what it's been all about."

Bryant said he spent much of the past two days reading a Harry Potter book to his daughters.

"It was awesome," he said. "He had more problems dealing with Voldemort than what we have dealing with the media and the Celtics."

Boston is one win from its 17th NBA title and first in 22 years, but the Celtics are wary of Bryant. They've done a decent job of containing him through four games -- his only breakout was a 36-point performance in Game 3 -- but they know Bryant can single-handedly beat them if they're not careful.

"We're up 3-1 and we know we have a lot of basketball to play because Kobe is on that team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "He's the scariest player in the NBA in a lot of ways, so you're fearful of him all the time. A respectful fear."

Bryant didn't score from the field in the first half of Game 4, which the Lakers led by 18 at halftime and by 20 with 6 minutes to go in the third quarter. In the second half, Paul Pierce asked to guard Bryant, a defensive switch that allowed Ray Allen to get his offense going and have his best game of the series.

Pierce's size seemed to bother Bryant, and with none of the other Lakers able to carry the scoring load, Bryant tried to take over down the stretch but couldn't.

"I reached into the hat and couldn't pull the rabbit out," he said.

Allen will likely start on Bryant in Game 5, but Rivers plans to throw different defensive looks at the superstar.

"One guy will not guard Kobe Bryant," he said. "It's just too hard. It's too much work, and it takes all the energy out of that one guy."

Rivers respects Bryant, the player. He respects Bryant, the person, too.

But for all the 29-year-old's brilliance, his 10 All-Star game appearances, two scoring titles and ability to do things on the court that others can only dream of, Bryant can't seem to win over his critics. He hasn't helped his image by demanding to be traded last summer, and there is a segment of fans who have never warmed up to him following his arrest five years ago in Colorado on rape charges.

And then there's his behavior on the court. Bryant is tough on his teammates, some say too tough. If one of the Lakers doesn't perform up to Bryant's expectations, he'll let them know about it with a few well-chosen words, a what-was-that? shoulder shrug or glare.

He's demanding and driven, not unlike Michael Jordan, the player with whom Bryant is so often -- fairly or unfairly -- compared.

One man has a unique perspective on the two icons. Phil Jackson coached them both.

The Lakers head honcho, who has won nine NBA titles, said it takes some thick skin to be able to handle a teammate constantly pushing you to do better. But he has no problem with Bryant's penchant to require perfection from those around him.

"That's an energy that a lot of players can't stand up to, but we try to find players that can," he said. "It's very challenging and I think it's very aggressive and I think it's good. Having lived with it for a period of time with two different types of players, I can endorse it."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Five reasons the Lakers maybe, possibly, could beat the Celtics


Stan McNeal

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Of course, the Lakers can bounce back. Don't be silly. The sun, after all, will come up today. Maybe not in L.A. but somewhere. Probably in Boston.

If you don't want to take my word on the Lakers' ability to rally, check these reasons. They could be legit.

1. The Celtics are banged up. Three starters are considerably less than 100 percent. Well, that's what the team says, anyway. The Celtics' credibility regarding the severity of injuries has to be viewed with a little "Hmm. Really?" skepticism after the Paul Pierce deal in Game 1.

Coach Doc Rivers said Friday that Pierce tweaked both an ankle and his sprained knee Thursday night. A sprained ankle also has slowed point guard Rajon Rondo, and center Kendrick Perkins may have the most serious injury -- a strained left shoulder suffered when he fouled Lamar Odom on Thursday night. Perkins underwent testing on the banged-up shoulder Friday, and Rivers was not optimistic. "That could be significant," he said. Perkins' chances of playing on Sunday are iffy, at best, although he claimed Saturday that there's a "strong possibility" he can play in Game 5.

2. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant. And he has added incentive, according to his coach, Phil Jackson. At Jackson's press conference Friday, he said Kobe would be driven to bounce back from a 6-for-19 shooting performance because of something Kevin Garnett said following Game 4. What, exactly, did Garnett say to rile the Lakers? Jackson wouldn't be specific, telling a questioner, "they're in the transcripts."

OK, here's my guess after checking the transcripts. Garnett: "If you watch them, if you've paid attention to them all year, usually the first half is team ball, second half is usually Kobe takes over the games. They weren't nearly as aggressive as they were the first half. It just looks like they wanted to get the ball to Kobe and him sort of finish it off. That's what it looked like to me."

Translation: Either Jackson is trying to create a bit of controversy where there isn't much or Kobe is pretty thin-skinned to consider that an insult.

3. The Lakers are at home. Well, that didn't work on Thursday. The Lakers lost at the Staples Center for the first time since March. Still, when playing consecutive games at home this season, the Lakers have only lost both games once.

4. They'll be rested. Jackson called off practice on Friday, after checking the shape of the team during a morning video session. "We have guys that are well-conditioned at this time, and we need rest and recuperation in this situation, probably more psychologically than we do physically," he said.

He said his decision was not based on whether the team took Kobe's suggested recommendation on how to deal with blowing a 24-point lead.
Kobe: "A lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple shots, maybe like 20 of them, digest it, get back to work."
Jackson: "They looked relatively clear-eyed."

5. David Stern will tell the refs he wants an extended series. Relax. That's a joke. The league never ever would rig games. Only rogue refs acting on their own would. And there has been just one of those -- that we know about.

That being said, the way things have gone this week for L.A., it seems the odds of another crooked ref being outed are greater than the Lakers' chances of bouncing back against the Celtics.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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MLB Players Gone Wild: Gloves Now On Both Hands

MLB players have now put the glove on both hands and instead of a baseball game you get WWE smackdown as one player usually sends both teams ”cannon-balling” onto the field creating utter chaos. Benches have been clearing like window washers in the recent weeks of MLB play.

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, left, has been suspended for four games and fined an undisclosed amount for his part in a shoving match on Tuesday, June 3rd that resulted in the clearing of both teams’ benches. Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, right, was suspended three games and also fined.

The most serious fight took place last night (June 5th) when Cocoa Crisp’s milk got a bit sour. Cocoa charged the mound, threw a punch, got punched, scratched, thrown out of the game all at the same time. Alright, maybe not exactly at the same time. Notice (right) how the umpire is pointing to direct Cocoa to first base, not the mound. Cocoa was beaned by a pitch and then beaned again this time with a knuckle sandwich before both benches cleared once again.

Soon after the brawl, a fight erupted in the Boston dugout. TV cameras showed Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis being separated after a quick push and exchangement of words at the end of the fourth inning. Ramirez was then escorted down the ramp into the clubhouse.

Both teams may have been on edge fighting to take back first place in the AL, but many fans feel the incident was sparked by a June 4th play (below) when Boston Red Sox’ Coco Crisp (AGAIN) slid into Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, of Japan, while being caught stealing in the eighth inning of their game at Fenway. Trying to knock down the second baseball to break up a double play is always acceptable, in this case however, notice Cocoa’s right arm wrapped around Iwamura’s leg. This is what I mean when I say WWE. This looks like a linebacker trying to drop a running-back before he gets to the goal line. Totally un-excusable!

In most cases, Major League baseball has answered by ejecting players involved with altercations only after a flare up by both teams becomes apparent, not for the individual acts like the tackle to your left. Would Cocoa have been ejected if Akinori Iwamura didn’t retaliate? Hell no.

If you look back on the history of the game, some of baseball’s greatest memories are circled around altercations that took place in the heat of the moment. Remember when Roger Clemens and Mike Pizza went at “it” in the 2000 World Series. Piazza of the Mets shattered his bat on a Clemens pitch, and the jagged barrel of the bat dribbled out to the front of the mound. Clemens proceeded to field the bat and throw it at Piazza. The hype and drama surrounding the infamous Subway Series made that series unforgettable.

Fans may argue that charging the mound and trying to kill the second baseman to break up a double play-is part of the game and I know most of you would agree. However, when players get hurt and fighting becomes excessive, the game of baseball becomes tarnished and the respect of players becomes lost from fans of all ages, coaches, and other players.

A cool brawl that errupted during a minor league game…ps..here is your video! Enjoy!

Here are a few rules (written by Brian Watterman from MVN, a Seattle Mariners Blog) players should follow when tempers flare and Cocoa gets Crispy;

1. If you’re a key pitcher, especially the staff ace, and you are not the one actually throwing the pitch, do not get involved in the fight. Felix Hernandez–stay in the dugout.

2. If you’re having a good year, especially in a contract year, stay out of it. If you must be in it, yell and maybe push and shove on the edges.

3. If you’re recovering from an injury, especially a knee injury, Milton Bradley, do not try to pick someone up and risk re-injuring yourself.

4. If you’re the pitcher, try not to throw at the biggest guy on the team. Don’t throw at Richie Sexson, throw at Willie Bloomquist. When he charges the mound, you will not get hit as hard.

The videos of Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan are no longer available. Best I can do….

Jason Varitek gives Alex Rodriguez a face full of catcher’s mitt, setting off a benches-clearing incident July 24, 2004. (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

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The Great Women of China

BEIJING -- Here is China's secret formula for topping the Olympic medal tally: two X chromosomes.

WSJ's Mei Fong reports that Chinese women athletes consistently outperform their male counterparts. She explores the reasons why. (June 13)

In China, it's the women who have traditionally racked up the medals. At the 2000 Games in Sydney, the Chinese women won five more gold medals than the men. In Athens in 2004, the women won 19 gold medals, while the men won 12. By comparison, American women accounted for 12 of the nation's 35 gold medals in 2004.

Although many Chinese athletes have yet to qualify for their 2008 Olympic berths, women are widely expected to outdo the men again this summer. Wrestling coach Zhang Zhetian says the country's best odds for a wrestling medal lie with the women's team. His reasoning? Women work harder. "Guys -- you've got to push them more," he says.

"Women know how to eat bitterness," says tennis coach Sun Jinfang. (The saying "chi ku," or "eat bitterness," in China denotes a willingness to suffer and endure back-breaking work.) Ms. Sun has helped usher four doubles players into the Women's Tennis Association's top 30; no male Chinese tennis players are world-ranked.

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Gymnast Mo Huilan

The disparity is apparent at Beijing's Xiannongtan Sports School, where boys and girls train separately under bright red banners with messages like, "Grow in Painful Struggle and Develop in Spurts."

In the women's ping pong hall, the tables are newer and slightly fancier than in the men's section, splashed with logos of sponsors such as Japanese company Mizuno Corp. There are no visible logos on the men's side. Xiannongtan's director Hu Xiaobing said the female ping pong players attract more money and sponsors.

Academics say China has long held a historical reverence for strong women, such as folk hero Hua Mulan and idealized Rosie-the-Riveter-type Communist propaganda heroines. This created a space where women who were loyal, filial or gave service to the nation were elevated.

"You have to give it to Communists. They glorified the suffering of the oppressed. And that includes women," says Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who specializes in Chinese sports.

Since its inception a half-century ago, China's massive state-funded sports system has provided roughly equal financial support to men and women. For both sexes, everything is paid for, from medical treatments to training abroad.

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Soccer player Zhang Na

The government recognized that medals won by either women or men would further its goal to be competitive in sports globally. "Besides China, no other nation gives equal financial support and media attention to women's sports. That's why China can challenge the U.S. in medals -- it treats men and women equally," says Ms. Brownell. China's quest for gold intensified following the 2000 Games, when Chinese sports authorities unveiled Project 119, aimed at boosting its medal haul.

When a 2004 foot injury sidelined volleyball player Zhao Ruirui -- nicknamed "the female Yao Ming" for her lanky physique -- the Chinese sports system covered her surgery bills and paid her salary as she sat on the sidelines for four years.

Success for the women comes even as they are outnumbered in the general population. Due to China's one-child population policy and a general preference for male heirs, population planners estimate there will be 30 million more men than women of marriageable age in China by 2020.

The sports system has been one of the few career outlets for a girl with talent. Until recently, women who needed to find work were mostly limited to factory assembly lines. Some 90% of assembly-line workers in China are female, according to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor Pun Ngai.

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Swimmer Zhou Yafei

Training can go beyond rigorous. Swimmer Zhou Yafei blogs about her Olympic regimen: bleary-eyed pool plunges and days that start at 5 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. "I don't know whether this training is scientific or not," she recently wrote. "It is not good for our health."

The gender gap could change as sports grow more commercialized in China. More attention and money are being diverted towards men's professional sports, which attract more viewers. Although the Chinese women's soccer team has outperformed the men's team internationally, the men still pull in more money and sponsors, estimates Marcus John, China head of talent agency IMG Worldwide.

In April, China's women's basketball team beat the U.S. team in an unexpected 84-81 victory in the Good Luck Beijing International Tournament. It was the first time China had beaten the U.S. in an international basketball tournament. To crowds screaming "Go, China!" Miao Lijie, a 5-foot-11 point guard who has played with the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs, scored 26 points, upstaging established stars like Lisa Leslie. During the breaks, fans could catch a relatively new sight: prancing women in skimpy silver outfits, China's first generation of pro cheerleaders.

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Robben twists knife as France stare at exit


Arjen Robben is congratulated by Wesley Sneijder after his wonderful goal. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images

Euro 2008 is Holland's playground. For everyone who has to meet them, the tournament is more of a torture chamber. After this merry and inspired performance the Dutch have now administered drubbings to each of the teams that contested the World Cup final two years ago, running up a tally of seven goals. France and Italy each have the nervy ambition to creep into the one quarter-final place on offer. Both, in theory, could be eliminated by Romania.

Holland are the winners of Group C and may well meet Sweden in the last eight. Marco van Basten's side had a reputation for dourness in the qualifiers but it has been not so much shed as incinerated with this blazing football. Wesley Sneijder typified the team's transformation, particularly with a lovely 20-yard shot which dipped over the leaping France goalkeeper, Grégory Coupet, in stoppage-time for the fourth goal.

France might have shipped a few more. A veteran centre-half such as the great Lilian Thuram forlornly looked his age. Though such factors count, it would be an injustice to do anything other than celebrate Holland and pray that they can continue in this vein. Apart from innate talent, they possess a sense of adventure that has no equivalent in any other team at this tournament.

Van Basten had demanded that fearlessness. He himself must have been liberated by the knowledge that these weeks at Euro 2008 had to be a culmination. Next season he will be in charge of Ajax. Wherever he goes now he will carry with him the memories of these uncanny days. All the boldness of forthright predecessors from the age of total football resides in Van Basten. Those critics who thought him drab are now running for cover.

With a 1-0 lead at the interval, his instinct was to take off the holding midfielder Orlando Engelaar and introduce a devastating Arjen Robben. Compromises and precautions have been expelled from Dutch minds. France doggedly went in search of a comeback and made some inroads against a defence which might be unhappy if anyone ever succeeds in putting it under stress for long.

Holland would not allow that here and when France and Italy restage the World Cup final on Tuesday the prize they strive for will be humble survival. Both would be eliminated if Van Basten's squad took it easy and were beaten by Romania. Bullishness surely will not permit that. Technique and flair have set the Dutch above all others for the present but those qualities rest on a bedrock of confidence. There was no tentativeness when a reaction was essential against a France side who tried to rally.

Holland's opener against France came from a set piece rather than fluid invention but they are most likely convinced that everything will now work for them. A corner was swung over in the 10th minute and, with Florent Malouda a bystander, Dirk Kuyt headed past Coupet.

It looked for a moment as if Kuyt would capitalise on a further French error when an off-balance Thuram inadvertently glanced the ball towards him in the 20th minute, but the Liverpool forward, stretching to connect, could not hit the target. There was a trace of fractiousness then and Claude Makelele got a yellow card for swinging an arm to shake off Rafael van der Vaart.

Sidney Govou shot against the legs of Edwin van der Sar after 23 minutes and with half an hour gone France had a rapid series of drives, with the Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribéry responsible for the best of them as the Holland goalkeeper grasped the ball at the second attempt. It was telling that much depended on Ribéry because the French line-up did not constitute a well integrated unit.

Thierry Henry compensated as he began to come to terms with his role as an isolated striker. At the outset of the second half his rising influence was reflected in a foul on him that brought a booking for Andre Ooijer. France had woe to endure in a revival that would falter. A Govou effort deflected to Henry and his shot struck the arm of Ooijer, but the contact was accidental and pleas were disregarded by the German referee, Herbert Fandel.

It was Holland who re-emerged to punish France with their accuracy. After 59 minutes a fine flick by Ruud van Nistelrooy unleashed Robben on the left and the substitute Robin van Persie's shot from an impeccable cutback rolled into the net despite brushing the hand of Coupet on the way.

Robben was so irrepressible that he smothered a French revival sparked by Henry, who had touched home a low ball from Willy Sagnol to score. Within seconds Van der Vaart freed Robben to score with a rising drive. It looks as if neither he nor his side can be held in check for long.

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Unbelieveable: Lakers Lose Game 4 After Being up by 24

I feel like I want to cry...

What else can I say, the Lakers had the Boston Celtics on their heels the entire first half, everyone was clickin', especially Lamar Odom who finally stepped up and the Lakers went up by 21 points to go into halftime and it looked like the game was over with the Lakers tying up the series 2-2.

I really can't believe I am saying this, but the Celtics really deserve some credit pulling off the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history. It just had to be against the Lakers didn't it?

There has never, I repeat NEVER been an NBA team that has ever, let me repeat EVER comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. So a lot of people we be counting the Lakers out of the NBA finals now, all the haters will be out praising the Celtics, but we must keep hope alive, we must rally around the boys that gave us all the memories this season!! The Lakers will not go down with out a fight!
Yes, Lamar Odom played better and yes, the Lakers looked like the 2008 Lakers in the first half, but the Celtics resilient effort in the second half wasn't nothing short of amazing. Paul Pierce rebounded from his terrible game 3 performance by leading the way down the stretch in fourth quarter against Kobe Bryant and ending the game with a game high 20 points and being the difference in the game for the Boston Celtics.

I think the one big difference between these two teams through this series is that the Boston Celtics just take smarter shots and when the Lakers get a little rattled by Boston's lockdown D (best defense I have seen in a long time), they take bad shot after bad shot and just looked lost on offense.

As a whole the Lakers played great team basketball in the first half with Kobe turning into a distributor and both LO and Pau Gasol being a lot more aggressive and all the Lakers starters scoring in double figures, but the Celtics were continued to chip away at the Lakers lead in the second half and eventually broke the Lakers backs in the fourth quarter.

I will always believe in the Lakers, even if the series were at 3-0 going into this game, but Phil Jackson is going to have to find a way to break down this Celtic defense in order to win or even get back into this series. It is great when Kobe Bryant becomes a distributor and gets all the boys involved, but when the Boston starts to zero in on the role players and LO and Pau, Kobe has to step up and take over and that is just not happening.

Keep the Faith ALIVE! The Lakers can get back in this series!

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