In the aftermath of Game 4′s comeback/collapse, the Lakers are still trying to figure out what went wrong. Like in many big losses, blame can be spread around: to Kobe for not making shots (6-for-19 FG’s), to Phil Jackson for not taking advantage of the fact Boston didn’t have a true point guard on the floor for most of the second half, to Lamar Odom for disappearing in the second half, and to any and all of the other L.A. role players for getting lazy once they got a big lead … And, of course, some blame will go to Sasha Vujacic, who was infamously dusted by Ray Allen on the drive-and-layup that proved to be the dagger. After his crying, chair-bashing tantrum on the bench afterwards, Sasha told reporters he couldn’t play the kind of D he wanted due to the refs. “The whole game, from the minute I came in, they called fouls on me. [Allen] fell down; foul. I was trying to find a way to guard him for 48 minutes, and everything I did was a foul,” Vujacic said. “He got me. He went to the basket, and it was a good basket. I don’t know what else to say.” Sasha added, “I wanted to stay with him, I wanted to stay aggressive, but again, there would be a foul. So I kind of stood back, I gave him the room to operate, and he went to the basket, so that was a bad defensive decision on my side. It doesn’t matter, help or not, we came out and were supposed to be more aggressive, and not let him breathe at the top of the key.” And for what it’s worth, Pau Gasol admitted that he messed up by not coming over to help on Ray’s drive, saying he wrongly thought he should stay with Kevin Garnett to prevent an offensive rebound … We caught some of Doc Rivers‘ Friday press conference, most notable for the part when a reporter asked about Doc’s father and he almost broke down in tears before saying he couldn’t talk about that right now. Doc later stood up for Kobe, saying he’s one of the “three or five” best players of all-time and gets way too much criticism and unfair comparisons to Michael Jordan … Down 3-1, the Lakers are already having their respective eulogies written. Yesterday one of our own writers is put the ’08 Lakers right next to the ’01 Sixers as one of the NBA’s worst-ever Finals teams. We also saw a lot of articles looking ahead to what the Lakers need to do to improve for next year. Possible trade scenarios involving everyone from Michael Redd to Josh Howard to Jermaine O’Neal to Zach Randolph were mentioned, as well as speculation on whether L.A. will go after free agents like Ben Gordon, Antawn Jamison, Josh Smith and Gilbert Arenas … The NBA’s top-selling jerseys this year, according to NBA.com, are in order: Garnett, Kobe, LeBron, A.I., Chris Paul, Steve Nash, D-Wade, Shaq, ‘Melo, Arenas, Dirk, Dwight Howard, T-Mac, Paul Pierce and Gasol. That last one seems strange. We’re pretty sure we’ve more Baron Davis, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, and even Stephon Marbury jerseys on the street than Gasol … Speaking of jerseys, here’s an e-mail from Austin: “I got on the train in Brooklyn and saw this older man, maybe 60-something, wearing a Lakers hat and a Lakers #00 jersey. I’m thinking, ‘No this guy does not have on a Benoit Benjamin jersey!’ So I kept an eye on him, and when he got up the back of the jersey said ‘L-Boogie.’” OK … A straw poll of the Celtics fans in the Dime office revealed they’d rather have their team win Game 5 and clinch the ‘chip at Staples than have to go back to Boston for a Game 6 and possibly Game 7. Basically, they’d rather get it over with than to give away a game and leave the door open for Kobe to do something historic. As cool as it we’d imagine it to be to win a title on your home floor, we’re sure the Celtics are thinking the same way … Is KG the type of guy to hold a grudge? If so, be sure to catch the first Celtics/Kings game of next season, because Ron Artest had a stinging back-handed compliment for KG when he was asked about Game 4. “I was never a Garnett fan, I’ve never seen him come through. But tonight he surprised me,” Artest said. “The biggest shots of his career, and he came through.” … Remember Yaroslav Korolev? He was the Russian teenager who was picked ahead of Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, Jason Maxiell, David Lee, Brandon Bass, Nate Robinson and Rashad McCants, among many others, in the 2005 Draft by the Clippers at the #12 spot. Korolev was pretty much a bust right off the bat, and didn’t even make the Clippers roster last year. After a year of playing pro ball in Russia on the same team as Marc Jackson, now Korolev is coming back and gunning for a spot with the Clips. “I learned a lot and I’m sure that I’m a better player,” Korolev, 21, told the Orange County Register. “I still appreciate everything that happened and I don’t have any bad feelings. Right now, at my age, I’m still young. I know the kitchen now. My goal is to get back to the NBA.” I know the kitchen? Anyway, with Corey Maggette likely gone and Tim Thomas morphing from a solid contributor back into Tim Thomas last year, the kid might have a shot … And on that note, the Knicks fans in our office are abjectly terrified their team will use the #6 pick on Danilo Gallinari later this month. The 19-year-old Italian is reportedly only interested in playing for the Knicks or the Nets (who pick 10th), otherwise he’ll just go back home. Working in the kid’s favor is the fact that Mike D’Antoni obviously respects the Euro game, and he played with Danilo’s father in Italy years ago. We’re gonna be at MSG for the Draft, and we can only imagine that boos and the objects being hurled by the New York fans if they take Gallo and somebody like O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon is still on the board … We’re out like L-Boogie …
Smack / Jun 14, 2008 / 12:01 am
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