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Lakers Play Role of Bullies in Game One | The Sports Report Girl

Lakers Play Role of Bullies in Game One

Remember when Kevin Arnold used to get punked by older brother Wayne in “The Wonder Years”? Eventually, Kevin got older — and bigger — than his older bro and that dominance was gone.

The Los Angeles Lakers grew up like Kevin and hammered the Boston Celtics in game one. No longer was Wayne able to headlock Kevin at will or tease him about girlfriends while on the phone. The scoreboard didn’t reflect the beatdown the Celtics received. But the points in the paint, rebounding and second-chance points did.

The Lakers scored 48 points in the paint while the Celtics had 30. Boston was also outrebounded by the Lakers, 42-31. Of those rebounds Los Angeles grabbed 12 offensive boards and the Celtics were held to eight.

Those are not staggering stats, but this next one is: the Lakers had 16 second-chance points. The Celtics had none. No accidental tip-ins. No offensive rebounds for dunks. No long rebounds that led to three pointers. Every Celtics possession that ended in a missed shot meant no points. At all. Usually someone gets a garbage bucket at least. No trash delivery in game one.

Boston, which prides itself on its toughness, was out-toughed. The game was actually played at the Celtics’ tempo. Slow, a lot of foul calls (54 whistles between both teams), no real rhythm to the contest. Boston actually shot more free throws than Los Angeles, 36 to the Lakers’ 31.

“Well, it wasn’t the prettiest basketball game I’ve ever watched in my life,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

All the muscle in game one was flexed by the Lakers’ starting frontline. Pau Gasol led the way with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Gasol’s 14 rebounds equaled the rebounding effort of Boston’s bigs. Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis snatched 14 rebounds combined.

“On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness,” Gasol said. “He’s more of a jump shooter now you could say, comes off the lane. Before he had a really, really quick first step and was getting to the lane and he was more aggressive then. Time passes and we all suffer it one way or another, but he’s still a terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he’s going to bring everything he’s got. You can count on that.”

Center Andrew Bynum, who didn’t play in the 2008 NBA finals, chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds, not spectacular numbers by any means. But he doesn’t have to put up huge numbers. Bynum’s size clogs the lane for the Celtics and provides the Lakers with the luxury of bringing Lamar Odom off the bench.

Finally, there was Ron Artest, Thug No. 1, the guy you want on your team, but you don’t want to play against. How tough was he? Only 27 seconds into the game he got into a wrestling match that Stone Cold Steve Austin would have been proud of with Paul Pierce. Both players went to the ground and were called for double technical fouls.

Although the Lakers played Godzilla to the Celtics’ King Kong, Boston should have a better effort in game two. After suffering their own smackdown they are almost certain to come out more aggressive in the next game. Ray Allen didn’t play many minutes because of foul trouble and Rajon Rondo got stuffed every time he ventured near the basket.

Boston hit one three pointer. If some more of those go down, it will be a close game.

The Celtics may feel like Wayne Arnold, overshadowed at his sudden inability to punk little bro, but they must flex their own muscle if they want to make this a series. It’s no secret that the Lakers have star players at almost every position, but it was the Celtics rugged defense that got them back to the finals.

Wayne Arnold must stand up to the challenge of Kevin Arnold. Kevin may be bigger now. So what, Wayne must say. Wayne, er, Celtics, show that you’re tough too.

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