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NBA FINALS

For Shaw, It Didn't 'Feel Like NBA Finals'

Game 1: Backup guard makes observation and Fox agrees, saying early 42-19 lead probably led to a boring victory.

June 06, 2002|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One quarter into Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, the Lakers led by 15 points over the New Jersey Nets and a fan in the upper deck at Staples Center was already complaining. "Sacramento," he said, "was more exciting, dude."

And it wasn't only the natives growing restless.

"It seemed like we got out to a big lead and then we got bored," reserve guard Brian Shaw said after the Lakers had sleepwalked through a 99-94 victory. "We stopped doing the things that enabled us to get the lead in the first place."

Earlier in the day, Magic Johnson had called the Lakers "vulnerable," saying they would have a hard time recharging after wrapping up a grueling Western Conference final series against the Sacramento Kings with an overtime Game 7 victory Sunday night at Sacramento.

"We're going to have to watch out," Johnson said. "Everybody thinks it's going to be a cakewalk [but] ... they're going to be all over us."

A few hours later, the Lakers raced out to a 29-14 advantage.

Ennui settled into Staples.

"I think a start like we had tonight gave us a false sense of security," said forward Rick Fox, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. "A good start was maybe what we were looking for, but maybe it wasn't the best thing."

Just maybe, he suggested, it had come too easily.

"We got off to the kind of start we wanted to, offensively and defensively, played with a lot of intensity in the first quarter, got the lead, and then we started to experiment," Fox said. "Simplicity in our offense is what makes us great and at times it's also what bores us.

"Sometimes we create an extra angle on our triangle."

In geometric terms, that would put the Lakers in a rectangle or a square, which apparently is bad because the underdog Nets outscored them, 80-70, over the last three quarters, getting a triple-double from Jason Kidd.

Though they never got closer than three points, the Nets kept the crowd from leaving early.

Not that the Lakers needed reminding, but somebody spelled it out for them on a locker room grease board: "Gave them some confidence. Take it back."

Said Fox: "I think if I was a Net, I would look at the last three quarters of that game and I would take a lot of positive things away from them, which they did.

"We're going to be dealing with a different beast on Friday simply because with a 20-point lead [in the second quarter, they led, 42-19] we didn't push it to 30. We didn't squash their hopes of making this a series."

All because they got bored.

"It was a weird feeling out there," Shaw said. "It didn't even feel like it was the NBA Finals. It just felt like a game, like going through the motions. We're happy that we came away with the win, but we know we can play better."

A victory is a victory and all, especially in the NBA Finals, but

"The way we started out it looked like it was going to be a lot prettier than it was," Shaw said. "... They weren't hitting their shots in the first period and our offense was real fluid. We got the ball inside to the big guy [Shaquille O'Neal], had a lot of movement.

"In the second quarter, we just kind of stalled with the ball, let it stay on one side of the court, and they started to hit some shots and the momentum swung in their favor for the last three quarters. We know we have some work to do. We have to do a better job of staying focused."

No kidding, dude.

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