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GAME 2: CELTICS 108, LAKERS 102 / Fox views

June 09, 2008|RICK FOX

BOSTON --Rick Fox, who played for Boston from 1991 to '97, and won three title rings when he played for the Lakers from 1998 to 2004, analyzes the NBA Finals:

For three days, the Lakers heard about how they had to come out with more aggression in Game 2, be more physical.

That they were, but their emphasis was misplaced. The key to being physical in a game, effectively physical, is to do so away from the ball. You can be physical changing ends of the court. You can be physical when a guy tries to move from one spot to the next. You can be physical when a guy makes his cuts.

What I saw too much of, however, was the Lakers being physical on the ball and that's the wrong place because that's where you get called for it by the officials.

Sure enough, in the first half, the Celtics shot 19 free throws, the Lakers two. That put the Lakers in a hole from which they couldn't quite recover in losing 108-102.

It was a glaring problem because it nullified a great start by the Lakers. They played exactly the way they are going to have to play to win this series. They controlled the boards, they were strong in the paint and they came up the court as if they were running downhill.

That certainly wasn't the case in the second half when Boston went ahead by 24 points, but then the Celtics took their foot off the pedal and with a small lineup -- Pau Gasol and four shooters -- the Lakers were almost able to come back, cutting it to two at one point.

Ultimately the difference in free throws, 38-10 in the end, was the difference in the game.

Surprises on the scoring sheet: For the Lakers, despite falling behind by 24, they were only out-rebounded by one, 37-36.

For the Celtics, their youth. Guard Rajon Rondo had 16 assists. Forward Leon Powe had 21 points off the bench.

The Celtics' young players have fire in bellies.

Three things the Lakers must do in Game 3:

1. They have to remember the first rule of Acting 101. Take the attention off yourself and put it on everything else. The Lakers played the majority of the first two games with individuals focused on themselves. How am I doing? How am I going to get a shot? They were too consumed by how they were doing individually. When you get down by 24, there's nothing left to do but look outside yourself.

2. Better transition defense.

3. The inexperienced players have to grow at a pace that pays dividends this year. There will be a number of championships in L.A. in the next five years. I guarantee that. The Lakers can't let the inexperience they have now delay the start of that run.

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