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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

It's eerily familiar for Lakers

Their 103-94 loss to the Celtics brings back memories of 1984, when they followed up a Game 1 win with a blown opportunity in Game 2.

June 06, 2010|Mark Heisler

Anyone know what Doc Rivers' record is in playoff series that are tied 1-1?

For Lakers fans wondering what could go wrong in Game 2, while their team's front line dominated the Celtics, who were really, really determined to push them around this time, welcome to the rivalry.

After everything that has happened to them over the years, there's no disaster the Lakers haven't seen, like Sunday's game in which they seemed about to sweep to a 2-0 lead, only to watch the Celtics sweep past them and tie the series, 1-1.

It was deja vu all over again, or 1984 revisited.

Who needed to go back in time?

The Lakers had leads in the last minutes of the first four games in 1984 Finals, only to lose two of them, and ultimately the series.

That Lakers nightmare started in Game 2 too, when Gerald Henderson stole James Worthy's pass in the backcourt and laid it in to tie the score with 13 seconds left, sending it into overtime, where the Celtics won.

On Sunday, the Lakers' starting front line outscored the Celtics' front line, 52-28, with Pau Gasol scoring 25, Andrew Bynum 21 and Kevin Garnett six.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, their backcourt was outscored, 51-27, with Ray Allen scoring 32 and Rajon Rondo 19 with 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Lakers' problem was Insufficient Kobe, with Kobe Bryant limited to 34 minutes by foul trouble, held to 21 points.

Worse, there weren't enough of him to guard Rondo and Allen.

Bryant's ability to keep Rondo out of the lane was a problem for the Celtics in Game 1 and might have been in Game 2 if Allen hadn't busted loose on Derek Fisher in the first half, 27 points worth.

Bryant switched onto Allen, Rondo busted loose.

"Teams have done it all year, so it's nothing new, putting a big guy on Rondo and a smaller guy on Ray," Rivers, the Celtics' coach, said afterward. "And every time they do that, we feel we can give Ray shots, and that's what happened. Obviously, it's a lot better when he's on the floor."

In Game 1, it was Allen who got in foul trouble, playing only 27 minutes.

The Celtics grumped through two long days before Game 2, managing not to scream whenever brought up Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's 47-0 record after winning Game 1.

"Yes, it's come up several times," said Allen, stonily, Friday.

"It's the first thing I heard when I got here the day before yesterday. It has nothing to do with me, so I don't concern myself with it."

Allen came out firing Sunday, keeping the Celtics in the game while Gasol and Bynum played over their heads at the other end.

When Bynum went out and Lamar Odom came in, making another forgettable appearance, or forgetting to appear again, the Celtics went up by 14 in the second quarter.

The Lakers cut it to six at halftime, then started the third quarter on a 15-7 run to take the lead with the Celtics looking shell-shocked.

With the Lakers up, 63-61, Bryant found the 6-foot-0, 175-pound Rondo on him, started to back him down, only to see the pesky tyke tip the ball away.

Rondo pounced on the ball, falling out of bounds, with Bryant getting a foul call for pushing him out.

It was Bryant's fourth, obliging Jackson to pull him 6:18 left in the quarter.

Granted a reprieve, the Celtics got back into it, then spurted at the end as the Lakers fell apart, making one shot, a Bryant three-pointer, in the last 5:20.

Guess who's turn it is to feel glum?

Bryant, becoming ever briefer in sessions with the media, answered 14 questions in 193 words, by actual count.

Included was this sparkling exchange with talk show host Vic "the Brick" Jacobs, dressed in Lakers colors, who asked, "Que pasa in that fourth quarter?"

"Just costly turnovers down the stretch," said Bryant.

"That's it?" said Vic.

"That's it," said Kobe.

That's obviously it, at least until Game 3 in the bowels of hell, or TD Garden in Boston. To the Lakers, it's all the same.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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