Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Steve's World of Sports

***UPDATED, Wednesday, June 11 at 12:21 PM***

My bad... As pointed out by my boy Don, the Celtics have won two games on the road in the playoffs, at Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Eh, goes to show how interested in the playoffs I actually am...

NBA Finals, Game 3

At least the Lakers pulled this one out… Sasha Vujacic came up huge with 20 points, and hit a clutch 3 from the left-hand corner to put the Lakers up 5. More than the points, it caused Boston to pull back from it’s double-teaming of Kobe as soon as he crossed half-court and allowed him to go one-on-one for two final baskets with under a minute left. Love that Phil Jackson called Vujacic “a rock-head” because he’s so damn stubbornly confident in himself (Kobe blasted him right before he hit the 3).

Still, did somebody forget to tell Pau Gasol (9 points, 12 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (4 points, 9 rebounds, 5 turnovers) that the game was last night? At 6:00 p.m. PDT? Did anybody tell the rest of the Lakers besides Kobe, Vujacic, and Jordan Farmar (5 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds)? At least Odom had that great late-game drive and attempted dunk which Gasol cleaned up.

Fortunately, Kevin Garnett (6-21 FG, 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) and Paul Pierce (2-14 FG, 6 points, 6 rebounds) didn’t know the game was last night, either. And here I was thinking that KG had maybe started to get over the “46-minute man” label that he’s had his entire career, and I was gaining respect for Pierce as a basketball player through the first two games. Garnett was still a load, but Pierce was M.I.A.

Anyway, props to Doc Rivers, who everybody (with the exception of the Boston Herald) thought was overmatched coaching-wise against Phil Jackson. He’s done a pretty good job this series, keeping Eddie House in when Rajon Rondo went out with an ankle injury and double-teaming Kobe to get the ball out of his hands for the last 7-8 minutes of the game. Of course, he pulled a couple of not-so-great-in-hindsight moves by putting Rondo back in late in the game (allowing Kobe to roam free defensively off him) and by pulling off the double-team after the aforementioned Vujacic 3-pointer. If Vujacic hits 3’s after forcing Kobe and another Laker to make a pass, it’s better than Kobe vs. Ray Allen one-on-one.

Props also to Ray Allen, who’s really been missing a lot of the playoffs, but has played well in his last five games. 25 points on 8-13 shooting (5-7 from 3) is what he should be delivering, especially if Garnett and Pierce aren’t playing well. Athletic players who can run and move have always given the Lakers fits.

My big problem with this game (man, I’m really a downer, huh?) is that people are saying that the Lakers are back in the series. Um, sure, the series is at 2-1 and the Lakers have two more games at home, but they fell behind in the third quarter and didn’t look dominant at any point in the game beyond the first five minutes. Boston could easily win Game 4 and it’d be 3-1. Of course, Boston hasn’t won on the road in the playoffs, so who’s to say that they’ll show up, anyway?

Eh, I fully expect the Lakers to win another game at home, and the next story would bear that foregone conclusion out…

Tim Donaghy

For those of you who forgot about Tim Donaghy, here’s the quick refresher: former NBA referee who was caught in a federal investigation into mob gambling and admitted to betting on NBA games and divulging referee assignments and other inside information to gambling sources. Donaghy is currently plea-bargaining with the feds, hoping for a lighter sentence in exchange for helping with the investigation.

Donaghy’s lawyer recently released a statement claiming that the NBA fixed series, possibly mandating that the 2002 Lakers-Kings series be extended to seven games (which the Lakers won in one of the worst-refereed games in history). The statement also insinuated that a 2005 series between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks was possibly altered due to an NBA crackdown on Rockets C Yao Ming after Mavs owner Mark Cuban complained to the NBA.

These assertions seem add to the idea that pro sports occasionally fixes games to get the matchups they want or to extend playoff series in order to make more money. Add to that a recent report in Sports Business Journal that the NBA and it’s partners stand to make $300-400 million per game if the NBA Finals goes back to Boston for Games 6 and 7, and you start to wonder… It’s common knowledge that games in Boston are refereed differently than games in L.A. I can attest to that after having been in college basketball for a number of years. You expect (and usually get) different calls at home than on the road. And $300-400 million is a lot of money…

Of course, this is coming from a guy who has pretty much zero credibility. There is the thought that Donaghy can’t be lying because he’s bound under federal oath, but if he hasn’t given any decent information to this point, maybe he’s just throwing stuff out there. I personally don’t want to believe him, but you have to think about it…

UC Irvine-LSU baseball, Game 3

Three assertions made by a co-worker of mine prior to Game 3: 1) the game was going to be over by 4:25 p.m. PDT on Monday (first pitch was at 4:07 p.m.), 2) if LHP Noel Avison pitched, the ‘Eaters would be in deep doo-doo, 3) LSU was going to get to 20 runs. Unfortunately, all three were true.

The ‘Eaters went 1-2-3 in the top of the first, and then here’s what LSU did:

Leadoff walk (on four pitches).
Runner advances to second on a wild pitch.
Single puts runners on first and third.
Balk; runner on third scores, runner on first advances to second (1-0 LSU).
Home run. (3-0).
Home run (4-0).
Home run (5-0).

All before the ‘Eaters recorded an out. The final was 21-7. LSU hit seven home runs in their last game in their old ballpark and racked up 24 hits, while the ‘Eaters threw seven pitchers out on the mound. Soooooo…

End of the 2007-2008 Big West Conference year. On to 2008-2009. At least Avison actually did okay for the ‘Eaters: 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, 0 ER in the sixth inning.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

a mindless zombie said...

Game 3:

Correction, Boston won two games on the road in Detroit.

The Lakers did not help my confidence. Although, I do think the Lakers can pull off the next two wins. Winning in Boston though is another story.

I didn't think the Lakers played great defense, although I thought it was good to put Kobe on Pierce. I think Boston just missed a lot of easy shots.

Go Lakers!