Top 10 Possessions of the Conference Finals

Another good video from BasketballBreakdowns:

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Three pretty incredible shots by Kobe

Starting at the 3:00 mark in the video, you can see the three shots Kobe hit down the stretch that sealed the game (and the series) for the Lakers. Love him or hate him, he is incredible.

Goran Dragic vs. Sasha Vujacic

Is there anything better than two Slovenians continuing their personal rivalry in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference Finals?

The Suns were on life support, down 17 in the fourth quarter, when Dragic came into the game, hit a jumper and started to talk some sh*t to Vujacic, who has some problems with Dragic over the fact that he (Vujacic) was dismissed from the Slovenian national team. Vujacic lost his cool and elbowed Dragic in the face, and it turned into a six-point play. Suns down 11 with 11:11 to play.

Kobe on the squabble:

Still, Bryant, who led the Lakers with 37 points, did not take kindly to Vujacic’s flagrant foul playing a role in Phoenix’s rally. In an interview with TNT immediately after the game, Bryant said he wanted to “kill” Vujacic after what he did and still wanted to “kill him” even though the Lakers won.

So what did Dragic say? Vujacic, who we all know is not to be trusted, said the following:

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WCF Game 6: I’m on Team Goran

The Lakers may have won, 111-103, thanks to some incredibly clutch shots from Kobe Bryant (37-6-2) in the fourth quarter, but the rivalry between fellow Slovenians Goran Dragic and Sasha Vujacic (sort of) stole the show. The Suns were on life support, down 17 in the fourth quarter, when Dragic came into the game, hit a jumper and started to talk some sh*t to Vujacic, who has some problems with Dragic over the fact that he (Vujacic) was dismissed from the Slovenian national team. Vujacic lost his cool and elbowed Dragic in the face, and it turned into a six-point play. Suns down 11 with 11:11 to play.

The Suns eventually cut it to three with 2:18 to play, but Kobe hit two impossible shots, a 23-footer with 1:59 to play (and two guys in his face) to push the lead to five and a very contested 21-footer with 0:35 to play to push the lead to seven. Game over.

So we have a rematch of the 2008 Finals — Lakers vs. Celtics. There is plenty on the line for both teams, but I expect Kobe and the Lakers will come out very motivated to avenge the Finals loss two years ago.

On a side note, no one can question what Ron Artest has brought to the table in this series. After his timely game-winning put back in Game 5 and his 10-for-16, 25-point, three-steal effort in Game 6, I doubt there are too many Laker fans wishing that Trevor Ariza was still on the team.

Be sure to check back on Monday for my writeups about where the Suns (and Magic) go from here.

How a simple box out can win a game

By now, you’ve probably heard about Ron Artest’s game-winner last night in pivotal Game 5 against the Suns, but what you might not know is exactly how it happened.

In the video below, you’ll see Kobe catch the ball on the sideline and chuck up a horrible shot. But what you need to pay attention to is Ron Artest and Jason Richardson on the other side of the court. Watch as Richardson turns, stands and watches Kobe’s shot. He’s supposed to be boxing out Artest, but instead, he’s about as useless as you or I am sitting at home.

Did this play look familiar? Watch Pau Gasol’s easy route to the bucket to score his game-winner against the Thunder in the first round.

This happens time and time again. It even happened to Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1983 NCAA title game when Lorenzo Charles snuck in behind “The Dream” and dunked home the game-winner…

Once a last-second shot goes up, the tendency is for players to stop and watch, especially when they think the game is over. But with 3.5 seconds to play, there is plenty of time for a shot to go up and for a tip in on the miss. That’s what Jason Richardson, Jeff Green and Hakeem Olajuwon failed to realize in these clips.

It does no good to stop and watch. After Kobe’s desperation shot attempt, the only way the game doesn’t go to overtime is if Richardson or one of his teammates fails to box out his man. In that situation, he should be seeing both Artest and Kobe (in his peripheral vision), and when the shot goes up, he needs to make contact with Artest and do whatever it takes to keep him away from the rim. If he had even slowed Artest by a half second, the game would have gone into overtime.

And that’s how a simple box out can win a game.

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