Kobe’s excellent third quarter goes to waste

The third period in Game 5 was the best offensive quarter of the night, with the two teams combining for 54 of the game’s 178 points (~30% of the game’s points). The first half of the third quarter was particularly entertaining, as Kobe scored an astounding 17 points in six minutes. He added two free throws with 4:52 to play, so until Pau Gasol’s bucket with 2:15 to play in the period, Kobe was the only Laker to score.

While this tremendous run kept the Lakers in the game, it took Kobe’s teammates out of the flow of the offense. It’s tough for a team to find an offensive rhythm when one guy shoots every time down the floor.

For their part, the Celtics withstood Bryant’s onslaught by scoring 19 points of their own in the first six minutes of the period. Here’s how the scoring broke down: Paul Pierce (9), Kevin Garnett (4), Ray Allen (2), Rajon Rondo (2) and Kendrick Perkins (2).

So in total, there were 36 points scored in the first half of the third quarter. To put this into perspective, if the two teams had played at that pace the entire game, the final score would have been 152-136.

Kobe was en fuego, but he was visibly frustrated about the fact that the Lakers couldn’t get a stop. It doesn’t do much good to be on fire if the other team is on fire as well.

The series moves back to L.A. for Game 6 on Tuesday, which is a quick turnaround for the older Celtics. How will the 30+ crowd react to the cross country flight and just one day’s rest? The last time the two teams traveled like this, the Lakers looked fresher and won Game 3 in Boston.

My prediction? I think the younger Lakers regroup in Game 6 and even the series at 3-3. In a deciding Game 7 in L.A., I have to go with the Lakers, even though I’m (grudgingly) rooting for the C’s.

The key is Ray Allen — since hitting eight of his first nine threes in Game 2, he has gone 0-for-18 from 3PT. For a career 39.6% three-point shooter, that streak is pretty astounding. The Celtics are going to need him to find his touch if they hope to close out the series in L.A.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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