That's three. But it's not The Big Three.
|Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo try to pick up the slack, but it's not enough. (Getty Images)|
And right here, right now, I'm revoking it.
Big Three? Big fail.
Pierce led the Celtics with 18 points, but he was an inefficient 5 for 15 from the floor. He led the Celtics with 10 rebounds, but that's because somebody had to grab them. The Lakers hoisted up 83 shots -- 12 more than Boston, because Los Angeles pounded the offensive glass -- and they missed 46 shots from the field and 12 shots from the foul line. That's a lot of defensive rebounds for Boston. They had to go somewhere. Pierce got nine of them.
At least he got nine. Garnett, the 7-footer, grabbed three rebounds in 38 minutes. That's bad. What's worse? This is worse: Lakers power forward Pau Gasol had 18 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. There were times when Gasol was playing catch with himself, throwing shots off the rim and grabbing them and then throwing another shot off the rim. What was Garnett doing? I have no idea. All I know is what he wasn't doing. He wasn't rebounding.
Ray Allen wasn't making shots. He was busting his ass on the defensive end, keeping Kobe Bryant in check. I'll give Allen that. But on a night when the Celtics needed perimeter offense, Allen couldn't provide it. He hit his first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, and then made just two more the rest of the way. He took 14 shots and missed 11 of them. He was so lost that he started passing up open jumpers and driving, hoping to get to the foul line because he knew he wasn't scoring any other way.
Allen tried to describe what it was like on the court, and he made it sound like he choked.
"The air was thick out there," he said.
Truly, it was an intense game. It was intense because the Little Nine kept the Celtics close, even had the Celtics in the lead for much of the game. Boston led by nine points in the first quarter, then lost it. Boston led by seven in the second quarter, then lost it. Boston led by 13 in the third quarter, then lost it, then never got it back.
Don't blame it on Rajon Rondo. He dabbled with another triple-double, ultimately coming two rebounds short but finishing with 14 points and 10 assists. His biggest play came with about 20 seconds left when Ray Allen missed a jumper and Rondo zoomed into the lane and batted the rebound out of Gasol's hands. Rondo's momentum carried him toward the corner, where he spun and fired home a 3-pointer that made it 81-79 with 16.2 seconds left.
Don't blame it on Glen Davis. He played just 21 minutes but was more productive in limited action off the bench than the starter he was filling in for, injured center Kendrick Perkins, who averaged 5.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24 minutes in the Finals. Davis had six points and nine rebounds, suggesting a monster double-double had he gotten the playing time of Pierce (46 minutes), Allen (45) or Garnett (38).
Game 7: Lakers 83, Celtics 79
Berger: Changes loom for Lakers, Celtics
|Schedule and Results|
Game 1: Lakers 102, Celtics 89
Game 2: Celtics 103, Lakers 94
Game 3: Lakers 91, Celtics 84
Game 4: Celtics 96, Lakers 89
Game 5: Celtics 92, Lakers 86
Game 6: Lakers 89, Celtics 67
Game 7: Lakers 83, Celtics 79
Don't blame it on Rasheed Wallace. With The Trio Formerly Known as The Big Three struggling, Wallace was the Celtics' most essential player -- Phil Jackson's worst pregame nightmare. Jackson hadn't been excited, at all, about the loss of the Celtics' starting center because he suspected Boston might be better with Wallace than with Perkins.
"I was very concerned that this team was going to have more options without Kendrick than they would with him on the floor because of Rasheed's talent," Jackson said. "He was a good defensive player tonight. I thought he befuddled Pau in the first half ... and his offense was effective as a post-up player."
Wallace had 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots before cramping up in the second half and finally fouling out in the final minute. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was able to pinpoint when the game the Celtics had mostly controlled changed inexorably for the worst. And it was when Wallace had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter with cramps and the Celtics leading 57-55. When he returned six minutes later, the Celtics trailed 68-64. They never led again.
"When Rasheed started getting cramps, that was a killer for us," Rivers said.
And then Rivers let out a secret.
"I don't know if Rasheed will ever play again," Rivers said of the 35-year-old Wallace. "I think he took that out on the floor with him. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor. We had to keep subbing him ... and I thought the reason we got up early was Rasheed Wallace."
The reason wasn't poor-shooting Paul Pierce. It wasn't non-rebounding Kevin Garnett. It wasn't shot-missing Ray Allen. They've done a lot for the Celtics, including leading the 2008 NBA title charge and taking turns playing well this postseason. But in the biggest game of the season, they weren't The Big Three.
They were just three guys. Three guys without a 2010 title.