Huh?

Wow, what’s going on? Chris Mihm is in the game. It’s the first time he’s played since April 15 . Since December 23, he’s played only about 26 minutes.

He’s playing in the spot Ronny Turiaf usually occupies.

Mihm just airballed his first shot.

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Perkins out

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins is out tonight, and there’s doubt about his availability for the rest of the series. Perkins said Saturday that there was a “strong possibility” of him playing with his injured shoulder, but something obviously changed overnight

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Kobe’s future

Saturday at practice, Kobe Bryant was asked about his future, whether he now intended to be a “Laker for life” or whether he still plans to opt out of his contract after next season. Here’s what he said:

Q. Kobe, there’s been all this attention on all your gestures and, you know, what they mean for your relationships with your teammates. In that context, can you say, you know, is it still your position that you want to stay with the Lakers, and if they were to offer an extension this summer, would you sign it?

KOBE BRYANT: First of all, you’re talking like the season is over. You see what I’m saying? So like for me to even answer that question and speculate what’s going to happen this summer, this season ain’t over. It’s far from over. So for me to talk about that would be acknowledging defeat, and that’s something I just don’t do.

Q. I only bring it up in the sense that can you explain what the relationship is, with the gestures, if you seem to be angry with them sometimes? What is the relationship?

KOBE BRYANT: It’s — our relationship is great. I mean, I think people pay attention to it a lot more than you do when you lose than you do when you win. When you win it’s great leadership. When you lose, it’s — you’re a tyrant. You’ve got to take it and roll with it.

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The human side of calling fouls

I came across a really interesting read the other day I thought I’d share. It’s written by Tim Keown over at ESPN.com and I think it’s right on. Basically, he argues that the Celtics foul eight times on every play, knowing the officials can’t call all of them.

First, a tangent: Not that anybody cares, or should, but I’ve coached a lot of youth-league basketball. I’ve learned if your team plays with some semblance of structure, and if they’re pretty good with fundamentals, it sometimes works against them.

Here’s why: If the other team travels every third time it has the ball, or double-dribbles, oftentimes the referees shrug and say they can’t call everything or we’ll be here all night.

But if the team that plays well fundamentally takes an extra step, it almost always gets called. Why? Because it’s obvious and unusual and they clearly know better. It’s just human nature.

This is relevant to the Celtics-Lakers, kind of. The Celtics are the Eastern Conference tough-guy team. In the Finals, that’s their role. The Lakers are the finesse, flashy, keep-their-hands-to-themselves team from the West. That’s their role.

Is it even possible to expect the officials to ignore this, or somehow hold themselves above it? It’s a version of the same principle that allowed Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux to use their pinpoint control to convince the umpires to expand the width of the plate.

To read the whole story, click here:

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Saturday Practice Report

I went out to both the Lakers and Celtics practice this afternoon and found both teams in a very good mood. Yes, even the Lakers. There were two ways the guys could’ve been today: light and relaxed or serious and depressed. If you’ve known this team for any length of time, you’re not all that surprised they’d be relaxed just two days after the worst collapse in NBA Finals history. There are a lot of easygoing personalities on the team –Odom, Walton, Fisher, Ariza, Radmanovic, Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson — and I just got this sense that the team had spent Friday licking its wounds and mourning the missed opportunity, and came back Saturday refreshed. Refreshed doesn’t mean happy of course. No one seemed jolly or anything. But if you think about it, the pressure is kind of off the Lakers now. What’s done is done.

Anyway, here’s a quick update on the Celtics that I just filed:

Celtics notes

By Ramona Shelburne
Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO – Celtics center Kendrick Perkins did not practice Saturday but said that he expects to play in today’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals even though his injured left shoulder is still “very sore.”

Perkins told reporters that there is “a strong possibility” he’ll play, and that he expects to be in the starting lineup tonight, as the Celtics have a chance to close out their first NBA Championship in 22 seasons.

“It’s the Finals,” said Perkins, who was injured after slamming into the Lakers Lamar Odom in the third quarter of Game 4. “You’ve got to suck it up and go all out. I feel like I can go (Sunday night). The doctor feels the same way.”

Asked if he would play if this were a regular season game, Perkins said, “This isn’t a regular season game.”

It is the same shoulder Perkins had surgery on two years ago, and injured earlier in the year in a game against Minnesota.

The news was even more encouraging from second-year point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been hobbled by a bone bruise on his ankle. Rondo wasn’t wearing the hard protective sleeve under his sock that he had been, and showed no signs of a limp.

“The rest has been good for my ankle, and our whole team, because a lot of guys are banged-up right now,” Rondo said.

!bold!Surgery for Pierce?!off! A report on SI.com Saturday suggested that the Celtics fear that “Pierce has at least partially torn his meniscus and that he may need surgery when the Finals are over.”

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Whose fault was the Game 4 loss?

The first assertions of blame were written today, the most dangerous, if you will, came from Bill Plaschke, who put voice to some of the hesitant whispers around L.A. by writing that the fall guy for the Lakers loss might actually be the Zen Master himself.

What do you think?

Whose fault was it?
Everyone’s
Phil Jackson’s
Lamar’s
Sasha’s
No one, the Celtics are just better
  
pollcode.com free polls
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No practice today

For either team…

The Celtics decision was easy to explain. First of all, they won last night and lead the series 3-1 so they’ve obviously been doing a lot right. Second, half the team is hurt.

But here’s what Phil Jackson had to say about why he cancelled Lakers practice today:

“You know, just in the checking out how the guys were and how they felt, I just felt it was a good idea. We have to two days to work on things we need to work on. We have guys that are well-conditioned at this time, and we need rest and recuperation in this situation, probably more psychologically than we do physically.

“These young men are really resilient. That’s one of the things I think I mentioned last night. I don’t think there’s any doubt that if we had to play this morning, we probably wouldn’t feel that great about playing this morning, but fortunately we’re not playing until Sunday, and we’ll be back ready to go on Sunday.

“I just told them as a team, they had their heart ripped out. It’s tough to recover from that, but they will. This thing is not over, and we want to force the action, want to continue to force the play.”

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How are you doing this morning?

How are you doing this morning?
Still in shock
Terrible. I couldn’t sleep all night
Moving on, just bought some Dodgers tickets
I took Kobe’s advice and all it got me was a headache
I’m fired up. This ain’t over. Bring it on!
If Bynum was healthy this wouldn’t have happened
  
pollcode.com free polls

Also, if you’re still looking for answers, or commiseration, head over to Kevin Modesti’s blog and sound off in his look back on Game 4

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Where do they go from here?

Feel free to sound off:

Here’s the story I just wrote on Thursday’s Game 4 collapse, and how exactly the Lakers will be trying to regroup and get ready for Sunday’s Game 5.

By Ramona Shelburne
Staff Writer

Wow.

Just, Wow.

What exactly happened inside Staples Center Thursday night?

How exactly did the Lakers go from being in it, really in it, tied up with the Celtics 2-2 in this best-of-7 series with a chance to take a 3-2 lead on their home court on Sunday, to … um…Wow…

An hour had passed before Kobe Bryant offered his public thoughts on the Lakers epic collapse in Game 4 of the NBA Finals and all he could come up with was an invitation to drink … as if Lakers fans all around the Southland hadn’t already gone there.

“A lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple of shots, maybe like 20 of them,” Bryant said. “Digest it, then get back to work tomorrow.”

But how exactly do you do that?

Put the biggest collapse in Finals history -at least as far back as there are records for that sort of thing – behind you, watch the film, get back to practice and give it a go again on Sunday like nothing happened?

This isn’t the regular season. This isn’t Game 1 or Game 2, or even Game 3. This was Game 4, the game where the home team gets to make it a series or starts making plans for summer vacation. The Lakers had it. It was going to be a series, and then, just…Wow.

“Right now, I think it’s normal for everybody to be a little disappointed, a little pissed off,” Bryant said. “It’s human nature. But tomorrow, you’ve got to get back to work tomorrow.”

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David Stern talks…again

DAVID STERN: Good evening. I’m sorry to interfere with your pregame preparations, but we had received so many media requests for responses from me that I thought it was best to do it here and allow as many questions as possible, given the time constraints.
I just want to say that as part of the investigation by the independent investigator, Larry Pedowitz, that every NBA official has been interviewed and asked the question whether they have made any calls other than on the merits of the calls, and that investigation with respect to all of our officials has been completed, although the report itself is not ready to be issued because it was always contemplated that it would be done after Mr. Donaghy was sentenced and against the hope that the request made several months ago from Mr. Donaghy’s lawyer that he meet with Mr. Pedowitz would be responded to in a positive way, and that has been denied.
Second of all, I, in light of that, and the interviews of our officials, and really on behalf of our officials, didn’t think it was fair for them to have to respond or anyone to have to respond for them against the allegations by an admitted felon that somehow all or a large swath of NBA officials had engaged in illegal conduct. But I would just say, in light of the media coverage here, we will go back and prospectively ask the questions of officials in effect again with respect of specific acts, even though they’ve all been interviewed, so that I could sit here in front of you, really on behalf of our officials, who don’t engage with you on a regular basis, to say no, no, a thousand times no, and I don’t know how else to give them, I think, the protection to which they’re entitled.
This is a subject that I’ve been quite interested in for years. It’s the subject of officiating. It’s something that we decided five years ago that we would track literally every call in order to help develop our officials and make them better, and they really effectively are the most measured and metricized group of employees in the world.
That said, they get about 90 percent or so of the calls correct. Given the size of the players, the speed of the game, the position they find themselves, and as a result, there are always games, some of which are refereed, quote, better, with a higher percentage of correct calls than others. But that’s the extent of it.
I think that’s all I have to say, other than that I find it to be less than fair that our officials now have to defend themselves from allegations by one of their fallen brethren. But that seems to be what the media is demanding of me on their behalf, and I think that their attempt to do the best officiating job in the world under the most difficult circumstances, in an arena setting where the cameras are as close as they possibly could be to any action requires no less. I’m happy to answer any of your questions.

Q. Could I ask you a two-part question? First of all, are you saying that most of the attention has been focused on this allegation in Game 6 in the 2002 playoffs between the Lakers and Kings? Are you saying that his allegations in regard to that game, it’s impossible for his allegations to be correct? And secondly, looking back, notwithstanding the fact that it’s very difficult for referees to do a game, I think we all know that, was that a well-refereed match?
DAVID STERN: My memory recalls that that was not one of the best refereed games, so that’s the second part.
What’s the first part?

Q. The first part is are you saying it’s impossible? I know you talked about him being a felon, and obviously we all know he’s a felon. Are you saying that it’s impossible that his allegations regarding that game are correct?
DAVID STERN: I’m saying I don’t know how — I don’t want to argue with you on possible or impossible. I’m saying to you that the allegations about that are incorrect, are not true. I don’t want to even fudge words, okay; they’re not true.

Q. In light of the revelation by a former referee that Dick Bavetta that has been raised by federal investigators in their inquiries, do you have any concerns about Mr. Bavetta or anyone else?
DAVID STERN: I think I should explain that although the FBI and the U.S. Attorney never shared with us what Mr. Donaghy said to them, you know, the letter, the specifics were laid out in that letter. We had some idea about what was happening because we made available and they went out and sought interviews with many officials, present and former, who informed us of those interviews. So we knew that something had been said by Mr. Donaghy and that the FBI was investigating a variety of claims. That’s what happens. Someone comes in, they make a variety of allegations as they seek to demonstrate their cooperativeness with respect to reducing a sentence, and then you identify people.
But guilt by association is not something that we engage in, and so we just allowed all those interviews to be done, and in fact, helped facilitate many interviews with both present officials for sure, but we knew about former officials, as well.

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