Monday, June 03, 2002

MORE GAME SEVEN STUFF: Slam's Lang Whitaker on Game Seven:

After scaring the confidence out of Derek Fisher, the soul out of Phil Jackson's patch, and the streetwise thuggishness out of the Maloofs, the Sacto Kings collapsed like a house of 'tards last night. Despite it being a tight, overtime game, it sure wasn't much of a game. The Kings were shooting like deadly Chris Dudley from the free throw line (a combined 8-19 from Turk, CWebb, Christie and Vlade), while boxing out like Keith Van Horn (four Lakers hit double digits in the rebounding column).

And yet I'm sure people will talk about this as being one of the great games of all time. For Kings fans, sure, it's a great game because it represents the night the Kings came thisclose to making the Finals. For the rest of us? Well...

I miss the great games we used to see. I still remember, growing up, sitting on the floor in my parent's den watching the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, where Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird loaded two franchises onto their backs and carried their teams to the finish. You could double them, triple them, whatever. They just kept scoring. Nique finished that night 19-23 for 47 points, and as Nique told me last year, "You know, you had two guys who didn't want to lose on opposite teams, and it was, was a shootout."

The Kings played last night more like a shut-out. Turkoglu wouldn't have shot that ball down the stretch even if the ball was on fire. Sure, Bibby had 29 points, on 11 of 25 shooting. Turkoglu played 30 minutes and got off 7 shots. Peja -- still slowed by that ankle trouble, I assume -- went 3 of 12, and tossed up a fantastic airball with the game on the line. And the Lakers weren't much better, as Shaq and KB8 combined to go 22 of 51. Heck, Fox and Horry went 11 of 29.

Because no one was playing defense, both teams were able to get off enough shots to hit 218 points, as ugly a 218 as you'll ever see. It's more than just hitting clutch shots. Hitting clutch shots because you carried your team to that spot is one thing. Hitting clutch shots because everyone else missed is something else.

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