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Sports

June 9, 2008

L.A. Fakers: Celtics exposing L.A. as paper champions

Bill Burt

BOSTON — Where's the beef?

Where were the Hall-of-Fame coaching adjustments when the game mattered in the third quarter?

Where was the sense of urgency in the first quarter?

Where were the 45 points from Kobe Bryant?

Where's the Los Angeles Lakers defense?

Where oh where are the Lakers who buried three behemoths — Denver, Utah and defending champion San Antonio — in succession before these finals?

None of it was evident in the Celtics' 108-102 victory last night.

This was supposed to be the two weeks the Boston Celtics and the Lakers took the NBA back to the future, back to Larry vs. Magic, Havlicek vs. West and Russell vs. Wilt.

Instead it was Leon Powe (21 points) versus a Lakers defense that, at least for one coast-to-coast drive by the power forward, didn't exist.

Through two games there is only one observation to make: What a disappointment the Lakers have been.

I don't want to hear the Lakers made a game of it late last night, outscoring the Celtics 41-25 in the fourth, cutting the margin to two points with 38 seconds left, but Paul Pierce and James Posey hit free throws to insure it was too little too late.

The Celtics got fat with a 24-point lead with 7:40 left in the fourth, and L.A. took advantage with seven 3-pointers. But you knew they weren't going to lose this one.

The Lakers had to win last night if they were going to play a role in saving the NBA, or least winning over several million new fans the way Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did in the early to mid-1980s.

It's not supposed to matter when or where a game is played. Championship teams, or at the very least contenders, find a way.

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