The mantra goes, anything can happen in a Game 7. That’s what makes it so beautiful. It’s sports at its dramatic apex, stripped bare of everything but the game itself. No room for error, no getting them tomorrow night. It’s the ultimate win or go home. As an invested fan, however, it’s absolutely terrifying for those same reasons: every possession, every shot carries the weight of the world. And it’s true – anything goes. The Blazers blow a 15-point lead in the fourth. Stojakovic and Christie miss wide open 3s… badly. The Suns win by 30 and Kobe packs it in for the second half. 2000, 2002, 2006. Add to that the Angels 2002 World Series clincher (as Lackey gets the win, the first time a rookie’s done so since 1909), and those are the four Game 7s I’ve lived through as a fan. 3-1. I would never have expected that this second round Lakers-Rockets series to add to the list. And yet, here we are: Game 7.
12:13 pm. If I could write one of those classic NBC promos for today, it might go something like this.
The Houston Rockets weren’t supposed to be here. Less experience. Less talent. Less health. But adversity is the fire that forges champions, and the Rockets have thus far matched the mighty Lakers blow for blow. If this no-name bunch is to be christened the David in this story, they’ll have to do it one more time, facing the most insurmountable of odds. A Game 7 on the road.
And then you’d cue the NBA on NBC theme song, with the montage of images from playoffs past: “Oh, a spectacular move by Michael Jordan!,” “Bryant… to SHAQ!,” and so forth. In case you can’t tell, I’m pumped for this. I’m plowing through my Panda Express (the usual: half-and-half, orange chicken, beef & broccoli) and my Coke slurpee (special Terminator: Salvation hologram cup and figurine straw). Game 7: let’s do this thing!
12:33 pm. Gasol jumps out to block a Scola field goal, and Kobe drives to the basket for two. It IS a Game 7! By the way, I just remembered that I could have gotten tickets to this game a couple of weeks ago, but dropped them because I didn’t want to pay $15 in Ticketmaster fees even if the game didn’t happen (which I figured it wouldn’t). Good times! I shall title my autobiography, “Misadventures of a Giant Douche.”
12:48 pm. D-Fish hits two shots! Bynum has two blocks! The Rockets have two field goals! 17-6 Lakers! Of course, the thing with this team this year (and last) has been its tendency to give up big leads. So I’m definitely wary. I’m also still trying to finish my lunch.
1:00 pm. Lakers by 10 after one quarter, as a graphic notes that the team that has won the first quarter has won every game in the series. We return with the in-game coaching interview. I mute the television: that’s how uncomfortable these things can get. On an unrelated note, the Ducks fell to the Red Wings in Game 7, which means they will not win the Stanley Cup this year, which means that I am now officially 0-16 in lifetime sports bets. One day, I’m just going to bet both sides so I don’t have to be Susan Lucci anymore. That game will then be canceled due to the weather.
1:13 pm. I realize that Lucci has won once. It apparently took her 19 nominations. Considering I have two more sports bets in progress (involving the longterm success of the Angels this year), this might come down to the wire. Anyway, back to the game. Lakers by 16, finally getting to the paint consistently against a team that doesn’t have a player taller than 6’9″. Yet, somehow the Rockets are 2-1 without Yao.
1:16 pm. And Bynum with a little forearm to Aaron Brooks on his way down the court. Pure class. By the way, I’m embarrassed to admit that I think Year One looks hilarious. “I am called Abel,” “No, you are called Suck!” makes me laugh so hard that the last time I saw the trailer, I started giggling in anticipation even before the line came up.
1:34 pm. We’ve reached the half, and the Lakers are up 51-31. It was 51-26 about a minute ago, which is a little frustrating. Kobe takes a 30-foot three pointer, Ariza misses a little layup, Odom throws the inbounds pass away with 2.0 seconds left (opting for a full court pass when Ariza was in the backcourt, and could have taken a couple of dribbles for a reasonable half-courtish shot). I’m a glass-half-empty guy, I guess. Meanwhile, the Angels are about to get swept in Texas. Blargh.
1:45 pm. ABC’s The Goode Family looks as different from King of the Hill as American Dad did from Family Guy when that launched. At least when Matt Groening created a second animated series, he moved it 1,000 years into the future. Also, it was awesome.
1:49 pm. I’ve never had live shrimp. I don’t think it’s a real dish. Then again, I’ve never had dog, and I’m pretty sure that exists in the Far East.
2:12 pm. Rick Adelman has a “Chuck Hayes just tried a ridiculous pass and bounced it straight out of bounds” look on his face. Because Chuck Hayes just did. Play has gotten a little sloppy in the third, but the Lakers retain the lead. I’m amusing myself by doing nothing on Facebook (redundant) and browsing internet forums. Game 7 transcends sports!
2:15 pm. I’m really tired of the whole “Shane Battier is amazing” angle. He’s so smart and knows how to play without fouling and shows up in ways that aren’t in the box score and wills his team to victory and the President is text messaging him and Michael Lewis sucks his dick and so on and so forth. Well, in about 14 minutes, Shane Battier is going fishing.
2:29 pm. Gasol’s playing great today, dominating the boards, posting up Scola, even getting chippy down low… but I wonder if it’ll continue against hardcore gangsters like K-Mart and Nene should we move onto the next round. Europe: Where soft happens.
2:44 pm. A shot of Mutombo (looking terribly depressed, hunched over, slumped way down in his chair) next to Yao on the Houston bench. I think he just has terrible posture, but Patrick Ewing always looked like that too when he was the Rockets’ assistant coach. Maybe they only have one chair equipped for a 7-footer. Regardless, I smell buddy comedy! “One’s from the Congo, the other China! He’s one of the tallest men in the world; the other’s Yao Ming! One can barely speak English; the other’s Dikembe Mutombo! What wacky shenanigans will these two get into? Find out this Fall on ABC. Rush Hour: The Series!” …okay, so the Lakers are up 30 and I’m bored.
2:53 pm. Lakers 89, Rockets 70. A terrible Game 7 from a competitive standpoint; a fantastic Game 7 from this perspective. It’s still hard for me to see this as a championship team in the making though, given that this game even had to take place, given everything I’ve seen over the course of the season and the first two rounds. But you never know. Denver and the Western Conference Finals await. One step at a time.