Monday, June 09, 2008

Usually, a 24-point lead with 7:54 remaining in a basketball game would be a comfortable margin as the clock counted down to an easy win. In fact, if any team were to come back from that size deficit to put the outcome into doubt, it would probably be a college team, given the short three-point line.

But no, this all took place last night in the NBA finals, as the Boston Celtics saw their 95-71 advantage get cut by the L.A. Lakers all the way down to 104-102 with 38 seconds remaining (fourth-quarter play-by-play sheet). The Celts ultimately prevailed, 108-102, to go up 2-0 in the series (article). But the game left a lot of things to marvel at, from a hot-hand perspective:

*By scoring 31 points in roughly the last eight minutes of the game, the Lakers would have been on a pace to score over 180 points for the contest, if (hypothetically) they could maintain such a scoring clip.

*Boston had a 15-2 run to end the third quarter, and a 10-0 spurt to open the second.

*The Lakers were a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line for the game, although what attracted most observers' attention was the disparity in number of attempts (Boston had 38, making 27).

*Even though three-pointers played a big part in the Lakers' comeback (they were 5-of-7 from long distance during a stretch in which they cut the deficit from 24 points to 6), the Celtics actually fared a lot better from behind the arc, 64.3% (9-of-14) to 47.6% (10-of-21) for the men in purple (box score).

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