1. The Good It had to happen eventually, right? Pierce scored double figures in each of the first four games of this series, but had yet to have a breakthrough performance. Until Sunday. With his jump shot working for the first time this series, Pierce lit up the Lakers for 27 points (on 12-21 field goals), abusing the defense of Ron Artest along the way.
"Paul is a very deliberate player and when he is comfortable out there, he can be very difficult to guard," said Phil Jackson. "He had Ron guessing out there for much of the game."
Of course, Pierce didn't act alone. Boston took a blowtorch to the Lakers D, knocking down 56.3 percent of their shots in the game. Each starter shot at least 50 percent with only Tony Allen (2-6) and Glen Davis (0-1) not making at least half their shots.
2. The Bad A milk carton is too conspicuous a spot for Lamar Odom. L.A.'s sixth man continues to fool us with decent lines (8 points on 4-6 shooting) and eight rebounds, but he was a total non-factor until coming alive for a six-point stretch in the fourth quarter. Part of the reason Jackson has to stretch Andrew Bynum's minutes is because Odom just can't seem to find a rhythm in this series. Jackson's refusal to put Odom in any pick-and-roll situations -- where Odom, a very good ball handler, might be effective -- may also be hurting the Lakers attack.
3. The Ugly SI.com's Ian Thomsen wrote in Sports Illustrated before the series about the people in Indiana, Sacramento and Houston that expected Artest to have a rough series. So far, they have been on the money. Artest's difficulties in the triangle offense have been well documented, but he appeared to have a breakthrough in Game 6 of the Western finals, blitzing Phoenix for 25 points (on 62.5 percent shooting). But Artest has been woeful in this series. After Sunday's 2-of-9 performance, Artest's shooting percentage dropped to 30.2 percent for the Finals. And L.A.'s so-called defensive stopper was shown up by Pierce, who breezed by Artest on drives several times during the game. Artest struggled so much that a frustrated Kobe Bryant barked at Jackson to let him guard Pierce early in the third quarter.
4, Speaking of Bryant ... he was good.Very good. If the Lakers had pulled Game 5 out, it might have stood as one of Bryant's signature performances. After a so-so first half (10 points), Bryant was unstoppable over the last 24 minutes. And he wasn't getting easy looks, either. With Ray Allen and Tony Allen draped all over him, Bryant made a number of spectacular shots, including 19 straight points in the third quarter that propelled the Lakers back into the game. Unfortunately, Bryant received absolutely no help from anyone in a Lakers uniform.
"He's the best shot maker in the game," said Doc Rivers. "There [are] probably better athletes and all that,but there is no better shot maker than Kobe Bryant. In that [third quarter] stretch, I turned to [assistant coaches] Tibs [Tom Thibodeau] and Armond [Hill], saying 'those are tough shots. You have just got to live with it and play through it.'"
5. Let the Andrew Bynum watch begin Jackson said he gave no thought to shipping Bynum home after Game 4 to get rest and treatment before Game 6. Bynum did play 32 minutes in Game 5 but never established a rhythm and finished the game with just one rebound. Worse, he appeared to tweak his knee again in the first quarter. Clearly Bynum's interior strength is an irreplaceable part of the Lakers defense, and with the cross country flight and a short turnaround game on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see how much he can give for the rest of the series.
"I think he'll feel much more comfortable getting back [to L.A.] and playing," said Jackson. "He has really only played limited minutes since Tuesday. We anticipate that he will have some opportunity to get himself out there, shoot the ball a little bit and give us more than a big body in the sixth game."