Too old. Slow. Over the hill.
That’s how Derek Fisher has been described by critics and fans alike over the last couple of years, even though the Lakers are the current defending champions playing in their third consecutive Finals. Have we all forgotten that in his own right, Derek is one of the most clutch players in NBA postseason history? Let’s face it, all this guy does is win and make the biggest plays when it matters the most.
As the fourth quarter was slowly winding down in a heart palpitation inducing Game 3, Fisher kept his cool, going 4 for 4 from the field, landing hard jabs off 1-2 pick and roll action with Kobe that culminated with a wicked haymaker, which saw him outrun the whole Celtics team for a three-point play layup while crashing into the stanchion. With Fish’s final bucket, the Lakers went up seven with 48 seconds to play.
“Five or 10 years from now, when I’m long gone, I would have hated to feel like I didn’t just do everything I could have to help my team. Things have worked out well, and we have two more wins to get to really put a nice cap on it,” said Fisher after adding to his already extensive postseason legacy.
Derek’s 16-point (11 in fourth) clutch performance was all the more memorable and significant because Kobe went 10 of 29 shooting for the game with his lone field goal in the fourth coming on a crucial pull-up jumper. After two straight dominant outings, Pau Gasol struggled as well going 5 of 11 for only 13 points.
Lucky for the Lakers, Lamar Odom decided to join the party in Game 3 and contributed 12 big points on a perfect 5 for 5 from the field. Although his defense on Big Baby Davis was not impressive, the key is that he avoided putting himself in undesirable positions defensively, thereby averting the foul trouble that plagued him in the first two games.
Bluntly put, Game 3 was about as ugly as you could get offensively as the Lakers and Celtics shot 13.3% (2-15) and 22.2% (4-18) from beyond the arc, respectively. This game was like watching the Ravens and Steelers slug it out on the gridiron – “defensive struggle” being the operative term.