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6.21.2014

Pat Riley Reflects on the Memorial Day Massacre



May 1985

When Pat Riley is alone in his hotel room, is his hair combed like that?

Oh, to deal with such unimportant questions. Instead, there was that dreadful 148-114 Lakers' Game 1 loss to the Celtics Monday afternoon, which led to this important question: Just what did Pat Riley do alone in his hotel room Monday night?

"I watched the game again," he said. "We were worse than I thought we were, and I'd thought we were bad."

As did everyone else.

"It was like 'Friday The 13th,' " Riley said. " 'Part Four.' "

That bad?

"I thought it would just be the Celtics being just so great," Riley said. "Then you get home and take an objective look at it. You don't see a lot of things until you sit down and watch. Even the three things we emphasized doing on offense and defense - we really didn't concentrate on those things enough."

Riley wouldn't divulge them, but one "thing" must be held responsible for plays such as Larry Bird's four backdoor layups.

"If they're going to get those, we're not concentrating," Riley said. "Effort has a lot to do with it."

Tapes of the accident indicate that effort (i.e. lack of such) was further related to LA's flimsy inside game. Yes, Riley agreed, the Celtics did surround Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. "But sometimes offensive players have to do things on their own," Riley said. "You can't always depend on the ball being thrown to you. You have to get the offensive boards, make things happen." Abdul-Jabbar's stats: 12 points, three rebounds (one offensive).

And this from Riley on Robert Parish: "He beat our big guys up and down the floor all game. We can't let that happen."

Still, the younger Lakers were accepting blame yesterday. Byron Scott was 5 for 14, beginning with a noisy 1 for 5, and said he hadn't started so badly in two playoff series. Had he continued his 65-percent shooting of the Denver series, "that would have opened it up inside a little more," he said.

Scott was still upset with Danny Ainge. "He blatantly just grabbed my arm to keep me from getting the ball and Magic threw it out of bounds," Scott said. "The next time down, he threw an elbow, and I threw an elbow." Then Ainge threw the ball - at Scott.

"I'll be ready," Scott said. "I'll think about it. I'll be definitely ready Thursday."

James Worthy (5 for 14 in the first half) was another disappointment. "I think it (better early shooting) would have kept us in the game a little longer," he said. This indication that almost no one person or thing could have beaten the Celtics was more sobering when he considered his defense against Bird, who had only 19 points.

"He really didn't hurt us," Worthy said. "I still can do a better job. I should have been denying him the ball a little more."

Originally, he did. But watching Bird drive around you once too often - or five or six times - can create a healthy distance. "He and Parish work well together," Worthy said. "I'd be trying to deny Bird and I'd get backpicked. He goes in for the layup and then you get worried. You don't want to let him beat you anymore."

"I thought we contained him pretty good," Riley said of Bird. "It's the other guys they know we're not going to focus on that are hurting us."

Which means Riley must decide whether to defend Boston's guards and Scott Wedman on the perimeter. "We'll be more conscious of them," Riley said. "I don't know if we'll challenge them. We're banking on them being a 48-percent shooting team. Now, sure, we're more conscious of Scotty and of Danny."

This petty analysis will continue for another day, and then everyone will really get started. "Game 2 is just as crucial for Boston as it is for us," Riley said. "I've always thought the second game was the most pivotal. The team with the home court is holding serve, and it's crucial for the team that needs the split."

Humanitarians are hoping for a split. Or at the very least, Riley shouldn't be allowed to sit through another loss like Monday's. "Friday the 13th, Part Five?"

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