Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kobe Bryant Leads the Lakers to Victory; Max Baucus on Health Care and Ultra Marathons

Last night I watched Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals; the Lakers beat the Nuggets 103-97 and now lead the series 2-1. Kobe Bryant was impressive -- he was visibly determined to win the game, as when he hit a crucial late 3 and gritted his teeth (the gesture didn't look like posturing - it looked like he was intensely in the moment).

I couldn't believe how many jump shots both teams missed -- clank after not-even-close clank (I've just checked on ESPN, and Denver was 5 of 27 from beyond the arc). But, on the positive side, both teams played aggressively, which is not something I associate with the NBA and which the Lakers, specifically, have been called out for lacking. Pau Gasol (for LA) and Chris Anderson (for Denver, with a hilarious spiked hairdo and incredible number of vivid tattoos) were particularly intense. Gasol's got a ridiculously odd form on his free throws but I love his high-arching, accurate 10 foot jumpers.

Ultimately, the game came down to the last minute, and the Nuggets turned the ball over at absolutely the worst time. Here's the re-cap, from Michael Lee's article in the Washington Post:
The Western Conference finals have only lasted three games, but the Denver Nuggets have already suffered two losses that played out like the rerun of a bad sitcom. For the second time this series, the Nuggets trailed by two points in the final minute only to watch Trevor Ariza intercept a wayward inbounds pass and the Lakers steal a win.

On Saturday night, Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin played the role of reserve guard Anthony Carter and delivered a bad pass to the wiry Lakers forward. Ariza's steal with 37 seconds remaining helped the Lakers escape with 103-97 victory in Game 3 of this best-of-seven series. "It was kind of funny," Ariza said with a shrug afterward. "It was pretty much the same thing, different player involved."

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 41 points, including a huge three-pointer with 1 minute 9 seconds remaining, as the Lakers became the first team in 11 weeks to win a game at Pepsi Center. The Lakers also found a way to tame Carmelo Anthony, who scored a team-high 21 points but struggled with foul trouble most of the night and failed to reach at least 30 for the first time in the past six games.

I just read an interesting Washington Post profile of Max Baucus, D-Montana, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and in that role is on-point for Obama's health care reform.

230. The article says that Baucus, 67, runs ultra-marathons. This is very impressive -- how does he find the time to train for them, and where in the DC area does he do his long-runs? Does he run the trail along the Potomac?

231. In terms of drafting comprehensive health care legislation, where do you even start? Whose job is it to find all the places in the US Code (and the Code of Federal Regulations) where laws/rules could affect health care coverage and then amend all of them so that everything "works" in terms of a big-picture reform? Is there a massive flow chart that some aide is developing that shows all the possible interplays of revised laws and rules?

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