Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wally Still Sucks
After two weeks away (the All-Star break and a five-game road trip), the Boston Celtics returned home last night and convincingly beat the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, 92-87 (the score is misleading, it wasn't that close).
While it wasn't an offensive masterpiece, the C's (44-12) played some lockdown defense, the key element to their great season thus far. They were also helped out by the Cavs (32-26), who were content with that old NBA standby-the no ball movement, one shot possession.
Ray Allen led Boston with 22 points and four rebounds while Kevin Garnett (18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) had an outstanding all-around game that was the norm for him in the first half of the season. Paul Pierce (12 points on 4 of 14 shooting, 5 assists, 6 turnovers) was not on his game but super subs Leon Powe (13 points) and Glen Davis (9 points) continued to shine as their playing time steadily increases.
The Celts took the first quarter, 25-16. LeBron had a Allen Iverson/Kobe Bryant-esque 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He was 7 of 24 from the floor but was bailed out big time by the refs, making 11 of 15 free throws. Apparently, you can't play defense on LeBron anymore, as decreed by chief toad David Stern, or you'll get whistled for a foul.
Cleveland picked up four new players last week before the trading deadline and they had mixed results last night. Old Celtics Delonte West (20 points, 5 rebounds) and Wally Szczerbiak (12 points on 3 of 13 shooting, 5 rebounds) returned and Ben Wallace (6 points, 6 rebounds) and Joe Smith (9 points, 4 rebounds) also contributed. West showed all the good parts of his game: the fearless slashing to the hoop and plucky shot-making ability. Wally couldn't do the one thing he's supposed to: shoot. Big Ben looked like the disinterested and overpaid bum he's been the last few years in Chicago while Smith was nice in limited minutes.
The Cavs took the second quarter 24-22 but Boston carried a 47-40 lead into the half. Rajon Rondo (8 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) had some great drives and Kendrick Perkins added eight points.
The NBA held its collective breath when LeBron went down with an ankle injury (he came down on Pierce's foot after making a layup) and hobbled over to the sideline late in the second quarter. No less than six guys followed him into the locker room so you knew he's kinda important. Nothing to fear though as the King came out to start the second half and drained a jumper 14 seconds in. He laughs at us mortals.
Sadly for him, Boston outplayed Cleveland in the third, 28-22 and although the Cavs took the final quarter 25-17 it didn't matter since guys were just padding their stats.
Boston shot 52.3% and held Cleveland to 38.3%. The monstrous Cavs owned the boards(44-37) but the Celtics worked it around much better (27-16 assists). The Celts also survived 20 turnovers.
While this certainly wasn't Cleveland's best effort (without Daniel Gibson, the second most dangerous player on the team), it's not like the Celtics were flawless either. It was a nice win, their third in a row. The Bobcats come to Boston on Friday and the C's will be looking for revenge after Charlotte pulled off the big upset in January.