Friday, February 26, 2010
Last night was an all-too familiar script for the Celtics against a good or in this case, a great team.
They started out hot, up ten after the first quarter (31-21) and built the lead up to thirteen before eventually, the Cavs (45-14) decided to start playing and what do you know, they ended up winning a laugher 108-88 at a stunned TD Garden.
Ray Allen scored a team-high 21 points for the Celts (36-20) and Rajon Rondo had 19 points and 11 assists but he was shutdown after the first quarter when he put up 12 points and seven assists.
LeBron James had his usual game of 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds but it was his supporting cast that swung the momentum to his team's side. Mo Williams added 19 points, including four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter (35-14) and Sideshow Bob aka Anderson Varejao notched 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Boston was still up 56-48 at half and 74-73 after three quarters but they couldn't hang on since nobody wanted to step up in Paul Pierce's (thumb, flu) absence.
The Celtics had 32 points in the second half which is pathetic. They allowed the Cavs to shoot 52.6% while Boston was 40.7%. Cleveland had four more threes (10-6) and five more assists (24-19).
The running joke that is the New Jersey Nets comes to the Garden tomorrow afternoon for what should be a ritual sacrifice, no doubt instilling false confidence in what is not a very good Celtics team.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It was a strange night at the TD Garden last night as Eddie House, Bill Walker and the New York Knicks came to town for coincidentally enough, Nate Robinson's debut with the Boston Celtics.
The fact that Walker (7 points) had more production than House (4 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) and Robinson (4 points, 2 steals) should tell you all you need to now about that trio's impact on the proceedings.
Playing without an injured and sick Paul Pierce, the C's (36-19) slogged their way to a 110-106 win over the Knicks (19-37), who lost their eighth in a row.
Ironically, the turning point in the game was a block by Ray Allen (24 points, fourth straight game with 20+ points) on Wilson Chandler (19 points) with Boston clinging to a 109-106 lead with under a minute left. Allen, who will never be known for his defensive prowess, came out of nowhere to swat Chandler's layup into the seats.
For three quarters, the Celtics and Knicks ran up and down the court, scoring a ton of points but in the fourth quarter, Boston finally put the clamps on New York and took the fourth 16-15.
All-Star David Lee showed off his game with 28 points and 15 rebounds, Sergio Rodriguez added 18 points, six assists and five rebounds while Al Harrington scored 18 points off the bench.
Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 16 assists, Kevin Garnett had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Marquis Daniels scored 14 points starting in place of Pierce and Kendrick Perkins notched 12 points.
Besides Ray Ray's defensive play, the only thing to remember from the game is the montage the Celtics showed on the Jumbotron when Eddie House checked in for the first time. Always a fan favorite in his three seasons with the Celts, House rightfully got a standing ovation.
Boston is currently a game ahead of the Hawks and in third in the Eastern Conference. They have a big showdown with King James and the Cavs tomorrow night at the Garden and on TNT. Should be quality entertainment.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Talent-wise, you'd be hard pressed to find more than two or three teams in the NBA (Lakers, maybe Magic) more talented than the Denver Nuggets.
They can score with anybody, they're great at home and they've been on a roll lately. All this meant that yesterday's game at the Pepsi Center, wrapping up the four-game West Coast trip, was nearly impossible to win for the Celtics.
The Nuggets (37-19) proved in the first quarter of their 114-105 win why they're so good and later in the game why they'll probably never win a title, since they rely way too much on clowns like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin.
Chauncey Billups, who's having a career year, led the Nuggets with a game-high 26 points and seven assists, Melo added 23 points and eight assists while both Nene (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Martin (12 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles. Smith scored 19, including 16 in the fourth quarter.
Even though it was a loss, there were plenty of good signs for Boston. Ray Allen continues to play as if he just jumped out of a time machine, he had a team-high 25 points. Kevin Garnett (15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks) looked as explosive as I can remember him all season.
Rajon Rondo (15 points, 11 assists) and Kendrick Perkins (14 points) had another good game and Marquis Daniels was a revelation off the bench with 15 points in 18 minutes.
If Paul Pierce (2 of 10 shooting, 5 points) had been anything like himself and not the currently crippled Truth, the C's might have pulled this one out.
Denver was up twenty points in the first quarter and almost ran the Celtics (35-19) out of the building, up 37-19 after the first twelve minutes.
Thanks to great play from its second unit, the Celts clawed back into it and were down only 54-47 at the half.
Boston tied it in the third quarter but they were gassed by that point and the Nuggets had way too much firepower to be held down for too long.
Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry should be in uniform tomorrow night as the Knicks, their former team, come to town in Eddie House's first return to the TD Garden since he was traded last week.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Remember when we had buried the Boston Celtics before the All-Star break? They weren't going anywhere and they had to trade Ray Allen. It's funny how much of a difference three games make since the Celts have won three straight coming out of the break, including an impressive 96-76 victory last night in Portland.
It was one of Boston's (35-18) best defensive performances of the season. Kendrick Perkins (7 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks in 25 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks in 22 minutes) seem re energized the last two games, particularly on the defensive end where they're much more active and mobile.
The other theme of the last two nights has been the comeback of Ray Allen. He had a game-high 21 points and five assists last night and shot 9 of 14 from the floor.
Rajon Rondo added 10 points, 11 assists and three steals while Glen Davis scored 10 off the bench.
For a team desperately clinging onto the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Blazers (32-25) were just lifeless.
Injured star Brandon Roy surprisingly played but he was held to nine points. Andre Miller led Portland with 16 points and LaMarcus Aldridge notched 15 points.
Boston led 32-25 after the first quarter and 56-38 at the half. Portland (23-17) made a slight run in the third quarter but even with the bench in for most of the fourth, the C's (23-15) not only held on but increased the lead.
The Celtics shot 53.4% for the game and Portland shot a pathetic 33.8%. Portland had 18 more made free throws (30-12) but Boston had an incredible 20 assist advantage (27-7). The C's also took advantage inside with 44 points in the paint.
The West Coast trip concludes tomorrow afternoon in Denver, against the high-scoring, thugtastic Nuggets. 4-0 would be pretty sweet for the Celtics but this is going to be a really tough one to get.
Friday, February 19, 2010
There might be nothing going on in the sports world besides the Olympics (snooze) but for one day, the NBA was front and center. The trade deadline came and passed yesterday with many teams making minor moves and a few making a big splash.
Antawn Jamison is on the Cavs, Marcus Camby went to the Blazers and T-Mac and his juicy expiring contract went to the Knicks. For the Celtics, the weeks of Ray Allen rumors proved pointless as he stayed with Boston although they did trade Eddie House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker to New York for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry.
I love House and will always have fond memories of his time in Boston (particularly the championship year) but he's having a bad year and he was very expendable. Nate Robinson is younger, more dynamic and can hopefully provide the consistent scoring off the bench that the Celtics so desperately need.
Oh and by the way, the Celts were at the Staples Center last night playing the Lakers albeit without the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant.
Whatever the reason, perhaps because of the burden off his shoulders (of not being traded), but Ray Allen was back to his old self last night, dropping a game-high 24 points as the C's (34-18) held off the Lakers (42-14) 87-86.
The Christmas day win in Orlando and this are interchangeable as the best wins of the season so far. Last night, Boston played great defense and although they only scored 11 measly points in the fourth quarter, they were able to hold LA to 17. The Celts' second half collapse when they were up 11 happened but they weathered it and pulled out a huge road win.
All five starters scored in double-figures in what fittingly was the definition of a team win. Rajon Rondo added 14 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and five steals as he badly outplayed Derek Fisher (3 points, 1 of 9 shooting). Kendrick Perkins finally showed up and had 13 points and 14 rebounds, Kevin Garnett scored 13 and Paul Pierce notched 11 points.
Even without Kobe, the Lakers are one of the deepest, most talented teams in the league. Pau Gasol led LA with 22 points, Ron Artest scored 15 and Andrew Bynum added 14 points and nine rebounds. The Lakers backcourt was their downfall as Shannon Brown (8 points) couldn't quite fit Kobe's shoes.
Boston will look to go 3-0 on its West Coast trip with a tough game in Portland this evening. Nate Robinson might make his Celtics debut and we know that Blazers star Brandon Roy is out indefinitely.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
There was an endless amount of story lines surrounding the Boston Celtics as they began the last 30 games of the season last night in Sacramento.
Most pertinent, it was the last game before the trade deadline (which is tomorrow afternoon) so was this the last time we'll see Ray Allen, Eddie House, Tony Allen or Glen Davis in a Celtics uniform?
Will the C's improve or continue to struggle against good teams, building up to the inevitable second round loss in the playoffs this spring?
The good news for one night was that they won 95-92 against a very green Kings (18-35) team featuring the favored rookie of the year, Tyreke Evans (17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists).
Paul Pierce had 17 points for the Celts (33-18) and Ray Allen scored 15 points but Rajon Rondo (4 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), Kevin Garnett (9 points, 9 rebounds) and Kendrick Perkins (6 points, 5 rebounds) were all invisible.
So how did they win you ask? Boston's bench had perhaps its finest performance of the season as they 44 points, led by Rasheed Wallace (17 points), Eddie House (12 points), Marquis Daniels (7 points, 6 rebounds) and Glen Davis (6 points, 8 rebounds).
Games like that will be rare but if the Celtics stand still at the trade deadline, those bench players will need to all bring their games up to gloss over KG, Ray and Perk.
Omri Casspi led the Kings with 19 points, Jason Thompson added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks off the bench while Kevin Martin (another constant trade rumor) was held to 11 points.
The game was tight throughout, with the teams tied at 30 after one quarter and the Celts holding a slim 57-52 halftime lead.
Boston didn't fall apart in the third (19-17) and made enough free throws down the stretch to offset the 3-pointers Sacramento kept hitting.
The four game West Coast trip gets real for the next three games as Boston goes to the Staples Center tomorrow night for a TNT game with the Lakers, Portland on Friday and Denver on Sunday afternoon. Honestly, two wins out of those three would be a miracle considering LA and Denver are the West's two best teams and the Blazers are fighting for a playoff spot.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
With Chris Paul, the NBA's best point guard, the New Orleans Hornets are still a fringe playoff team in the loaded Western Conference. Without him, they're not very good at all but don't tell that to the Celtics, who made them look like world-beaters last night in still drunk New Orleans.
Whatever the excuse: last game before the All-Star break, the players went to the Saints parade and weren't focused, we're aging faster than low-level porn stars, there's no reason that the C's (32-18) should have choked away a 12-point halftime lead and lost to the Hornets (28-25), 93-85.
How bad was it? Morris Peterson had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie point guard Darren Collison dominated (despite 10 turnovers) with 25 points, nine assists and four steals while Peja Stojakovic added 20 points, David West had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Darius Songaila notched 12 points off the bench.
The only four Celtics that came to play were Marquis Daniels (14 points), Tony Allen (13 points, starting for Ray Allen who sat out with back spasms), Rasheed Wallace (13 points) and Glen Davis (9 points in his return home).
Boston head coach Doc Rivers made the puzzling decision to play Paul Pierce despite the fact that he's banged up and clearly needs some rest. Pierce rewarded that terrible move with 15 points and eight turnovers. And even better news is that he wants to compete in the All-Star game this weekend in Dallas. Obviously, you don't expend much energy in an All-Star game but what's the point? It's not like it's in Boston or he's never made one before.
Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett simultaneously had their worst games of the season as they both only scored seven points. Is Kendrick Perkins still alive? Yeah? Does he still play for the C's? The guy that has been masquerading as him lately has been a joke and last night was exhibit A as Perk had three points and seven rebounds against Emeka Okafor, who is terrible in the NBA.
New Orleans was up 29-27 after the first quarter but Boston doubled them up 28-14 in the second quarter to take a 55-43 halftime lead. I don't know what it is but they could not play any worse in the third quarter these days if they tried. I don't know if they're doing shots in the locker room, having some strippers come in or what but they are lifeless in third quarters.
True to form, the Hornets blew them out 29-12 in the third quarter and 21-18 in the fourth.
Rondo, Garnett and Pierce travelled to Dallas after the game and the rest of the team might as well walk home. They start an exceptionally tough four game West Coast trip next week starting with the Kings on Tuesday night. The Celtics need a break and I also would like a respite from this garbage.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Just when you've completely given up on the Boston Bruins, they reel you back in so you can sweat over whether they'll make the playoffs and get swept by the Capitals, Devils or Penguins.
Such is life but at least the B's (25-22-11) have woken up from their dirt nap. They won their second straight, 3-2 in a shootout last night in Buffalo against the Sabres, who have now lost five in a row after a great start to the season.
Fittingly Bruins forward Daniel Paille, a former Sabre, got Boston off to a 2-0 start in the first period with a pair of goals. His first was assisted by Marc Savard and Miroslav Satan while the second was a deflection off Zdeno Chara's shot and Derek Morris' pass started the sequence.
2-0 leads mean nothing to the Bruins as they are useless to protect them. Buffalo tied it up in the second period as Derek Roy scored a power-play goal and Tyler Myers scored with 1:25 left.
For better or worse, this is Tukkaa Rask's time and the young Fin had one of his best games of the season with 42 saves. The B's were outshot in every period but seemed to come alive with a power play in overtime. They didn't score (obviously) but they used that momentum to win the shootout (another foreign concept).
David Krejci finally did something this season as he scored the winning goal.
Boston swings through Florida for two games before the Olympic players head to Vancouver and everyone else goes home for the lengthy Olympic break. The Bruins play at the Lightning tomorrow night.
Monday, February 8, 2010
After a 10-game losing streak, that matched the franchise's worst skid since 1925 (you know your great grandfather was a huge Bruins fan), the B's finally won a game, 3-0 yesterday afternoon at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Marco Sturm scored twice for Boston (24-22-11) and Tukkaa Rask, making his third start in a row, stopped 36 shots for his third shutout of the season.
The B's jumped out to a surprising 2-0 lead in the first period as rookie defenseman Andy McQuaid scored his first NHL goal with 2:28 left, assisted by Marc Savard.
Sturm doubled the Boston advantage when he scored off a rebound (from Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara) with four seconds remaining. His 17th goal of the season was a huge shot of adreneline as the teams went into the dressing rooms.
Rask stood on his head in the second period as Montreal (28-26-6) outshot Boston 15-3.
The fact that the Bruins had choked away two straight 2-0 leads as well as finding nearly every other possible way to lose during the 10-game losing streak, meant that nothing was comfortable until Sturm's second goal went by Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak (24 saves). Assisted by Bergeron once again, Sturm's wrist shot squirted through Halak's pads and lifted the King Kong size monkey off Boston's backs.
They're tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with 59 points and they can move up further tomorrow night in Buffalo. They have three more games until the Olympic break when six of their players will go to Vancouver to play for their home countries.
Remember when the Celtics consistently beat the NBA's best teams? On the road, at home, back-to-back, it didn't matter.
Times have changed as the Celts are still a good team but right now, nobody can say that they're great.
Thanks to a coma in the third quarter (36-11), Boston (32-17) choked away an 11-point halftime lead and lost to the Orlando Magic (34-17) 96-89 yesterday afternoon at the TD Garden.
That wrapped up the season series with the Magic taking it 3-1. Overall, the Celtics are 1-7 against Orlando and Atlanta this season, two teams they are very likely to see in the playoffs.
Vince Carter led Orlando with 20 points and Dwight Howard battled foul trouble but still managed 16 points and 13 rebounds. Jameer Nelson had 15 points, Rashard Lewis scored 14 points and Matt Barnes added 11 points.
Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple double with 17 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Ray Allen added 14 points, Kevin Garnett had 13 points and nine rebounds while Paul Pierce scored 13 after missing the last two games.
Key reserve Marquis Daniels after missing just over two months of action and scored eight points off the bench.
Boston led 24-23 after the first quarter and 51-40 at halftime in one of their best halves of the season. Of course, they juxtaposed this with their usual third quarter/second half meltdown.
The C's outscored the Magic 27-20 in the fourth and cut it down to five points but it was too late. A 19-0 Orlando run in the third quarter, thanks to some great outside shooting, put them in control for the rest of the contest.
Boston has one more game before the All-Star break as they travel to New Orleans (good timing) on Wednesday night to play the Hornets minus star point guard Chris Paul.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
With the pathetic Nets in town on a Friday night and the All-Star break just a few games away, you could feel it in the air: the Celtics were going to come out really slow and then eventually pull away at the end in a game that was way too close than it should be.
I'm not a psychic, and I don't play one on TV but sometimes the NBA is just that easy to predict.
The Celts won 96-87 last night for their third straight win but they actually trailed by one point (73-72) entering the fourth quarter before Eddie House (who scored all 10 of his points in the fourth) heated up and sent the Nets (4-45) packing.
Paul Pierce sat out again and Marquis Daniels is back at practice but he didn't play as well, still there is absolutely no excuse for letting a team that had one road win on the season to hang around like that.
The Wizards at least did a favor for Boston (32-16) as they beat Orlando, allowing the C's to slip back into the number two seed in the Eastern Conference.
Ray Allen led the Green with a game-high 26 points and seven rebounds while Rajon Rondo added what now seems like his customary 17 points, 11 assists and three steals. Kevin Garnett had 10 points and seven rebounds and Glen Davis notched 13 points off the bench.
Brook Lopez scored 19 points for New Jersey. Devin Harris added 17 points and eight assists while Courtney Lee (12 points), Yi Jianlian (10 points) and Jarvis Hayes (10 points) all scored in double-figures.
The Celts spread it around offensively with 26 assists on 36 baskets and they posted 17 fastbreak points.
Orlando comes to the Garden tomorrow afternoon for an appealing Super Bowl matinee. The Celtics owe them some payback after they stole that win back in Orlando a few weeks ago.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Pity poor Dwyane Wade. Sure he won a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, makes more money than I can even imagine and he lives in Miami which last I heard was a decent place to live. He is one of the superstars that will be a free agent this summer, meaning that D-Wade could be out of South Beach and frankly, I don't blame him.
Nobody in the NBA carries his team like Wade. He had a game-high 30 points and season-high 13 assists last night but the Heat (24-25) still lost to the Celtics (31-16), 107-102 at the TD Garden.
Boston was playing without Paul Pierce-it's most dependable, consistent player-and it's been helter skelter this season plus they came in 7-11 since Christmas.
My best friend Joe and I were in the building and we witnessed Rajon Rondo continue his rapid acension to superstar status as he had 22 points, 14 assists, six rebounds and three steals. In his fourth year, Rondo's game has grown by leaps and bounds.
He hit two 3-pointers last night and looked much more confident at the free throw line (8-of-14) even though the final numbers were still weak. It's easy to see that he is the franchise now and when the Big 3 are all gone in a few seasons, everything will be about Rondo.
Ray Allen broke out of his slump with a team-high 23 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists. Kevin Garnett added 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Kendrick Perkins had 13 points and Eddie House notched his finest performance of the season with 16 points off the bench.
Besides Wade, the Heat have no second option. Rafer Alston and Udonis Haslem both scored 15, Michael Beasley (who should be better with his wide range of skills) had 13 points and the washed up duo of Quentin Richardson (12 points) and Jermaine O'Neal (10 points) mostly took up space.
It was tight throughout the contest as Boston led 27-26 after one quarter and 53-51 at the half. Rondo was fouled at the halftime buzzer taking a halfcourt shot by Daequan Cook (Thad Matta is rolling over in his grave). Rondo made two of three for the two-point Celtics lead.
Miami tied it at 74 going into the fourth and the C's pushed it to a 10-point advantage in the fourth before holding on for once and making their free throws down the stretch.
Boston came into the game as the second-worst rebounding team in the league (don't ask me how) but they outrebounded the Heat 41-31, including 15 offensive rebounds. The ball movement for the C's was also top-notch as they recorded 29 assists on 37 baskets.
The dredge of the NBA, the 4-44 New Jersey Nets come to the Garden tomorrow night. Hopefully Boston can take care of them quickly and give the starters some much needed rest.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Last night's game stood out like a sore thumb on the schedule as it matched up the NHL's highest-scoring team (the Washington Capitals) vs. the lowest-scoring team (your Boston Bruins).
The action was entirely predictable as the B's (23-22-9) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period but gave up three third period goals to lose 4-1 at the TD Garden.
The top team in the Eastern Conference and I'd argue the best in the league, Washington (38-12-6) won its franchise-best eleventh game in a row while the hapless Bruins stumbled to their eighth straight defeat.
David Krejci gave Boston the early 1-0 lead with a power-play goal, his 10th of the season, 6:58 into the game from Marc Savard and Dennis Wideman.
Former Bruin Mike Knuble scored his 19th goal (which would make him the team leader for the Bruins) in the second period before Washington's third period finale.
Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon (outstanding name) both scored in the third before Alexander Ovechkin, the two-time reigning MVP, added an empty-netter.
The Capitals' biggest issue is goaltending but the Bruins made Jose Theodore (41 saves) look like Martin Brodeur at the top of his game.
Absolutely everything is going wrong for Boston at this point and injuries are no longer an excuse as Savard, Marco Sturm, Steve Begin and Byron Bitz are all back in the lineup.
Between now and the trade deadline (and keep in mind during the Olympics there's a roster freeze), the Bruins' front office will have to consider whether to make a big move (Ilya Kovalchuk) by dealing some players and draft picks (which they have an abundance of), fire head coach Claude Julien (the wrong call) or just sit and watch the team further implode, if that's even possible.
They host the Canadiens tomorrow night, that bitter rivalry will hopefully breath some life into this lifeless franchise.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
As they found themselves down 54-48 to the Wizards last night at halftime, the Celtics looked to end a three-game losing streak and more importantly, to prove that they're still relevant in the Eastern Conference (since they're behind Cleveland, Orlando and Atlanta) and the NBA.
Yes it is still before the All-Star break but the 2009-2010 season is more than halfway over and Boston is currently facing constant questions about the Big Three and the rest of the team, specifically is their window for a championship closed?
Ultimately the fact that the C's (30-16) won 99-88 at the Verizon Center will soon be forgotten by most except for the diehard fans unless its the start of a good stretch.
Six Celtics scored in double-figures, led by Kevin Garnett (19 points, 6 rebounds), Ray Allen (17 points) and Rajon Rondo (17 points, 12 assists). Paul Pierce had 12 points and eight rebounds but sat for the fourth quarter after hurting his foot at the end of the first half.
Rasheed Wallace scored 14 off the bench and Tony Allen added 10 points and six rebounds.
Between gunfights in the locker room, injuries and employing Flip Saunders (one of the biggest clowns in the NBA) as head coach, to say that the Wizards (16-31) are a mess is quite an understatement.
Amidst the rubble there is still talent, Caron Butler scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds with three steals. Now if we could just find a way to get him for Ray Allen. NBA oddity Earl Boykins scored 14 points off the bench while Mike Miller (13 points, 7 rebounds), Brendan Haywood (12 points) and Nick Young (10 points) also reached double-digits.
Boston started to tear away its recent malaise with a 26-24 third quarter but the championship team showed up for the fourth quarter as they smothered the Wizards, 25-10.
Washington star Antawn Jamison, who has been their best player all season, was held to 2-for-17 shooting.
Boston shot 54.8% while Washington shot 38.9%. The Celts shared the ball (24-15 assist advantage).
The Green come home for another very winnable game tomorrow night against the reeling Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade can always go off for 40+ points but the rest of his team is real boob soft.
Monday, February 1, 2010
With a national audience tuning in on ABC, the Celtics had a chance with a full roster (other than Marquis Daniels-is he still alive?) to show the NBA that they're a dominant team.
Results were mixed as they played well at times (second and third quarter) and fell on their face at the start and in the end when it mattered most.
The Lakers (37-11) walked away with a 90-89 win at the TD Garden yesterday afternoon as Kobe Bryant (19 points, 8-of-20 shooting) hit a contested jumper with 7.3 seconds left to put LA up one and Boston (29-16) could only muster a fadeaway 3-pointer attempt by the buzzer from the ice cold Ray Allen (7 points, 2-of-10 shooting) that bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Kobe is a superstar and even during a bad performance, he still rises up when it matters most and hit the biggest shot of the game. Ray on the other hand, a possible Hall of Famer, is nonetheless rapidly losing his game (shooting) and yet the Celtics seemed to be blind to that fact.
Paul Pierce (15 points), Eddie House (9 points) or Kevin Garnett (10 points) should have taken that shot. Rajon Rondo (21 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds) was another option since he can get to the basket and was having a great game.
One of the most frustrating parts of the NBA is the late-game reliance on 3-pointers and impossible shots. Why not take it to the basket and force the slimy refs to make a call?
Anyways this turned out to be a much more exciting game than it looked like it would be in the first quarter. The Lakers are at the tail end of a long road trip but you couldn't tell as they jumped out to a 30-19 lead. Andrew Bynum (19 points, 11 rebounds) was a beast inside.
Strangely enough, the Celtics received their biggest spark and stayed in the game based on the contributions from its most up and down player, Tony Allen. His roller coaster game was at its best as he scored 14 points, continually taking it to the hoop against LA's suspect defense.
Rondo also got going with nine points and eight assists in the second quarter alone as the Celts cruised to a 52-47 halftime lead.
Boston outscored LA 21-19 in the third quarter and looked like they had the win in hand after House drained a three to put the Celtics up 11 early in the fourth quarter. However, since its Christmas day win in Orlando, Boston has not been able to handle fourth quarter leads and yesterday was no different as Pau Gasol (11 points, 11 rebounds), Ron Artest (11 points) and the Lakers took the fourth 24-16.
Other than Kobe's clutch shot, a shaky offensive foul on Pierce with the Celts up one and with under a minute left was the second biggest play of the game. It was a weak call at a critical moment but you have to expect that in the NBA and furthermore, the Celtics didn't deserve to win since they crumbled in the fourth quarter.
After losing all three games to Orlando, Atlanta and Los Angeles, the Celts go to DC tonight for what is basically a must-win. The Wizards are bad and Boston needs some type of positive momentum to build on before the All-Star break.