Thursday, February 9, 2012
Lakers Survive 88-87 In OT Against Celtics
Well you can't say that the Boston Celtics didn't have many chances to beat the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at TD Garden.
In the first of two regular season meetings in the NBA's best rivalry, the Celts (14-11) squandered three chances to win it: once in regulation and twice in overtime as they fell 88-87 to the Lakers (15-11).
Boston's five-game winning streak was snapped and Los Angeles has now won four straight at the Garden. The Celtics will visit the Staples Center on March 11 (a Sunday afternoon) in the only other game this season. I'd pray for a Boston-Los Angeles NBA Finals but I think Celtics-Clippers is more likely than Celtics-Lakers.
After Pau Gasol (25 points, 14 rebounds) tied it up late with an offensive rebound and putback, the Celtics had a chance for basketball's version of a walk-off win. Yet for some reason, they went for a 3-pointer (even though it was tied) and Mickael Pietrus (9 points) was the guy that took the last shot in regulation. His prayer didn't have a shot of going in.
In overtime, Paul Pierce (18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) could have put Boston up by one but his jumper fell short. Ray Allen (22 points, 6 rebounds) got the rebound but his last-second layup attempt was swatted away by Gasol. It was a frenetic finish to an overall sloppy but entertaining contest.
There are two main reasons why the Celtics lost: 1) they attempted five free throws in 53 minutes. I didn't know that was possible in the NBA and at home. 2) Kevin Garnett (12 points, 12 rebounds) was an ice cold 6 of 23 from the floor.
Andrew Bynum had 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in the win while Matt Barnes had 11 off the bench for Los Angeles. Former Celtics great Troy Murphy had nine rebounds.
Rajon Rondo-the subject of an absurd Bynum for Rondo trade rumor-had 14 points and seven assists. Brandon Bass had eight points and five rebounds off the bench.
These teams helped to point out the other's glaring weakness: LA is going nowhere with Derek Fisher (0 points, 2 assists) and Steve Blake (5 points) as its main point guards. Likewise, Boston still lacks a center with a pulse as Jermaine O'Neal (2 points, 6 rebounds) was toasted by the best power forward-center combination in the NBA (Bynum and Gasol).
The 2012 NBA All-Star game reserves were announced today and only Pierce was named from the Celtics. It's the 10th time he's made it. Garnett missed out after making 14 in a row. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Rondo and/or Allen are injury replacements since other guys in the East are bound to get hurt with two weeks left before All-Star weekend in Orlando.
The Celts hit five more threes (6-1) but the Lakers hit 10 more free throws (15-5) and grabbed 10 more rebounds (55-45). Boston had nine more assists (22-13) and 11 more fast break points (17-6). LA had eight more points in the paint (46-38) and five more points off turnovers (13-8).
Boston led 26-22 after one quarter and 47-45 at halftime. Los Angeles went ahead with a solid third quarter (22-17) but the Celts (18-15) rallied in the fourth.
It's a quick turnaround, welcome to the NBA in 2011-12, as the Celtics go to Toronto to face the Raptors tomorrow night. Even with old legs and short rest, I expect Boston to throttle Toronto, an awful team that they've already dominated twice this season.