Sunday, March 11, 2012
Lakers Close On A 8-0 Run To Steal Another One From The Celtics
For the second time this season, the Boston Celtics had a great opportunity to knock off the Los Angeles Lakers. Sadly, this afternoon's game ended the same way-with a Boston loss-although this one turned out to be even more bitter.
The Celtics (21-19, 5-11 on the road) went scoreless for the final 2:41 and as a result, they choked away a 94-89 lead. The Lakers (25-16, 18-2 at home) scored the final eight points (four points by Kobe Bryant and four points by Andrew Bynum) to snatch a 97-94 win at the Staples Center.
This would have been such a meaningful victory for the C's based on the opponent and the fact that it started a pivotal eight-game road trip.
With a severe lack of big men due to the fact that Jermaine O'Neal (possible wrist surgery) and Chris Wilcox (heart problems) could be out for the season, the Celts deserved better since they rallied from a 15-point deficit (37-22) midway through the second quarter.
Bryant (26 points, 7 assists), Bynum (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (13 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists) had their usual big games against Boston but I would say the key for Los Angeles was Ron Artest. He had 14 points including three 3-pointers and he seemed to be fully engaged for once especially after him and Paul Pierce (13 points, 9 assists, 3 steals) got into a shoving match for old time's sake.
Rajon Rondo (24 points, 10 assists) toasted the corpse of Derek Fisher (9 points) but what else do you expect? Ray Allen (17 points, 6 assists), Kevin Garnett (14 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Brandon Bass (15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) all did enough to win.
You can't say Boston didn't have its chances down the stretch as Garnett, Allen (twice), Bass, Pierce and Rondo all missed shots during that fatal dry spell that ended it.
In front of Tom Brady sitting courtside in hipster glasses-it is LA-the Lakers jumped out to a 24-14 lead after one quarter. Miraculously, the Celtics cut it to 44-42 at halftime. Boston trailed 72-70 heading into the fourth.
Los Angeles shot a little better (50.7%-47%), they hit two more 3-pointers (8-6) and seven more free throws (17-10), they also grabbed eight more rebounds (42-34). Boston stayed in it by playing more unselfishly. They had eight more assists (33-25), three more steals (11-8), five more blocks (8-3) and five less turnovers (17-12). Somehow the Celtics had 13 more fast break points (21-8) but the Lakers had 12 more points in the paint (42-30).
It's a shame that the NBA's best rivalry won't be revisited this season barring a very unlikely meeting in the Finals. I hate the NBA but it doesn't get any better than Celtics-Lakers, today was very entertaining despite the fact that I was worried it would carry over into the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament selection show (it did).
The Celtics don't have to leave their hotels for their next game as they face the Clippers (23-16) tomorrow night back at the Staples Center. If you've turned on ESPN in the last three months, you know all about them. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they're fun to watch plus with a collection of talented role players (DeAndre Jordan, Mo Williams, Reggie Evans, Caron Butler, Kenyon Martin) around them, they have quickly become a solid team. Boston will have its hands full even though the Clippers lost tonight 97-93 to the Warriors.