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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hey It Could Always Be Worse: The Celtics Are Way Better than the Lakers

Just like in life, sometimes in sports you need the occasional reminder that as bad as things may temporarily appear, there is always another player/team/fan base/city that has it much worse. That truism was on display tonight at TD Garden as the NBA's former greatest rivalry played not on national TV (when does that ever happen?) as the Celtics (6-11 overall, 4-7 home) beat the Lakers (5-15 overall, 3-7 away) 113-96.

It is easy to get depressed regarding the Celts, believe me that's why I rarely write about their soul-crushing defeats, but seeing LA up close was a reminder that they are in much worse shape both this season and going forward. Love him or hate him, I think most would have to admit that Kobe Bryant (22 points) is one of the greatest players of all-time in the NBA. In his 18th season and at age 36, he's still very good but the issue is that Los Angeles has surrounded him with a bunch of stiffs and nobodies, many of whom would be better served playing in the NBDL or on the Sixers.

LA's next highest scorer was Nick Young who had 16 points off the bench. Harvard's Jeremy Lin added 14 points, Jordan Hill notched 13 points and Wayne Ellington came in with 11 points off the bench. That's it, Carlos Boozer and Wesley Johnson who both started combined for two points. Haha how is that possible? The Lakers are stuck with Kobe for next year but other than rigging the lottery (miss you David Stern!), it's hard to figure how they'll work themselves out of this pickle.

Every Boston starter had at least 12 points led by Tyler Zeller with his career-high 24 points and 14 rebounds. Rajon Rondo barely missed out on a triple-double (12 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds), Jared Sullinger had a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals), Jeff Green scored 19 points and Avery Bradley rounded out the group with 16 points. The Celtics only got 25 total points from its bench but it obviously didn't cost them.

Coupled with Wednesday's overtime win vs. Detroit, this is only the second time this season that the C's have won two games in a row. The Celts got off to a good start, leading 30-20 after the first quarter. The Lakers cut it to 53-48 by halftime but then Boston hit them with a third quarter similar to the first (33-22). Normally, no lead is safe when the Celtics are in front but the Lakers are the rare exception where you can overlook them. Boston outscored LA 27-26 in the fourth.

When you see the final numbers, it is kind of amazing that the Lakers were even able to keep it relatively close for a while. Boston shot 9.8% better from the field (51.1-41.3%), grabbed 16 more rebounds (54-38), dished out more than twice as many assists (29-14) and made three times as many steals (6-2). As if that wasn't enough, the Celts also scored 20 more fast break points (27-7) and eight more points in the paint (54-46).

The next game for the Celtics should look way different since the Wizards (13-5 overall, 1st in Southeast Division) come to the Garden on Sunday afternoon (1, CSN) as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. If it inevitably gets ugly, the C's should take heart in the fact that nobody but their friends and family will be watching on an NFL Sunday and with the Revolution in the 2014 MLS Cup that same afternoon (3, ESPN).

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