Game 7 of the NBA Finals this was not! However this Lakers vs Celtics game was early affirmation of the not so silent speculation that had the Celtics been healthy, the 2010 NBA Finals would have been different. The past is the past but the rivalry broods despite the assent of other championship contenders (Miami, Orlando, San Antonio, and Chicago to name a few). So much so that both teams entered the game coming off losses to non-playoff teams Friday night as they were looking ahead to Sunday’s Finals rematch. The game did not disappoint (unless you root for L.A.) as the Celtics handed the Lakers a 2nd straight loss by a score of 109-96. The game was closer than the score indicated but how the Celtics won was the real story.
Kobe Bryant reportedly came to the arena 5 hours early besting Ray Allen’s customary 4 hour early preparation time. “Mamba’s” dedication to his craft and to this game was evidenced throughout as he scored a season best 41 points with 0 assists. The Celtics decided to play Kobe one on one with Paul Pierce, Allen, and Marquis Daniels at times. This allowed Team Green to keep bodies on the Laker bigs and limit the Lakers to only 10 offensive rebounds. Ten seems like a lot but its a far cry from the 23 they gave up in Game 7 of the Finals, and the Lakers racked up most of those ten on 3 separate possessions. The Celtics out rebounded L.A 43-30 overall with no Laker reaching double digits on the boards. Another key to this victory was the offensive efficiency the Celtics showed shooting a blistering 60% with 34 assists on 44 made field goals. The offensive charge was lead by Pierce who paced Boston with 32 points followed by Allen’s 21 points. Kevin Garnett tallied 18pts, 13rebs, and 5ast while Rajon Rondo orchestrated the offense with 16 assists. The C’s were further helped by “Shrek and Donkey” (Glen Davis and Nate Robinson) who combined for 24 points off the bench and their contributions were timely. Robinson finally provided useful minutes while Rondo rested and played well with Rondo for stretches without defensive incident.
The game’s flow at times was chippy and foul plagued. Allen and Bryant both sat out most of the first quarter picking up 2 quick fouls each. Garnett was the the recipient of a Pau Gasol elbow to the head at the 6:28 mark of the 2nd quarter. He left the game briefly as he bled like a boxer after the blow. After some of the early un-pleasantries subsided it became a game of runs. Boston led 22-21 after the first quarter only to watch the Lakers respond with a 13-2 run to open the 2nd quarter. The Lakers led 54-50 at half time behind Kobe’s super aggressive play and 22 points going into the break. The Celtics opened the 3rd quarter with an 8-0 run to regain the lead and were buoyed by Pierce’s 14 points in the quarter, taking a lead of 77-72 into the final frame. With Boston ahead 89-80 with 7:12 left in the game, Bryant went on his own 7-2 run to bring the Lakers to 87-91 with 5:19 to play. Kobe was walking with that “swag”, cocking his head with tongue wagging in mouth as only he can affirming how hot he was. One could sense that the Lakers comeback was in full effect behind Bryant’s body language. Fortunately the rest of Kobe’s teammates were not with him in his aggression and belief. The Celtics staying poised despite Bryant’s onslaught and closed the game with an 18-9 run that sealed the victory.
Boston travels to Sacramento on Tuesday to face the improving Kings who stunned the Lakers on Friday 100-95. Team Green would be wise to not get to high on this statement victory as Sacramento would like nothing more than to notch another win over another NBA elite team. Not so incidentally the Lakers and Celtics meet again Thursday,February 10 at 8pm on TNT where the Lakers will be looking for their shot at redemption.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com