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Stomach Punch: Lakers 90, C’s 89

 

3 big games. 3 brutal losses. The C’s played their best ball of the season in the 2nd quarter of this one, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the C’s once again showed an inability to close out a superior opponent once again. There was plenty of good to take out of this game, but you have to give credit where credit is due. The Lakers fought back from an 11 point 4th quarter deficit and the C’s recurring problems cropped up as the Lakers did just enough down the stretch to take a 1 point lead with Kobe Bryant draining a jumper in Ray Allen’s face at the top of the key.

The Lakers executed on both sides of the ball, scoring on their final 3 possessions while also limiting the Green to just 5 points in the final 6:40 of this contest, drawing a critical offensive foul on Paul Pierce with a pushoff with 30 seconds left and playing smart defense on the C’s final possession, rotating over to a rolling Ray Allen off his feed from Paul Pierce which forced a tough look from downtown that rimmed out.

So what do they make of all this? I’m not quite sure. The C’s showed they could play with and dominate the best team in the game for large portions of this one. Once again, sustaining it was the problem. The good news is that the defense was probably as good as it has been all season in the final 3 quarters and despite how bitter this loss will be for a team that desperately needed it, the pros you take out of this game outweigh the cons for me in my book. Large problems loom…..but the C’s hung with the Champs. They just need to remember how to do it when it counts.

Before we get to the bullets let’s take a look at the how the C’s fared with their two fatal flaws this year, rebounds and turnovers.

First, the good news. Rebounding. The Lakers are a slightly above average team on the the glass, and the C’s had one of their better efforts this season on the glass on both ends off the floor. They won the overall battle 39-36 as well as the offensive glass 10 to 8. Those numbers won’t blow you out of the water, but given the struggles in the team’s last two contests (-15 vs. Orlando, -4 vs. Atlanta) it’s a step in the right direction.

Perk and KG did well to hold their own down low against LA’s big guys, and with the C’s most active rebounding team (Rondo, TA and Big Baby) getting major minutes together in the 1st half, it paid off dividends. The C’s seemed more focused though in this area with their box out and positioning so my guess is Doc made it a point of emphasis before this game. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend, rather than an anomaly.

Now the bad news. Those turnovers. They killed the C’s as always at both ends of this game. 7 miscues in the first quarter helped the C’s spot LA to an 11 point lead and a subpar 19 point showing. Same old story.

Then came the magical 2nd quarter and the C’s played the most beautiful basketball that we have seen all year. Now there were a lot of things that went right in the frame in which Boston outscored LA by a 33-17 note, while bringing back subtle memories of the game 6 massacre from the 2008 Finals. Turnovers in this frame? 2. And those both came in the final couple minutes of the frame when the Lakers closed a double digit deficit to 5.

Unsurprisingly, the 2nd quarter was an aberration turnovers wise, as the C’s finished with 18 overall during the game. As Zach Lowe mentioned, that’s too many and the C’s to be perfectly honest aren’t good enough in other facets of the game right now to get away with that number against an elite opponent like the Lakers.

In the 2nd half, it was fewer of the careless mistakes that did the C’s in, but rather the offensive fouls that created most of the problems, with 3 in the 2nd half, including the crucial call on Paul Pierce with 30 seconds left. Say what you want about the call, Ron Artest did some selling, but Pierce still did push off, and he caught at the wrong time.

* Speaking of the 4th quarter, the C’s were only able to put up a paltry 16 points in the frame, including just a pathetic 5 point showing in the final 6:42. What slowed down the C’s and forced them to squander away an 11 point lead in the final 10 minutes? A passive and isolation centered offense in the closing moments along with some stepped up D from LA. Rondo and the C’s stopped attacking the basket and instead were happy to wing the clock down in 1 on 1 situations which led to some average looks from the perimeter away from the perimeter. The C’s are at their best as we saw today when they are attacking both in transition and the half court. In the 4th quarter they did neither, and it cost them the game.

*Some quick thoughts on the final play call. I liked the idea, but Doc tried to get a little too cute here in my opinion. I was a fan of the pick and roll with Paul and Ray but it looked like Paul had the better shot at the elbow with a couple seconds remaining before he made the tough cross court pass to Ray Allen. The Lakers switched well on the play, almost seemingly expecting the pass and Lamar Odom got over and made sure the 3 point shot wasn’t an easy look.

Tough to second guess Doc too much here, given how well he plans end of the game plays, but it would have been nice to see

1) A play going towards the hoop, giving the C’s were down only 1
2) A quicker developing play that would have left some time remaining to give the C’s a chance at an offensive rebound

All in all a tough pill to swallow but the absence of Rajon Rondo on that play loomed large in showing how much less he had been attacking in the 4th quarter.

Even more on the way….

  • LAKERS FAN

    Champs over chumps.

    Enjoy the video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le5aIqn_MfE

  • Jade

    That was oso PAINFUL. Celtics gotta hold on to their leads.

    @LakersFan. Dont you worry bud, the Celtics will kick your butt in the long run.

    (0_-)

  • CelticFan from LA

    I’m a big celtic fan though born and raised in LA. And been a fan through it all.
    But what I’ve been noticing is that Rondo is more and more becoming the first option on the team. In this Lakers game (and coincidentally in a lot of other games they have lost) Rondo has taken the most shots on the Celtics side. Now I realize its because opposing teams are challenging (and borderline mocking him to take jumpers) but though he is putting up bigger numbers, can it possibly be coming at the expense of the Number 1, 2 and 3 scoring options that should be taking those shots and finding their rhythm?? I would much rather Pierce or Allen take 16 shots and go under .500 yet find their grove so that when Allen or Pierce or KG needs to take that game winner their in the zone and ready.

    I love rondo and am not trying to put him down or making him sound over rated, but I still think our Big 3 are who will carry us in the clutch and we need to utilize them first before our 4th option. It’s great to have Rondo show up and be the scoring leader on certain nights, I just don’t think he can be that person every night while Pierce or Allen or (healthy) KG can EVERY Night and in the clutch.

    Just my 2 cents…. would be interested in hearing the experts opinions on it…

  • kehn

    Do you guys think it was a mistake to not put in Rondo at the end? It’s not like we could stop him all game. Also seeing as how he had 12 assists, he was also doing a great job facilitating. My biggest fear coming in was Rondo vs. a Laker defense that has done everything well but PG defense and that played out like we were afraid it would. It seemed like you guys went away from Tony Allen and Rondo who respectively kept Boston in the game and then blew it open in the 2nd/3rd quarters. Is that a fair statement and if so how much of that would you put on Doc?

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I think the Cs thought they would be really clever & surprise LA with that last shot. That is exactly the shot LA wanted them to take, a deep, contested 3. Everyone in the universe knows that the further you get from the basket the less likely you are to make the shot. Even preschoolers can tell you that. All you needed was a deuce. Ray is not having a good shooting year, but let’s live in the past & act like he is. Today Ray was having a terrible shooting day, 2-10. Everyone can have bad shooting days, but shouldn’t WHOEVER is having a good shooting day take that shot? So the choice was let’s get it to the guy who is shooting 20% today for a deep jumper. I am at a loss for words at just how stupid that was.

    The Cs really suck when they try to milk the clock. There is no other way to describe it. They become highly predictable & much more easily guarded. When Rondo was pushing the ball it was a whole different ballgame. Then, we go into tortoise mode & loose all sense or rhythm & flow. Will Doc let them play at the faster pace (which got them back into the game & got them the lead) till the very end in the future? Or we will have to continue to see these meltdowns?

    I would agree that Paul & Ray should get more shots IF #1 they were making shots #2 Rondo was missing shots. Rondo should have taken more shots today. TA should have taken more shots. Whoever is shooting well should keep getting the ball.

  • I love Green

    I can no longer watch Celtics games. Hurts too much to lose games like these.

    Can the playoffs come any sooner?

  • John

    I know it’s your job to find the silver lining from game to game and weigh it against the cons, but what is there to like about this Cs team right now? Seriously, anything at all? They are NOT even a playoff team at this point. As of now, the Celts are a first round elimination lock. Guaranteed. By playoff time they’ll be even more old, tired and likely to disappear in the 4th quarter. The entire team is one big headache. Frustrating.

  • LAKERS FAN

    The problem with you guys this year is simple . . . you need a puppet. We’ve got a puppet, and Cleveland’s got a puppet (look at our records) why don’t you have one?

    BTW I’m going to leve that video link for you one more time, in case you didn’t catch it the first time. Go Lakers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le5aIqn_MfE

  • arjay411

    OUCH KOBE OUCH. KOBE IS DEFINITELY THE M.V.P. / G.O.A.T.

  • arjay411

    I can’t believe a 50% Kobe pulled that amazing shot. just isn’t fair.

  • celtics fan

    can someone explain what a “puppet” is?

  • Cptn Bubbles

    “puppet” refers to the nike tv ads of Lebron & Kobe as puppets selling their shoes.

  • celtics fan

    wow, only from a lakers fan

  • Rocci

    Bubbles, I completely agree. It is unbelievably awful to watch the offense just completely stall out halfway through the fourth quarter, and the pain seems completely self-inflicted. I’d love to see some efficiency stats broken down for us comparing the first 3 quarters and the 4th quarter, especially over the past month for the Celts.

  • Rocci

    On a side note, is there any way to ban that clown Lakers troll who keeps commenting here?

  • Kobe Bryant

    Celtics Fans,

    Well, it had to happen that way. I’m sorry. I’m sure you thought I couldn’t do it again, but I did – and so did my team. It’s too bad you won’t be able to meet us in June, but at least you can watch on t.v. Hey, at least your big three got one title. In two years we’ll have 17, too and guess what? The year after we’ll get 18 and then you’ll have absolutely nothing to hang your east coast drunk Irish ugly green hats on. Enjoy the rest of your (cough) season.

  • joe

    ray allen needs to retire…its getting embarrassing…..he’s got nothing left…why is everyone afraid to call him out?

  • lkr_lrkr

    Laker fan posting here, but I promise to be respectful…

    I thought Rajon Rondo was definitely THE MVP of the 2nd & 3rd quarters.

    However, I also thought his (considerably worse) play in the 4th contributed greatly to the Cs offensive collapse (turnovers, isolations, indecisiveness, etc.).

    To those who say he should have had the ball in his hands on the last posession, I say, watch the 4th quarter again.

    Agree or disagree?

  • Jay P

    I agree, and I don’t understand what happens with them late in games. Why they continue to get away from what was working so well all game baffles me.

    It’s like they come into crunch time and just lose all faith in Rondo, then we realize… oh wait, Paul Pierce isn’t 25 anymore, and can’t blow past defenders and create his own shots like he used to.

    I don’t blame Rondo for sloppy fourth quarter performance, I blame the rest of the guys for not helping him out, especially in a game where they should have been plenty rested… because let’s be honest, the bench flat out carried them for much of the 2nd-3rd quarter. No excuse for it, it’s obvious their not in game shape right now.

    But I’m not hitting the panic button yet, it’s a long season, we’ll see how they come out of the All star break, if they do it with any urgency, it can be a whole new team in the second half.

  • Conall Mac Michael

    Kobe Bryant, cut out the Irish comments.

  • Lee

    I think we also sorely miss KG’s pick and pop 18 footers…those easy points make a huge difference, and adds extra options while drawing out either Gasol or Bynum from the paint.

  • KOD

    Easy Laker trolls – last time I checked no team ever won a title in January. But congratulations for getting the game handed to you by the officials, who got punked by a ridiculous Ron Artest flop. Another typically awful game by the NBA refs. If KG and the Celtics are somehow healthy in the Spring, then a meaningful matchup between these 2 teams could possibly take place.

    And remember Faker trolls, the last time these teams met in the Finals, the Celtics prevailed, Pierce outdueled Kobe, and a 39 point blowout in the clincher was the nail in the coffin. Had KG been playing last year in the playoffs – the Lakers would have been victimized yet again. Believe that. So as far as Celtics fans are concerned, your title last year has an asterik that reads *Lakers won by default only because the Celtics didn’t have KG in the playoffs.

  • lakeshow

    “Had KG been playing last year in the playoffs – the Lakers would have been victimized yet again. Believe that.”

    Old teams have injuries – believe it. Ainge put together a great team on the downside of it’s prime and anything they do is based on health. Mine’s as hypothetical as yours, but a healthy Bynum and Ariza make all the difference the year before and the Lakers would swamp the Celts last year. That was ez, right?

    Laker’s main health problem right now is Kobe’s (who’s 31) ankle and knee issues and a broken index finger on his shooting hand but, so right now he’s probably only one of the 2 or 3 best players in the league.

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