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Turning Point? C’s 87, Lakers 86

 

Forum Blue and Gold

There are a number of reasons not to get too excited about this win if you are a Celtics fan. The C’s beat LA, but they didn’t have Kobe. They still had the 2nd half collapse and couldn’t score when it mattered in the 4th quarter. The C’s undoubtedly just got “lucky” tonight. That’s one assuredly fair assessment of this contest.

Of course, for every point, there is a counterpoint. Yes, the Celtics beat the Lakers without number 24, but this was the same Kobe-less team that crushed Utah, easily the hottest team in the league last week on the road. Yes, the Celtics collapsed in the early part of the 4th quarter but they did not fold altogether. Instead, they held the Lakers to just 2 points in the final 7:13, enabling them to escape Staples Center with a one point win.

They showed the mental toughness to handle the adversity that lay before them in the final 12 minutes.They battled hard on both sides of the floor until the bitter end, when Ray Allen stripped Derek Fisher, forcing him to throw up a prayer that had no chance in the final 2 seconds of this contest. 11 points on offense in the 4th quarter wasn’t pretty, but it was a better 11 points than we’ve seen in previous contests if that can be possible.

Sure, there were major problems on the offensive end, but the C’s maintained their aggressiveness and kept attacking the basket despite their struggles. In turn, they felt the repercussions of the officials swallowing their whistles (on both ends undoubtedly) at the end of this one, took some bad shots all the while, but also some good ones too that just didn’t go down. In the past few weeks, those kind of missed opportunities kept this team from victory. Tonight was a different story.

They did not become discouraged when faced with these struggles. Instead, they buckled down the old fashioned way, the Championship Celtic way, winning the game with defense. Everyone pitched it and came through when it mattered. It wasn’t pretty but it usually isn’t going to be for this team when they beat elite competition. Style points don’t count in the NBA. Wins do.

I was chatting with Brendan Jackson throughout the conclusion of this game. The C’s were clinging to a 1 point lead with just over 3 minutes left, Paul Pierce had just missed 2 crucial free throws. I remained surprisingly confident, despite the bad fortune, informing Brendan there is no way the Celtics lose this game.

The veteran savvy, the swagger, the grittyness was apparent with this team tonight. They didn’t panic, and they showed a confidence I hadn’t seen for weeks. They kicked it up a gear and pulled out a win against elite competition they so desperately needed. Was it a turning point? It’s too early to tell in all likelihood. But if the Celtics make a deep run this year, look bad to this game as the one where they started to put it altogether again.

Quick bullets here with much more to come tomorrow.

* Ray Allen showing why he still has to be considered one of the best shooters in the game. He just carried the team for 3 quarters. Went cold down the stretch, but that seemed to be more due to tougher defense by the Lakers on him, as well as tired legs given his 41 minutes. 24 points overall.  So nice to see a night like this from Ray, after he had struggled for so long, in the face of all the rumors. His defense too was terrific down the stretch on Fisher and on the Lakers 2nd to last possession, forcing a turnover after the Gasol pass.  Brendan Jackson has more on Ray in the DailyDime today.  Check it out.

* Can’t say enough about Perk’s play in the 4th quarter. Kudos to Doc for finally giving him the run late in games he deserved. If nothing else, this team needs his D more than anything else late in contests and he did a fantastic job on Bynum and Gasol in the 4th quarter. Huge help block on Artest as well in the final couple minutes.

Perk also regained his confidence around the bucket tonight, coming up big with a layup plus the foul to put a stop to Lakers 13-0 run in the 4th quarter. Great putback dunk as well in closing minutes. All in all, shows how much more dangerous C’s can be when Perk becomes a capable offensive player out there around the basket.

* Bench was bad tonight, could have really used TA’s energy after he went down. Marquis Daniels coming through with the turning point of game, drawing an offensive foul on Odom in midst of 13-0 Laker run. C’s came down and got a bucket after that foul call, closing the deficit to 1. Under the radar play, but a much needed play by the veteran.

* KG still isn’t back, but showed more flashes tonight athletically than we’ve seen in awhile. Seeing any signs of him getting back to where he was back in December before the hyperextended knee is huge in my book. We saw that for the first time this evening. His jumper was definitely not on down the stretch though.

* I hate Sasha Vujacic

* Refs swallowed their whistles for the 4th quarter and I can’t say i minded it too much. Reminded me of a good playoff game. Pierce definitely deserved a foul call on his drive to the hoop in the closing seconds however.

* Rondo had great numbers tonight (14 and 11) but his 4th quarter inconsistency makes it very hard on this team.

* Tonight’s 4th quarter offensive effort makes me very excited to see an explosive offensive player like Nate Robinson join this team. Don’t be surprised to see him take Rondo’s crunch time minutes before too long if he is hot or Rondo isn’t attacking/shooting confidently like tonight.

* Only 10 turnovers tonight! And just 5 from the starters! Amazing!

* Minutes were as good as Doc could have been with them tonight. TA getting hurt and the team being shorthanded without Eddie hurt a lot obviously. Tomorrow will be rough in Portland, but hopefully the team will ride the momentum. Nate Robinson in uniform would help a great deal as well. Doc didn’t sound optimistic after the game that he would get there in time, but my money says the C’s will find a way to get him out there. If not, C’s will be down to 10 players if TA can’t go. And two of those players are Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams. Hurry up Nate!

That’s it for tonight, much more tomorrow. For now, a very satisfying win at the end of a long day.

  • Jason

    Doc is going to lose this team games in the postseason. Even when Pierce was Pierce, it was losing strategy for him to dominate the ball. Now, it’s plain retarded. That was plain retarded. Rondo wasn’t doing a lot, but it was still more than Pierce. Also, Ray was on fire. He barely touched the ball in the clutch. KG’s J almost cost the game. It’s been bad for a few games. However, seeing him sky for a rebound about a foot higher than I’ve seen in awhile, well, it’s one play, but it was like “Yeah, there’s KG.” He had some determined post moves, too, which is always good to see. And a few other true KG moments in the second half, too. That’s what I think I’ll remember most about this game, especially if it does turn out to be a turning point. And not that I needed this game, but this team is absolutely rudderless with Rondo on the bench. It’s abominable. Welcome Nate.

    I’ll remember the horrid officiating, too, but what’s new?

    Lots of people (trolls and mindless talking heads) will say the Cs did it against a Kobe-less team. First, that Kobe-less team pounded a few good teams recently. Second, not that Kobe isn’t obviously a good player, but Gasol, Lamar and Bynum are really good, too. They’ve shown it before. They’ve shown it tonight. Basically, Kobe takes 25 shots, that’s 25 they all don’t get. And they’re probably more efficient players than Kobe is. So, basically if anyone says the following “If the Cs can barely beat the Lakers without Kobe, they have no chance beating them with Kobe.” Ignore these people. They are idiots.

    Farmar, Brown, Fisher, Sasha. Wow, what a worthless backcourt. And thank goodness. The Lakers are probably about as good as they will be this year. The Cs have a lot of room to improve. Ray could work back to form. Nice start btw Ray. Sheed *could* start getting his wind and dedicating himself to the post more. Marquis obviously is not in top form. Enter Nate and what he can do for the team. KG’s legs could still regain some life. Again, nice show of that tonight. Pierce. I don’t know it is. Is it injury or decline? I hope he’s just working his way back into shape. BBD’s basically still in the first half of the season.

    Anyway, Lakers are a finished product and how nice for them. The Cs certainly can still close the gap. Tonight was a good sign. Hopefully, it’s a not a once per month performance.

  • Dan

    As much as it hurts to say it, I agree. The problem with the C’s offense lately has been Pierce. When he was boxing out Artest at halfcourt with 10 seconds left, did anyone actually think the C’s would score? If it wasn’t for some poor officiating and the corpse of Derek Fischer, this would have been another blown lead.

  • rondoislove

    Not to mention Pierce’s missed free throws tonight! Whomp whomp. He truly has been disappointing tonight. I’m hoping it’s… a first half season slump. I was also a little annoyed/frustrated that Rondo wasn’t getting more action, considering the fact that the Lakers’ weakness is speedy point guards who aren’t afraid to take it to the rim… AKA RONDO. But whatever. For the time being.. a win is a win.

    C’s beat a Kobe-less Laker team, but they beat a KG-less Celtic team last season and still gloated about it. “Injuries are part of the game and are no excuse” was their saying last year when our troops struggled in the playoffs. They’re also the ones who complained that they didn’t have Bynum during the 2008 Finals and that it would’ve been different had he been there.

    Laker fans will also complain about the refs missing the timeout call so late in the game… but truthfully, it makes up for the should-have-been double technicals on Sheed and Gasol as well as the somewhat unfair technical on Rondo (how on earth are you going to call someone for taunting when their opponent has a team full of people who taunt after every shot?).

    P.S. — ONLY 10 TURNOVERS TONIGHT! That’s a huge plus.

  • rondoislove

    Also… I sure hope Ray’s found his stroke. I sure have missed it!

  • Kit

    Great win…

  • LAKERS FAN

    Close one, I’m not going to rub it in anyone’s face that we didn’t have Kobe. Good win by you guys.

  • SteveA

    good win tonight for the C’s. living overseas, i’m relegated to watching the ESPN gamecast. while there’s so much i’m missing by not watching the game live, i have to say that i was absolutely dismayed to see the shot chart for the third and fourth quarters…jumpshot, jumpshot, jumpshot. I still don’t understand what happens to this team in the 2nd half, but here’s hoping that Nate will stir things up, take it to the hoop, and get this team out of the doldrums!

  • sal

    “* I hate Sasha Vujacic”

    I cannot agree with you more. I think you should create a list of players most hated by celtics fans, not a list of players that we hate cuz there so good, but a list of annoying punk asses. My list goes like this:

    1. Sasha (this is the guy whos started the boycott of the color green in LA. I hate this guy)
    2.Varejo (all im gonna say is get an effin haircut)
    3. Jamal Crawford (i dont want to remind myself)
    4. Artest & Bowen (they count as one annoyance unit cuz the way they lock down pierce brings out the inner most anger within me)
    5.Al Horford (This guys comments about the celtics never cease to amaze me. He’s a disrespectful piece of crap and should learn to respect his elders)

  • Jay P

    I expect offensive troubles from this team, it’s obvious they don’t have their rhythm. Pierce and KG are still working themselves into playing shape, dealing with those lingering injuries, and still haven’t reached full form.

    But that makes the “Pierce isolation” nonsense so much more infuriating, it’s obvious it’s not work, it’s obvious Pierce doesn’t have in it him right now to be the go to guy in the clutch he used to be. Get the ball in Rondo’s hands and let him create for gods sakes.

    All that being said, this was the most consistent, energetic and hard fought defensive efforts we’ve seen from this time since Christmas in Orlando. The crunch time defense was stifling. KG looked like his old self on the boards, his intensity was at a level we haven’t seen since 2008. Perk did a fantastic job on Gasol, the entire team looked hungry on defense the whole night, and with only very few lapses (the one exception being early in the 4th, when LA went with that speed line up, a fantastic move by Phil Jackson that caught the Cs off-guard and before they knew what was happening had blown an 11 point lead…nice to have a coach who knows what he’s doing huh?)

    All in all, a solid effort, and it warms my heart to see Ray show he’s still got something in the tank, why we didn’t go to him more late in the game baffles me… but there are very few things Doc Rivers does anymore that don’t baffle me, so I’m not surprised.

  • Tom

    Noah
    DJ Augustin
    Aaron Gray
    Q Richardson
    Manu Flopper
    Mariobelli or something from the Raptors
    The Israeli from the Kings (the king of prayer shots)

    The annoying all-stars

  • Josh A

    hey guys, Does Brian Robb ever check this stuff out. Like the comments. I need to ask him a question

  • Brendan Jackson

    Yes he does. Ask away.

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  • Josh A

    No, i need Brian to email me because they ask for your email and i need to ask him an important question

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    I have to disagree with Manu and Gray on that list of annoying people.

  • Brendan Jackson

    @Sal
    I have to diagree with you about Horford. He has nothing but respect for everyone on this Celtics team. His in-game actions are only heat-of-the-moment outbursts from intense play. Nothing more than what Kevin Garnett does every game.

    I hated watching him taunt Pierce after hitting a jumper in Paul’s face as he lay on the ground- but that’s the NBA. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

    Besides, both Horford and Marivn Williams have stated their immense respect for Paul and everyone else here:

    http://media.790thezone.com/Podcasts/1345/al_horford_And_marvin_williams.mp3

    Give a listen.

  • Brendan Jackson

    @JoshA
    You can email him at Briantrobb@gmail.com

  • Josh A

    @Zach, can you please answer me questions on the other post

  • http://celticshub.com Ira Barrows

    One quick question, perhaps rhetorical: Where is Nate? If I were saved from purgatory to a team that at least has a chance to compete, I’d throw some clothing into a carry-on bag and do whatever it took to get to LAX. Tonight same thing for PDX! I’m sure there are flights. He had already cleaned out his Knicks locker. I hope this isn’t a bad sign.

  • Josh A

    @Ira. it is not that simple. He may want to say bye to his friends and family that are living there. Any teammates he might of said bye to. Plus, he needs to learn the playbook of the Celtics.

  • Jay P

    There’s no way you’d put anyone in a game without having practiced with the team at least once. He doesn’t know any of the celtics sets, this isn’t the playground, you can’t just come in off the street, pick up a ball and start running.

  • Josh A

    Hey Robb, if you see this can you answer my email

  • tm

    Zach,

    Manu should make it to the annoying all-star because of all the flops. Now that I think about it, add Fisher to the list.

    Gray was just annoying was all the nasty gesture he gave everytime the Bulls scored a basket last playoff. There were a few other guys that were like that, but none stuck out like him. As Tom Heinsohn said, he can fit 3 digits on his jersey! (A guy in Atlanta and another player on the Bulls are guilty of that too, forgot their names).

    Also how can we forget about Zaza.

  • DRJ1

    @Ira: Doc said Nate still has to go through the physical, and that’s why he might not be able to make it to Portland. Without Eddie and TA (injured, hopefully nothing serious) and without Eddie’s replacement, we’re down to 10 guys, two of which are Scal and Shelden. It might not be pretty.

    But no matter… the direction to which they turned last night was/is a great one, and that in the end may turn out to be the watershed moment to which Brian alluded.

  • NickFaldo

    The writer says kudos to Doc for playing Perk. Ha!!! Thank God we had Doc in 2008 to get #17. Few could have coached that team. Any other one last night would have had Scal in there or put Sheed back in instead of Perk. Doc was a genius to never give Hudson a chance, because now we have Nate, and everyone knows Scal and Shelden are the answer for the frontcourt woes. Thanks also to Doc for playing Ray and Paul 40 minutes a game. That’s how they stay so efficient. Yes, if Doc doesn’t win coach of the year, it’ll be a travesty of justice. KUDOS TO DOC. HE’S WICKED AWESOME!!!!!

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  • mugi

    I hate Sasha Vujacic* made me lol :D

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