This game felt like another Lakers buzzer beater win in the making. I actually kept expecting it to come even with it being a three possession game with under a minute to go. This Lakers team is just that scary.
The Celtics really showed some guts tonight. Despite tonight essentially being a two man show between Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. This team did not show any sign of packing it in after giving up a 14 point lead and after rounds of devastating miscues following long stretches of stellar play.
Rondo sealed the deal with some huge free throws with a few minutes to go. Props to ABC’s Audio crew for picking up that excellent sound byte of a Celtics player (Nate Robinson?) congratulating Rondo.
The Celtics dominated the first half due in large part to Ray Allen’s 27 points and seven three pointers. Allen ended up knocking down a NBA playoff record 8 three point shots but credit the Celtics’ screeners for really laying out Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant the entire first half.
Try to wrap your heads around this: Ray Allen has 27 points at half time. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo chipped in a paltry six points, Perkins had a few put-backs and Kevin Garnett only mustered a single bucket. That kind of box score is straight out of bizarro world.
Rondo played second fiddle to Ray Allen tonight for a couple of reasons. One, Ray Allen broke an NBA record- okay, fair enough. Two, this type of performance from Rondo has started to become customary. Tonight, Rondo quietly tabulated his fifth career playoff triple-double. The points and assists are nice, but everyone (smartly) said that Rondo had to a force on the glass. He was tonight and it was huge.
The Celtics were a three-headed monster tonight with Allen, Rondo, and the bench. Everyone, right down to Shelden Williams, played hard and contributed with hustle and team defense. Rasheed Wallace entered the game tonight through a time machine. He played well on D, he shot well, and he hustled- something rarely seen this season. If Garnett continues to struggle like he has been through the first two games, Doc Rivers will have to heavily rely on Wallace to give good minutes. So far, he has delivered.
The Celtics have no answer for Pau Gasol, but in a way, that is okay. If the Celtics can continue to close out hard on Derek Fisher and turn Ron Artest into a jump shooter they have done half of what they need to do win. The other half being a combination of limiting Kobe Bryant any way possible and completely exploiting the Lakers bench on the offensive end.
Speaking of Kobe Bryant, I am respecting this guy more and more. I have tasted venom every time I have watched a Celtics versus Lakers game for years now but that is slowly turning into a profound respect. Say what you want about Kobe the person, Kobe the complainer, or Kobe the teammate. But don’t say this guy is overrated and don’t say this guy doesn’t play hard.
The three before halftime, the one-man fast break defender, and ability to not pick up a sixth foul and still be aggressive and focused.
I am in no way a Kobe Bryant fan, but I have to give credit where credit is due.
That’s it for now. Tomorrow, I will type up some of my game notes that I found entertaining and hopefully you will too.
Quick addendum: The Lakers got a raw deal from the officials tonight. While they took more free throws than the Celtics by a wide margin, it seems as though they lost every 50-50 call and I noted a lot of phantom fouls. Oh and Garnett was the last one to touch that ball by a mile…