The Celtics squander a huge comeback, a break-out, bounce-back performance from Kevin Garnett, and a poor shooting night from Kobe Bryant to end up losing Game Three, the first of three in Boston.
Many would say this was a must-win game for the Celtics and in a lot of respects they would be correct. The Celtics had to come out and show that Game 2 was not a product of poor officiating and Ray Allen’s shooting display was not a mirage. They did neither Tuesday night.
Things got a little interesting when, in a seven point game with 40 seconds to go, Pierce drove left and banked in a lay-up after being fouled by Lamar Odom. On the ensuing rebound from the missed free-throw by Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo fouls Lamar Odom, but due to a soon-to-be-reviewed NBA replay rule the Celtics get the ball back. On the next possession, the Celtics get the ball to Ray Allen, who curls over a KG screen which initially looked like a two-handed merciless shove sending Pau Gasol tumbling to the ground.
I should have known better. Gasol faked everyone out live, including the refs, but the replay showed the exaggerated flail to the ground that was so monumental it deserves it’s own name and Naismith Hall plaque. Ladies and Gentlemen, can we put together? Can we start a petition and gain some traction for what can only be known as the infamous: Flop.
Give credit to Pau Gasol. He made the game saving play. Despite a terrific and gutsy performance from Derek Fisher in the fourth quarter, it was Gasol sending himself to the floor with such authority that really put this game out of reach for the Celtics.
Before everyone goes into a tirade over questionable officiating, let’s get one thing straight: on a scale from 1-10 in terms of the Celtics actually deserving to win this game, they get a 0.5. And that may be a little generous. The 0.5 comes from the furious comeback (facilitated mostly by the Celtics’ bench) and their ability to get stops, play lock-down defense and force the Lakers into tough shots.
Still none of those barely-positive things to take out of this game, the Celtics still can point to one thing that really lost them this game: their offense. Let’s just get right to it- Ray Allen was awful tonight. How do you follow-up a 32 point performance where you set a Finals record for most three point makes with an “O-for”. That’s right 0-for-13 from the floor, 0-for-8 from three, and 0-for-anything resembling contributing positively for the Celtics. Ray’s defense tonight was okay, but was drastically out-shined by Tony Allen. The much-maligned TA forced Bryant into bad shots, forced him to give up the ball, and forced someone else to beat the Celtics- they just did.
The Lakers came up with an answer for everything the Celtics tried to throw at them. The limited Rondo’s aggressiveness in the second-half, they put Paul Pierce in foul trouble the entire game, and they had their usual mastery of the boards (out-rebounding the Celtics 43-35).
The few positives from this game from the Green perspective really begin and end with Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are supposed to play great defense. The Celtics are supposed to have the better, deeper bench. Up until Game One, they were also suppose to get huge production from KG. Finally, Garnett came up huge with 25 points on 11-16 shooting.
Fans and experts alike keep saying the same thing about both teams: if these players can finally put together a game where they are all playing at their best, they will dominate. For the Celtics, time is running out. By winning Game Three, the Lakers have really taken a hold of this series, and the Celtics will have to use everything they have to get it back.