That long plane trip back home for the C’s will seem a bit shorter after this one, as the crew took care of business in the second half by erasing a nine-point deficit against the upstart Kings and using their defensive prowess to escape town with the victory. With the win, the C’s close out their Pacific Division swing with a stellar 3-1 record, as they head back to Boston (weather permitting) tomorrow with a couple days off before hosting the Dallas Mavericks Friday night back at the TD Garden.
Some quick thoughts on this one, before Brendan brings you a full recap in the AM.
This one was following the playing down to an inferior west coast road opponent for most of the first half. The C’s had lost countless games the past couple years on the road to the likes of the Clippers, Warriors, and most recently Friday night against the Suns by playing sloppy ball with plenty of turnovers and stalling on the offensive end, all the while giving their inferior opponents energy, confidence, and most importantly opportunity.
The good news is it’s clear these aren’t the Celtics of old. They are smarter….deeper….and stronger offensively and that all showed tonight in the second half. Make no mistake though, they won this contest first and foremost with their defense, limiting the Kings to just 36 second half points after allowing 34 in the second quarter. Boston was terrific on the defensive glass, and also had 14 steals overall, forcing 20 turnovers by Sacramento as their offense stalled late outside of DaMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
With the defense running on all cylinders, sufficient offense was enough to take Boston over the top and that’s exactly what they got tonight. Plenty of accolades to hand out, and it’s late so we will go name by name here.
Rajon Rondo – I will spend more time on him tomorrow, but he deserves a lot of credit for being incredible aggressive taking the ball to the hoop tonight. He didn’t get the foul calls he deserved but still finished well around the basket, hit a couple jumpers (and free throws!) while making a few usual ill-advised passes. In addition, he got the bonus of not having to play in the fourth quarter with none other than Nate Robinson stepping up whose next on our list.
Robinson – The numbers weren’t there, and he had a few classic knuckleheaded shots and a dumb charge, but his defensive energy and hustle made a big difference in this one. He was a pest all over the floor, grabbed a couple important boards and perhaps most importantly gave Rondo a nice rest late in the game, a nice change of pace for Doc. He brought a much needed spark in the 4th and was an important part of the win.
Ray Allen- Ho hum, another 60 percent shooting night with four three-pointers. How spoiled are we? Extremely. My question at this point is will he ask for a raise from his 10 million dollar option waiting for him next year? He’s playing like an All-Star and top 5 shooting guard at this point.
Paul Pierce – 15-5-5 with a nail in the coffin trademark right elbow shot to boot with under a minute remaining. An emphatic dunk on a fast break too was also a treat to watch as the C’s made their fourth quarter push for the lead.
KG - Offensively not a strong game, but he really made his presence felt in a couple instances. First, the block on Dalembert’s dunk which had him screaming at himself even more than usual. Then, the defensive pressure and forced turnover that eventually resulted in a crucial three by Ray Allen in the midst of the third quarter, which was really a turning point in energizing the C’s to the win in this contest as everyone really started to get after it after that play.
Perk and Baby - Both of these guys were tremendous in the second half tonight. Perk held his own on the defensive glass, grabbed 8 boards while keeping Cousins and Dalembert at bay, and also got into the act on the offensive end with a couple nice cuts around the bucket midway through the fourth.It’s amazing how good he continues to look already despite being just a week into playing. Remember he was suppose to return this Friday!
Meanwhile Baby hit a couple of monster mid range jumpers in the fourth quarter. These were great looks within the flow of the offense. Baby also turned down a number of semi-open jumpers throughout the game that made me happy. He’s really picking his spots well and is playing his role perfectly.
All in all, it wasn’t all tremendous. The second quarter was pitiful as Donte Greene and Pooh Jeter outclassed the C’s bench and starters, while the refs bailed the Kings out constantly on both ends. Still, when push came to shove, the C’s tightened up and took care of business. 3-1 on this road trip makes everyone happy and now some home cooking awaits.
Brendan will have plenty more for you on this one in the A.M.