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The Uggo Sandwich: Celtics 95, Kings 90 (Full Recap)

The Celtics were outscored 34-18 in the second quarter and won? Say what?!

PACE: 98 possessions (Now-You-See-Me-Now-You-Don’t- Fast)

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 96.9 points/100 possessions (Not Good)

DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 91.8 points allowed/100 possessions (Great)

Last night’s game had some ugly sandwiched in between two big pieces of beautiful.  The Celtics owned the first quarter by playing the way they normally do: fast, loose, and efficient.  Then that pesky second quarter kicked in and reminded NBA fans of the Celtics’ recently discovered Achilles Heel.  The Celtics’ bench let a comfortable seven point lead disappear and by the end of the second quarter the Kings had a 54-45 halftime lead.

Apparently, the Celtics’ poor play in the second quarter did not sit well with Ray Allen (Gary Washburm, The Boston Globe):

Boston played a pathetic defensive second quarter, allowing the upstart Kings to shoot 66 percent and Donte Greene, who averaged 5.3 points per game, to drop 13 in the quarter. The Kings strutted into the ARCO Arena locker room with their chests bulging, and Allen was furious.

He challenged his teammates, especially the reserves who lost the lead, to respond in the second half. The usually reserved 3-point specialist exerted his locker room power and the Celtics came back with a sparkling 24 minutes.

“From one season to the next, it’s always interesting how where we end up, who we play on the road,’’ said Allen, who fully recalled last year’s turmoil in Sacramento. “There’s always something swirling around the team so I think it’s a testimony for every game for each guy to do their job. You put whatever agendas aside and make sure you come out and play your game.’’

Sometimes it takes unusual occurrences to spark a team that can sometimes get bored. The Celtics were bored in the second quarter, believing they had knocked out the Kings by taking a 7-point lead in the first period. The Celtics came out with the same energy they ended with in the Lakers win, but coach Doc Rivers decided to give the starters a breather and the bench’s apathy led to a 34-point Sacramento quarter.

To be fair (sorta) Donte Greene uncharacteristically went off in the second quarter hitting a mixture of threes and turn-around jumpers and finishing with 13 points all by himself.  That, ladies and gentlemen, does not happen everyday.

Luckily, the Celtics came out in the third like kids who have just been scolded by their highly respected father (with great calfs) and outscored the Kings 29-17 in the third.  The Kings did not do anything to help themselves by playing non-existent team defense.  Tyreke Evans let Rajon Rondo get by him so many times it prompted me to say a puzzled-look, “really?” way too many times (and now my brow is stuck furrowed.  Thanks a lot ‘Reke).

Here’s an example of the Kings’ awesomely bad defense with a video I like to call, “Kings and Awesomely Bad Defense”:

Look at Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans, and DeMarcus Cousins all stand around and go, “Not mine” as Glen Davis drains a jumper.  What’s worse is that Ray Allen could have easily nailed a wide-open three had Davis decided to give the ball up.  It’s this kind of play that forces me to not take for granted watching the Celtics play defense for 82 games.  Being a Kings’ fan must be so frustrating.

It was this kind of defense and the Celtics’ reassertion of their offense that allowed them to narrowly edge this game out.  It should not have been this close but I’ll chalk it up to a potential trap game/post LA win hangover and move on.  No use crying over a lost opportunity to lose.

There is still one more thing left to discuss when it comes to the Celtics and last night’s game was overly indicative of this “one thing”.  What the hell is going on with the Celtics’ bench, specifically Nate Robinson?  The Celtics real bench (swapping Shaquille O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins for this one) were a collective -17.  That would certainly put them on the wrong side of Hayes’ +/- Salvation Scale.

It seemed as though Robinson was, at times, especially bad.  He was 2-for-7 from the field.  He missed all three of his threes.  And he did this:

This last bit is especially inexcusable.  I suppose Robinson’s shot selection is always accompanied by somewhat of an eye-roll but usually Nate makes this pass to Marquis Daniels and both a trotting up the floor high-fiving and happy.  I especially like the look on Daniels’ face and the position of his hands when he sees that Nate is not going to give the ball back to him.  It kind of reminds me of this.

I may be alone in this, but I am glad Nate Robinson is on the Celtics.  This terrible charge aside, it’s plays like this next one that totally make him worth it:

Just look at Nate dive after that loose ball.  It’s this kind of hustle, grit, and blatant disregard for his own personal safety that makes me love this little atom bomb.  I mean, think about it.  Nate could just as easily hustle like Tyreke Evans:

Man, nobody wants that.  “It’s okay Rondo.  I’ll wait for you to secure the ball and then we’ll start,”  said Evans as Rondo shot him this look and carried on.  While on the DDL chat last night, I asked Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom and Daily Dime LIVE fame why Evans did not go for the steal and the best explanation he could offer is that ‘Reke was focusing on Nate Robinson and potentially having to help out on D.  That would, of course, have to mean that Evans and the Kings actually play defense, which they do not.

So Nate ain’t perfect and his performance along with the rest of the bench will be scrutinized from here on out.  The hope is that the Celtics continue to win but also that these wins are not masking a serious problem.  I ultimately think they’ll be fine but since you can really never tell, I will leave you with this little game.  The following is a picture of Nate Robinson followed by a multiple choice question.  Answer in the comments:

Can you tell me what happens next? Is it:

A) Nate dunks on Samuel Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins forcing the Kings to call up Hassan Whiteside from the D-League.

B) Nate misses a four-footer off a Ray Allen miss and Doc Rivers immediately calls timeout and takes him out of the game.

C) Nate inexplicably starts dribbling before he lands and passes the ball up top to restart the offense.

The answer might surprise you (but probably won’t).

  • Batman

    I think C)

    Also Brendan we talked on DDL! What a great time!

  • zebulon

    I think the discussion surrounding our bench needs to be reframed – each of our top 6 bench players (Shaq, Baby, Quis, Nate, West and Jermaine) is a solid basketball player in their own right, capable of contributing on both sides of the ball. However, the substitution patterns Doc uses typically see 4 or 5 of these players sharing the floor at the same time – particularly for the first half of the second quarter.

    Almost no NBA teams use this 'bench mob' tactic – typically coaches stagger the rest time for each of their starters so that they have at least 2 starters on the floor at all times. This means that the C's second unit is typically matched up against a group featuring two or three of the opposing teams starters, making their relative lack of success more indicative of this difference in starter minute distribution than a lack of ability. Of course, it would be excellent if our bench was able to compete with lineups full of NBA starters, but that would just make the C's an even more exceptional team than they currently are.

    In my mind, the only alternative to occasional bench 'meltdowns' (like this Kings game) is for Doc to switch to a more typical minute distribution – and to keep at least two of the Rondo/KG/Pierce/Ray quartet on the floor at all times, to add offensive punch and defensive ability to the second unit. But doing this has two possible negative consequences – either our stars play significantly more minutes, increasing the likelihood of injury and fatigue in the playoffs, or there is a significant reduction in the number of minutes our starters play together. This second option is a negative because of the extraordinary success of our starters as a group – regardless of who is manning the 5-spot, a Rondo/Ray/Pierce/KG lineup is extremely effective on both sides of the ball.

    • Chris O

      Doc started staggering the subs later in the game…thank GOD

    • koolaid

      agree with the logic, but i think doc's just saving the vets legs. i imagine he's giving some extra burn to the bench now to let them try and grow… but come playoff time he'll tighten the leash.

  • Tebucky

    Gotta be C.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I’m going with D) Nate lands with both feet on the rim, finds a Danny Ainge lookalike in the seventh row of the stands, tosses him the ball while screaming “TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE!”…and is surpised to learn that he will be credited with a turnover…and is MORE surprised when Rondo explains that a turnover is a stat that reflects poor play.

    • Chris O

      Love it lol

    • Zee

      One of my favorite moments from Inside the NBA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJX3_gwkM0c

    • CsFanInArkansas

      I just spent WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much time watching people dougie on the internet…..why did Nate Robinson have to come to the Boston Celtics and infect my brain with that?!

  • BleedsgreeninVT

    Nate kicks it to Ray for a 3. Boom.

  • someguyinsac

    Great game, but any game I get to go to is a great game and that only happens twice a year for me. I was apprehensive until about midway through the third, (beer is good and having a designated driver is even better), but it ended very well as far as I'm concerned. Read the team just made it back home an hour or so ago and now it's rest time til the Mavs get to town.

    See you in a few weeks in Oakland, for another win for me to witness of course!

  • Tom W

    it was C. that play hurt my head. But then…that whole game hurt my head.

    I guess I can't complain, since we won. But any game that causes the opposing team's announcers to say "Donte Green and Pooh Jeter are completely outplaying the Celtics right now!" is enough to make me worry.