Just got back from the big Red’sArmy party which was fantastic-despite watching the C’s fall to the Lakers 97-94 at Staples Center today. The Celtics were ice-cold and just could not get things going in the 1st quarter. Things starting looking better towards the end of the 1st half though, and behind a couple of Brandon Bass jumpers, some good defense and a Rondo buzzer-beating 3-pointer, the C’s were right back in it, trailing L.A. 44-42 at halftime.
The second-half of this game was a classic Celtics-Lakers battle. Rondo scored 10 points in the 3rd quarter on an array of layups and jumpshots. But the Lakers continued to feed the ball to Gasol and Bynum, and Kobe & Artest attacked the rim. Between that, and some help from Joey Crawfod, the Lakers took 14 free-throws in the 3rd. A scuffle between Ron Artest, KG & Pierce led to double-techs, and we had ourselves a “bar-fight”.
The 4th was highlighted by Kobe and SugarRay; Kobe scored 10 points in the final stanza, including two huge 3-pointers that put L.A. up 84-83 with 5:24 left. Ray buried a 3 of his own after a huge block by KG on Bynum. It was 94-89 C’s with 2:41 left. Then the well ran dry, and the C’s would not score again. Brandon Bass and Ray both came up-short, and Bynum’s hook with 15 seconds left sealed the deal.
The C’s competed. I will say that. It began to look like we might see the sluggish version of the C’s in the 1st-half. But they came-out with fire in their eyes in the 2nd-half, but just could not get a big stop or basket when it really mattered in the final 2 minutes. L.A. had 42 points in the paint, which was expected, but the Celts actually held their own as far as rebounding- L.A. had boards to Boston’s 34. Stiemsma did a decent job in the abcense of Wilcox & J.O. with 3 blocks in 14 minutes. But it was the offensive struggles, (which Doc mentioned was his main concern during an in-game interview) especially in the 1st quarter and late in the game that doomed the C’s. Most notably, Paul Pierce was 4 of 14 from the field, despite dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 3 steals. Rondo led the C’s with 24 points, had 10 assists, and surprised everyone by calmly drilling 2 clutch FT’s with 3:24 left, that put the C’s up 91-89 at the time.
The C’s now face the young, atheletic Clippers tomorrow night back at Staples. It will be Rondo and CP3′s first match-up this season. Should be interesting.