Over the course of the summer I'll look back at some of my favorite Celtics games from the 2008 season. Ironically I've decided to focus on a loss first. Let me set the scene. Following the All Star game the Celtics struggled through one of their worst stretches of the season with back-to-back-to-back losses to the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. However, it was not as bad as the record indicated (0-3) thanks to several reasons:
1. It was not much of a break for Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce because they were part of All Star weekend. While players on the opposing teams, minus Golden State, had All Star reps as well they had the benefit of sleeping in their own beds.
2. Kevin Garnett returned to the lineup for the first time after missing 9 games due to an ab injury. He was rusty.
3. The Celtics once again proved they were difficult to beat. It took a raucous playoff style crowd in Denver and some quality free throwing shooting down the stretch by the Nuggets (after the C's clawed back into it), a buzzer beater in Oakland, and steady play by the Suns to hold off a rally after Boston played arguably its worst half of basketball of the season.
4. All three of those teams, especially the Nuggets and Warriors, needed it a lot more than the Celtics due to the tight playoff race out West.
5. KG mixed it up with Amare Stoudemire a bit. Granted that hurt the C's when Garnett got a cheap third foul, went to the bench, and halted a promising rally. But that attitude served Boston well later on and it was good to have him back.
For the record I'm slowly creeping up towards Tommy Heinsohn territory in terms of being a Celtics apologist. Anyways back to the reason for this post. That Nuggets game was an absolute blast. It was one of those west coast games that killed me because I just had to stay up, particularly after the All Star lay off. In fact it made me noticeably unproductive at work the next day. Yet it was worth it. Living on the east coast I always feel like I'm part of a special club if I stay up late to watch one of my teams out west and something cool happens. Now to be fair dropping 118 points on the 2008 Nuggets does not sound like a major accomplishment. But it was given the fact that KG shot 2-7 from the field and finished with 4 points in roughly 20 minutes. At the same time giving up 124 points and losing are not causes for celebration. Yet I enjoyed numerous aspects of this one.
1. Leon Powe scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. And though I can't remember anything off the top of my head I'm sure he was a bad ass, which had to make the Nuggets regret trading him.
2. Tony Allen played one of his better games: 9 points on 4-5 from the field, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals and a +6 +/-.
3. But in the end it was all about the highlight plays:
Paul Pierce facial over Nuggets (via Marksman1996)
Rajan Rondo "Slick" move vs. Nuggets (via Marksman1996)
Rajan Rondo putback vs. Nuggets (via Marksman1996)
To review Pierce dunked on Marcus Camby (shades of Antoine Walker on Camby), Rondo broke someone's (Chucky Atkins?) ankles, and then Rondo outdid himself by throwing down the put back dunk, which A. told me everything I needed to know about the Nuggets and B. led to me calling reader Rondo even though it was well after midnight. And he was up.