The Boston Celtics tackled one of their two regular season match-ups with the Los Angeles Lakers today. And for three quarters, it looked like they would manage to come out on top in this first of a back-to-back. Ultimately though, they didn't manage to take the W into tomorrow's game with the Sacremento Kings. A strong fourth quarter, in which the Lakers outscored the Celtics by 20 points sealed the deal.
Here's what went down.
Jeff Green started off searing hot, scoring the first 11 points for Boston, including an alley-oop off Rondo and a deep three. On defense, Jared Sullinger struggled to contain Pau Gasol, who has a decent size-advantage over him.
Kelly Olynyk immediately made his presence felt after the first time-out of the game, with quick hands on defense and snappy passes on the offensive side of the ball.
There was a short Chris Johnson sighting as well, who put us up by 9 points on a nice dunk after cutting right through the center of the lane.
The C's manages to carry the 9 point lead into the second quarter, being up 28-19, partly due to the 7 points they scored off of 5 Laker turnovers.
As a side note, Rajon Rondo quietly managed 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 points, playing much of the first quarter.
The quarter started off with some crisp passing, but fairly quickly turned into a bit of a mess. A couple of turnovers, some fouls and bad shot attempts later, the Lakers were within 2 points.
Luckily, the team woke up a bit, with some good play by Pressey and Humphries on both sides of the ball. Johnson added some points and impressive defensive possessions as well.
What followed was a messy stretch where the two teams took turns not taking advantage of mismatches, turning over the ball and having the wrong people attempt three-pointers.
After a couple of time-outs the Lakers strung together a 7-0 run to come within 1. Bass hit his second shot with little over a minute left in the first half to end said run.
Green? Nope, didn't see him this quarter.
To summarize the first half: the Lakers weren't able to take adequate advantage of the Celtic big's poor play. Celtics up by 2, 46-44.
Green scored his first 5 points since the opening onslaught. Unfortunately, the Lakers managed to answer to every made basket, never falling behind by more than 5 points.
The C's still struggled to stop Gasol, who accumulated 16 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks at this point. The Celtics bigs managed 16 points as well, just not individually, settling for too many outside shots and heavily contested layups.
At this point the announcers found out - and spoke at length - about Rondo's large hands. I'm not sure why I'm mentioning this.
Overall though, and ever so slightly, the Celtics managed to just play better basketball. The inside shots started going in as the Lakers put in their bench players, the same players who turned the ball over a bunch of times, and fouled our guys on shot attempts, as the lead went into double digits at 72-59.
In fact, Chris Kaman had to end a 6 minute Laker drought.
And what'd you know, even our bigs showed up, as the Lakers failed to grab key rebounds. 11 Offensive rebounds, at this point, versus 5 for the Lakers. At this point, every single Celtics player had at least a single field goal, with a team total of 17 assists on 30 made baskets.
By quarter's end, the score was 74-63, advantage Celtics.
The Lakers came out scoring the first 6 points in their quest to end their 8-game home court losing streak. A nice floater by Bayless was answered by Jordan Hill's put-back dunk as the Staples center crowd got back into the game. A three by Jordan Farmar added fuel to the fire, and a steal and break-away layup by Brooks later the game was tied.
Seeing their lead erased and facing a bunch of lead-changes, the Celtics decided to start attacking the basket. Driving and passing inside more and more, they seemed intent on getting their win in this first of a back-to-back on the road.
Their turnovers however didn't help their case much, nor did the number of their shots that got blocked at the rim.
Capitalising on a good mix of fast-breaks, post-up moves and three-pointers, the Lakers started heating up. A couple of jump-shots by Brandon Bass managed to keep the Celtics in the game, but with a little over four minutes left in the game and down by 7 points, the Celtics had to flee into a time-out.
... it didn't help much.
Neither team hit many threes early, but the Lakers chose the fourth quarter to start hitting them. And when they did miss, their bigs cleaned up on the boards. A Green 3 had to cut back the Laker lead to a single digit (92, 99) but with seconds to go, that wasn't enough.
Final score: 92 - 101.
A few more notes
- Brandon bass had a slow start, but redeemed himself with a big second half and fourth quarter. His 20 points and 8 rebounds would've gotten him the game-ball, had we won the event. (team-high plus-minus of +12 as well)
- Marshon Brooks, the ex-Celtic, had a pretty solid game for the Lakers. He scored 14 points, hitting on 7 of his 11 attempts.
- Jeff Green still can't stop playing with the on/off switch, but managed to outscore everyone else on the court with 21 points.
- Rondo missed a fair amount of his (crazy) layups, going 2-12 from the field for a measly 6 points. He did manage 11 assists and 6 rebounds but didn't control the game as much as he did in the first quarter.
- Sullinger had to fight hard for his double-double, and was largely over-shadowed by the Lakers bigs. He ended up scoring 12 points on 6-16 shooting, grabbing 12 rebounds.