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Sparkplug Eddie Breaks One Open

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Among the many joys associated with watching the Celtics of this season and last, there is a special thrill that comes with watching Eddie House catch fire.

The diminutive gunner became an instant fan favorite in Beantown last season.  Despite occasional questions about his point guard skills, that has remained the case from day one.  The boundless energy both on the bench and on the floor, the constant yapping, the trigger-happiness and the ability to make shots along with the professionalism he showed in dealing with his minutes being constantly jerked around last spring have provided the perfect combination to cement the love for Eddie. 

Last night's performance just added to it.  On an evening when the Celtics spent most of the contest cruising, it would be a stretch to call House's performance the difference-maker.  But it definitely broke the Celts' visit to Washington D.C. open past the point of no return.

It was at the end of a disastrously played third quarter for the team that the gunner got cooking.  After taking a 24-point lead to halftime, the Celts spent the third quarter turning the ball over like there was no tomorrow, and they saw the lead cut all the way to 10 before upping it to 12 with one possession to play in the third.  But with three seconds left, House turned the momentum by rolling out to the left wing to spread the floor for a double-teamed Paul Pierce.  Pierce dished, House caught and released the ball in one motion, and just like that, the Celts were taking a 15-point lead into the final quarter.

He was far from done.  After the Celts raised the lead to 18 early in the fourth, the reserve guard took matters into his own hands to break the Wizards' spirit and ensure that this one would never be close again.  The Celtics had three possessions in the 85 seconds from 9:02 of the fourth quarter to the 7:37 mark.  Those three possessions resulted in nine House points on three shots.  It started with an open bomb from the left corner and continued and culminated with consecutive looks from the right side of the circle, both of which were somewhat more contested and sandwiched around a Washington timeout.  Bang, bang, bang.  In less than a minute and a half, a 95-77 game became a 104-77 rout.  Good night, Wizards.

I couldn't help but smile as Eddie backpedaled down the court screaming, smiling and goofily slamming his own chest.  With a 5-for-8 shooting performance (including 4-of-5 from deep), it's hard to begrudge the guy a burst of emotion.  He had sealed the game and re-energized a Celtics team that would go on to put up a 33-spot to in the fourth to finish a 122-88 blowout in style.

What continues to amaze me the most about Eddie is just how quickly he gets the ball out of his hands.  As someone who has long struggled with shooting and has been working for the last couple of years to remove a hitch from my jump shot, I find it enough of a challenge to get my mechanics right when I've really got time to set and shoot.  Shooting while rushed is a whole 'nother issue in its own right.  How Eddie continues to make it look like nothing, I'll never know.  Somehow, it looks as though he manages to catch the ball, set his feet and release all in one fluid motion.  His release point is customarily a bit low, but beyond that, he always seems to be able to release as quickly as he wants without sacrificing any of his shooting mechanics.  The ball literally jumps out of Eddie's hands toward the basket, and he is able to hit with startling regularity for the speed at which he shoots. 

He isn't called a gunner for nothing.

I don't say this one as often as I should, so thanks Eddie, for another night full of energy off the bench - and for the type of character you've been bringing to this team every day since the start of last season.  Whether you're doing 25-step handshakes with the starters or canning J's to break games open, it's a pleasure to root for you.