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Two Different Halves Leaves a Hole for the Celtics

I guess you can't blame the Celtics for only playing one half of basketball. After all, they only had one half of their roster.

But in all seriousness, how brutal was that?

Are we sure that nobody on the Lakers' staff snuck into the Celtics' locker room during the first half and slipped something into their halftime drinks? Like, I don't know, sleeping pills?

It sure looked like it.

At one point in the second quarter, the Celtics led by 15 points. As the minutes ticked away though, the Lakers crawled back in. That should have been the first sign of an issue.

An eight-point halftime lead quickly evaporated in the third quarter, as the Lakers jumped out to a 10-0 run. It was back and forth for a while, but when that dreadful quarter ended, it was the Lakers with a four-point lead - one in which they'd never give up.

"I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first -scored the first 10 points," Coach Doc Rivers said. "And I never thought we fought through it, really.  I mean obviously the fatigue and all that - you know, one of our concerns going into the game was Paul (Pierce) or Ray (Allen) couldn't get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left.  And that happened. 

"But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are.  I didn't think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we're great at that usually." 

The Celtics shot 50-percent in the first half, but just 26-percent in the third quarter. During that stretch they could only muster up 15 points while the Lakers dropped 27 - 12 of which came from Kobe Bryant.

"Well once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe," Rivers said. "I mean, I think we knew that a week ago.  And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive." 

The fourth quarter wasn't much better, as the C's again couldn't even hit the 20-point marker, scoring just 18 points to finish off the game. Credit the Lakers for bringing it in the second half. They came out with a willingness to defend, something that they didn't appear to be into in the first half.

"We just made things a little bit tougher," Bryant said of the changes made in the second half. "In the first half, they got a lot of easy opportunities in transition, a lot of easy catch and shoots and things like that. We just had to put a stop to it."

The opportunities that the Lakers put a stop to, lead by Bryant, was noted by Rivers, who praised Bryant for his attention to defense this game.

"Kobe, listen, Kobe didn't win the game with his offense," he said. "Kobe won the game today with his defense.  I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal.  He was everywhere.  He was trapping, he was helping, you know off (Rajon) Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots."

Ray Allen broke the three-point record (congrats Ray, but I've already touched on that amazing feat) on a basket made in transition. Unfortunately, there weren't many more of those opportunities for him in the second half, as the transition game seemed to end, and Allen spent a lot of time on the bench.

"Ray Allen was getting open on just comfort shots that he likes," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "Open on transition, those transition baskets and turnovers are big, and we stopped that in the second half."

The Celtics were extremely thin at the center position tonight, without the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Semih Erden, for that reason, the Lakers had an advantage down low for the majority of the game, leading to a 47-36 rebounding edge.

If you still have nightmares about last year's regular season, don't read the next quote - the last line of it could really bring you back to that dark time.

"That third quarter really hurt us," Paul Pierce said. "We come out gave up a three and then the three point play to start off. Then it seems like the Lakers get hot and you know what they are capable of. We just didn't play with the same urgency in the second half like we did in the first."

With the Heat knocking on the Celtics' doorstep, that sense of urgency better arrive before Sunday.

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