Whoever keeps track of fast break points should have taken the night off. The Lakers and Celtics could have checked the ball after every possession rather than sprinting to the other end of the court, a rules change that Derek Fisher certainly would have preferred. This was basketball played at the pace of a balding man with dentures, a plodding, grinding, triceratops-type affair that featured little space to breathe but plenty of room to second-guess.
Both teams shot under 40 percent, combined to miss 114 shots and needed binoculars to see the century mark despite a session of overtime. To escape with a win, Boston needed to sink just one more open look, or perhaps a contested stepback by Paul Pierce with time dwindling. Or the Celtics could have used one additional stop — possibly a box out on Los Angeles’ final possession in regulation, which ended with a Pau Gasol putback. The Celtics missed plenty of chances; at the end, Pierce’s shot soared off line and Gasol emerged from the right side of my television screen to deny Ray Allen’s tip-in attempt.
The game started like this (via SB Nation):
but quickly evolved into Los Angeles’ front line (with a marginal helping of Kobe Bryant) vs. Boston’s irrationally disorganized offense, Los Angeles’ second-chance opportunities vs. Boston’s outside jump shots. The Lakers played their always-potent “make Rondo beat us” defense, which they seem to accomplish better than any other team because of their length inside and Kobe’s presence as a help defender. Lacking cohesion or any semblance of execution, the Celtics shot five free throws and deserved few more, since the paint seemed to be lined with a powerful repellent.
The result was an ugly loss, a bad loss, a loss that ended with a Pierce miss but could not be pinpointed on any single failure. The Celtics played hard on Thursday night but they did not play well, and it cost them.
—– Kobe started with an oddly passive demeanor, especially considering that he normally plays like a great white shark swimming through a pool of fish. But once he started to feel it, the aggression came. Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus, as the Celtics usually do, made Kobe work for his shots, but there’s not a lot defenders can do after tapping the ball away twice, seeing Kobe double-dribble it, contesting a fadeaway 20-footer and watching it splash through the rim. Do I sound bitter mentioning the double-dribble? Not me.
—- There are two sides to Paul Pierce’s final shot in overtime:
1) Team offense always beats an iso, especially when the iso is against Metta World Peace, who still has some of his Artestian defensive chops remaining.
2) It’s Paul Pierce, it’s his favorite shot, and team offense didn’t amount to squat at the end of regulation.
I would have preferred a play with multiple options, but I understand why the Pierce iso was called. Kind of. Not really. Okay, maybe Doc should have drawn up something else.
—- Gasol’s block on Ray Allen to end the game was an awesome effort. If Gasol didn’t get there by a fingernail, Allen had a wide open layup to end the game. /hits self in face repeatedly with the butt end of the remote control
—- Who ya got in a shooting contest: Steve Blake, Troy Murphy, Derek Fisher or Air Bud?
—- Kevin Garnett’s legs have been gradually gaining springs for the past few weeks, culminating in a few loud dunks tonight. He also, sadly, missed an open three-pointer late in overtime that might have won the game.
—- Jermaine O’Neal had a loud dunk, too. Coincidentally, he injured himself on the play.
—- Speaking of O’Neal, I often have trouble judging how well he played. The first half, for example, Bynum seemed to grab every rebound and own the paint. But he somehow shot just 3-for-11, and O’Neal contested almost every shot. The Lakers inside duo (Bynum and Gasol) finished with a combined 41 points and 31 rebounds and O’Neal hardly did anything stat-wise (1-3 shooting, two points, six rebounds and three blocks in 33 minutes), but part of me felt he did a good job? O’Neal confuses me. I hate him and then I love him and then I have no clue what the hell to think, and all those emotions often come during the same possession.
—- Bynum is very tough to stop. Bynum would be even more tough to stop if Mike Brown paid the other Lakers every time they passed to the big fella.
—- While watching that game I wasn’t sure whether to vomit, funnel a fifth of vodka, repeatedly poke myself in the eye until I couldn’t see the television screen anymore, or applaud two teams for a scrappy, competitive bout.
—- Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. Damn it.
—- Smush Parker, God bless his soul, knows this look all too well (via SB Nation):
—- I never thought I would write these words in this order, but Avery Bradley (sore shoulder) really could have made a difference. Upon facing one possession of Bradley’s defense, Steve Blake would have run straight for the exits and Andrew Goudeluck would have offered his jersey to the nearest ball boy. The Celtics needed a spark tonight to force them into a transition game, where baskets might have been easier to come by. Bradley could have given it. (Note: I never thought I’d reach this place, either.)
—- It’s tough to win when Garnett and Pierce combine to shoot 13-41, but the Celtics hung in due to their now-always-present defense. I’m not sure whether to react with pessimism or optimism.