Friday, February 19, 2010

The Arrival of Heroes: Where I Don't Care That Kobe Didn't Play

Last night, the Boston Celtics took down the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 87-86 in one of the few games I was pleased and satisfied with in the past month or two.

That's right... the Los Angeles Lakers. Not the Kobe-less Los Angeles Lakers. Not the Lamar Odom/Pau Gasol-lead Los Angeles Lakers. Not the superstar-lacking Los Angeles Lakers. The Los Angeles Lakers.

Let's be logical here. For those Laker fans that are spitting purple and gold all over this loss, listen up here. The Lakers are 4-1 without Kobe Bryant, including a win against San Antonio and two road wins against Portland and Utah. Boston was the first team to take down Los Angeles, an even tougher task as they were playing at the rowdy Staples Center. They were certainly capable of doing it, even without Mamba.

They thrived under the pressure, the intensity of the match. They fed themselves off the electricity of the crowd and the energy of the Lakers' team. The Celtics, for one of the few times this season, looked like the Celtics. They played with consistent, merciless heart. They stepped up when the moment was necessary.

I saw a team that stabbed back and held their own despite seeing their own blood trickle out in the fourth quarter. I saw a team that locked horns and won the elongated struggle against L.A., the same way the epic battle of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony panned out just before the Boston game. I saw a team that didn't back down, didn't over- or underestimate their opponent, but just played basketball.

And I loved it.

Stats to regard:
  • Ray Allen scores 24 on 10-15 shooting. He was flat-out deadly from all over. Unquestionably the most confident I've seen Ray all season. I saw his legs have a little bounce, I saw that he had an objective. In the first half of the season, he always seemed confused, lost, ridden with turmoil. Maybe the theory that revolves around Ray playing better without the trade deadline pressure is playing out?
  • Kendrick Perkins had a monster night with 13 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. He really disrupted the Lakers' frontcourt, quietly limiting Pau Gasol's shot attempts (12, his least in the last seven games), and forced Bynum to have a below-average shooting night despite shooting 15 shots.
  • I liked to see Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett setting out to score last night. Rondo and Garnett shot 17 and 16 shots, respectively, and despite the fact that both of them had poor shooting nights, it's showing that the two of them have regained their juice and took the initiative to try to lead their team last night. I also liked to see Rondo still manage to dish out 11 assists, as well as Garnett nab eight rebounds in just 26 rebounds. 
  • The bench was TERRIBLE last night, and we still got the W over a good team. Just shows how much exhibiting good defense, battling hard, and merely playing the game without missing a beat can provide a team.
  • The Celtics only committed 11 total turnovers last night, the Lakers 12; good to see.
  • Not much from Paul Pierce Thursday night, but I expect him to emerge when the team needs him. Last night, he had a +15 +/- effect on the team, when Ray Allen was carrying the load. A star-studded team just needs a couple of players to do their thing and the others to execute the little things. Pierce held Artest to a 6-14 shooting night -- and with the game the other Celtics had, that's all we needed him to do. Nothing to complain about here.
Moving forward: Boston continues their road trip by playing against the now Marcus-Camby armed Blazers. Nate Robinson is expected to play. Let's get a streak going, eh fellas?

Blog Archive