Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon home contest against the Boston Celtics, the first time the two teams have met since Game 7 of the NBA Finals, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Celtics: R. Rondo, R. Allen, P. Pierce, K. Garnett, S. O’Neal
6:25 It wasn’t a good start for the Lakers on the offensive end, as they managed not a single assist on 3-of-9 field goals while failing to move the ball well in the half court. This was Phil Jackson and his staff’s primary concern against the Celtics, who overload defensively, confident that teams won’t have the discipline to really work the ball around. Meanwhile, both 1996 Draftees Ray Allen (No. 5 pick) and Kobe Bryant (No. 13) had picked up two personal fouls and had to go to respective benches.
0:48.3 Three straight points from Ron Artest after he’d opened the game 0-for-4 were part of a 5-0 run to close the first for the Lakers, cutting Boston’s once eight-point lead down to one at 22-21. The Lakers did manage their first two assists of the quarter to climb up to 8-for-20 from the field, and forced five Celtics turnovers to help overcome Boston’s big 14-8 edge on the glass.
11:46 Lamar Odom continued a terrific individual start to the game with a slashing layup down the left side of the lane to give the Lakers a 23-22 lead, but Nate Robinson and checked-back-in Allen hit back-to-back threes at the other end. With both offenses suddenly clicking, Gasol then hit a nice running hook before Robinson’s pull-up jumper made it 30-25 Boston.
5:53 In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, C’s subs Nate Robinson and Glen Davis played a huge role in delivered Boston a victory. In far different circumstances, they were nonetheless at it again, combining for nine points to help Boston open a 40-31 lead, though Bryant’s 13-foot jumper and a turnover on Pierce (moments after he heard his first “wheelchair” chants while going down a bit too hard on Luke Walton’s foul) got LAL the ball back, down seven. One other note: Gasol cracked KG in the head on a follow through from a missed shot, drawing blood, which KG naturally let fall down his face before tasting, before begrudgingly walking to the locker room to get stitched up.
2:28 Gasol did not have a good start to the game. Period. He was hesitant while making only 1-of-3 field goal attempts, and often passed the ball out of good scoring situations. But he was a different Spanish beast in the second, offering extra energy at both ends, including a big block of Shaq on defense then a hustle play on offense to earn Kobe a three-pointer, which he drained to put the Lakers up 44-42.
0:01.0 After a great finish to the quarter produced a 54-48 lead when Bryant reached 22 points with two late free throws, Odom made an ill-advised play, to say the least, in fouling Glen Davis while he attempted a halfcourt buzzer-beater. Davis hit 2-of-3 free throws to make it a 54-50 margin. Bryant’s terrific 6-for-8 field goal performance paced the Lakers, who also made up some ground on the glass by attacking the O boards late, setting up an entertaining second half.
11:28 Kobe opened the third with a deep triple over Garnett to get to 25 points on an impressive 9-of-13 from the field, though KG answered with a hook that combined with Pierce’s triple got Boston to within two at 57-55.
3:48 We’ve seen Fisher throw his body at people in transition to earn fouls, and he did it again despite Allen’s protests, capping off his fourth steal with two foul shots to cut Boston’s lead to three. They’d built it up to six with an 18-8 start to the quarter thanks primarily to Pierce, who exploded for 14 of those points.
0:00 A late three from lil’ Nate Robinson gave Boston a 77-72 lead heading into the fourth, a nine-point turnaround from halftime. Bynum’s early foul trouble, a quiet Gasol and Pierce’s red hot shooting – if matched by Bryant – led to the lead swapping.
10:48 Boston is the NBA’s best-executing team for a reason, shooting over 50 percent on the year thanks to plays like the two pin down screens that got Allen and Robinson wide-open corner 3′s that put the Celtics up nine points. The Celtics would go on to make 5-of-6 shots to start the fourth, simply executing much better than the Lakers while reaching 26 assists to just nine for the Lakers. L.A.’s coaches know that their squad isn’t where it needs to be yet in terms of execution, and Boston was showing why … yet the Lakers were still in the game.
4:02 The Celtics kept executing, Rondo earning his 11th assist of the second half with an alley-oop layup to Garnett that put Boston up 11 points, their high for the game. L.A. had avenged their 2008 Finals loss in Boston back in February of 2009, and the C’s were four minutes away from returning the favor after losing to L.A. in 2010.
0:00 Things would end in turn, Boston reaching 60 percent from the field at game’s close, Rondo dishing 14 second half assists after just one in the first half, and Bryant’s 41 points doing the Lakers little good on the scoreboard. The Lakers will have their chance to exact some regular season revenge on Feb. 10 in Beantown. Until then, your numbers coming in the next post.