Lakers 97, Celtics 94: March 11 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon home contest against Boston, the Lakers looking to win a ninth straight home games, 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Celtics: R. Rondo, R. Allen, P. Pierce, B. Bass, K. Garnett

8:40 It was all purple and gold to start the game, a 7-0 lead resulting from Boston missing all five jumpers it took (not able to penetrate with L.A.’s length helping effectively) and Bynum and Gasol scoring inside, with World Peace adding a three. This was a small Boston line up, with Garnett playing center (Jermaine O’Neal out with a sprained left wrist) and Brandon Bass at the four, and L.A. took advantage early.

4:00 Word was that Tom Brady was sitting courtside opposite the Celtics bench. Too bad he couldn’t help L.A. with some QB-style throws down the court intended for Bynum, neither of which went through, and the first resulting in a Ray Allen elbow to his ribs.

0:00 It was a dominant defensive quarter for L.A. at Staples, once again, Boston managing only 25 percent shooting and getting out-rebounded 17-8, Gasol’s seven nearly as many as the whole Celtics team. The resulting lead was 24-14 for the home team.

7:35 As Andrew Goudelock’s three gave L.A. its biggest lead at 37-22, it was Bynum doing much of the damage inside, including a fierce hammer dunk over Garnett that pushed his early totals to 10 points and eight boards.

4:09 Furious at not getting a foul call, Kobe ripped off his mask and drew a technical from Joey Crawford, his ninth tech of the season, just four away from a suspension in the lockout-shortened season (usually it’s 16). Meanwhile, the Lakers continued to look sloppy on offense at times, turning the ball over 12 times to help Boston cut a double-digit lead to just four.

0:00 The concern for the Lakers in the second quarter was the same as it was at Washington and Detroit in the second half: they stopped going inside. It was jump shot time, paint points evening out from the 14-4 first quarter, and with Rondo’s three at the buzzer, the lead was just two at 44-42.

9:24 Much to Mike Brown’s disappointment, L.A. started the second half like it finished the first, taking long jumpers (two missed Kobe threes) that Boston converted at the other end. This is particularly problematic for L.A. due to their size advantage inside, which can go unused, and then allow Boston to get out and run since the bigs are stuck underneath. Furthermore, Boston was really struggling to score once L.A.’s D was actually set. You get the drift.

6:00 Leave it to Paul Pierce and World Peace to get into some extra curricular activity whenever they match up. This time they simple refused to cede ground after a Pierce foul, no big deal, but Garnett came in for a non-peaceful extra shove, and the refs felt compelled to hand out matching T’s to Peace and Pierce. From that point on, however, it was all World Peace. He totaled 10 of his 13 points behind two three-pointers, two free throws and a breakaway slam he earned with a steal. He also forced a Pierce turnover directly after the technicals. As such, a 3-point Boston lead was flipped to a 62-57 lead.

0:00 Boston rallied back to reclaim a lead briefly, but five straight Kobe points (including his only field goal of the third, a wing three) and a Barnes put-back allowed a 72-70 Lakers lead. Gasol was particularly quiet in the quarter, totaling only two points and three boards, while Bynum did little more with three points and two boards.

8:15 Allen’s jumper off a nice ball screen got Boston back in front by two, though Bynum’s answer knotted things back up at 76. It would be an interesting final eight minutes, no doubt, with the Celtics working extremely hard to avoid starting a brutal 8-game road trip with a loss, and L.A. not wanting to have a team win the energy battle in a building they hadn’t lost in since Jan. 22.

5:45 Kobe had struggled with his jumper, but came up with two critical threes to put L.A. back on top after Allen’s transition triple gave Boston a three-point edge. Meanwhile, the Celtics could not miss on long jumpers, Bass and Garnett combining to hit eight of their 14 field goals in the second half, almost all facing the rim from above the free throw line extended.

2:45 Two plays went Boston’s way in crunch time, with World Peace getting hit with an off-ball foul fighting through a Rondo screen he would have sworn was moving, giving Rondo two bonus free throws. Bynum then missed a layup right at the rim, preserving Boston’s 91-89 lead, at least for the moment…

0:00 … The lead would actually grow to five on Allen’s third three, but it was all Lakers in a furious push to the finish line. The run would be 8-0, featuring a Kobe pull-up in the paint, then a Bynum tap in off Kobe’s lofted pass (he was pushed in the back as well, but no call in this case), another Kobe pull-up jumper that put L.A. back in front with 42 seconds left, and finally a Bynum drop in hook with 14 seconds left to make it 97-94. In the meantime, Boston missed its final six shots, with L.A. jumping out to contest each one, particularly on potential game-tying three-point attempts from both Pierce and Rondo in the final seconds. The result: a nine-game home winning streak to improve L.A. to 25-16 on the season. Next is a trip to Memphis and New Orleans; see you there.