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Lakers ride out Boston’s emotional high to get win they want

Feb 11, 2011, 12:47 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant

In the end, the Boston fans got what they came to see — they witnessed history. Ray Allen has now made more 3-pointers than anyone else in NBA history.

But the Lakers left with what they wanted — a win over a quality opponent. It reinforces that their play of late has not been just smoke and mirrors, it was a reminder they still have the Larry O’Brien trophy until somebody pries it out of their cold, dead fingers.

Was it a statement win? No. Neither the Lakers nor the Celtics make statements in February.

But it was clear that winning the game meant more to the Lakers.

First, however, they had to ride out an emotional high from Boston. The Celtics were pushing to get Ray Allen his record on what seemed like the perfect night for the coronation of a great player. And he obliged.

With that record-setting energy, Boston had the early lead. That lead grew to 15 points early in the second quarter as Boston had great ball movement and some easy buckets in transition. The Celtics were knocking down their jumpers, and when they do that, they are hard to beat.

Through it, the Lakers stayed close because they made a point of using their size advantage — Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol each had 12 first-half points. Then the Lakers made a 10-0 run late in the first half as they started to defend and get dribble penetration.

The Lakers lost the last meeting because it was the Kobe Bryant Show — this time he took just three shots in the first half. Kobe was going to involve his teammates this time.

In the third quarter, the Lakers came out with a renewed defensive intensity — something they have shown more of recently — while the Celtics seemed to have deflated emotionally. The result was the Lakers forcing more contested jumpers, the Celtics missing now and ending up with just 15 third-quarter points. Now it was the Lakers on top and they were able to maintain the lead through the first part of the fourth quarter while Kobe and Gasol got an extended rest. The Lakers’ depth worked for them in this game the way the Celtics could not.

When Kobe came back in and went on a personal 6-0 run (using some nice weakside two-man action with Gasol). That run was followed by Bryant driving, drawing three defenders and dumping off to Gasol for the dunk.

Boston’s lack of depth because of injury caught up with them in this one, especially after backup point guard Nate Robinson left with a bruised knee. Boston missed having Shaquille O’Neal inside to bang with Bynum, too.

In the big picture of the NBA season this game matters little to the Celtics — they have already proven they are back and are contenders.

For the Lakers, it was a measuring stick to make sure the recent run of good play was not a mirage.

It wasn’t a statement. All this game said about June is that if these two teams meet again, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

  1. 1historian - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    See you this summer folks!

  2. loungefly74 - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    “But it was clear that winning the game meant more to the Lakers.”

    indeed. i feel a little better but still acknowledge we have a ways to go to beat the elite teams in a playoff series.

    • arbornicer - Feb 11, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      come on loungefly give our boys a little credit, they know what it’s all about so I wouldn’t even worry about the playoffs until at least the conference finals. i don’t think it even matters what spot they get.

      • loungefly74 - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        you’re right…you’re right…i just don’t want to come off too cocky right now. i love the Lakers. Last year’s title run was the most satisfying ever. i’m just trying to stay humble till we get there. I’m the only Laker fan at my job so i hear crap all the time and it’s very hard to stay quiet. i just say, “well, there is still a lot of the season to be played…we will see…” i said the same stuff last year…yeah, i just smiled at work when we won. it was the best feeling. the smile said it all. and i’m looking forward to repeating that sensation this year! (okay, that last sentence was a little arrogant but well deserved!)

  3. borderline1988 - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    These teams are as evenly matched as can be. The difference though is having a healthy Bynum….Celtics scored only 86 points.

    In the end, the Lakers are just a little better because a healthy Gasol, Bynum and Odom trump Garnett, Shaq, and Perkins. The backcourts are evenly matched….Kobe and Artest vs. Pierce and Allen. At the PG, as much as we would want to say that Rondo is much better than Fisher/Blake (and he is), it always seems that in the Finals, Fisher somehow steps up.

    And having Kobe can’t hurt either.
    The Lakers have one of the greatest frontcourts of all time, and also Kobe. Too much for the Celtics to handle.

  4. bceltics1010 - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    I don’t know if any of you watched the game lastnight, but Kobe is back to his ways, being a one man team. We need to get healthy and we’ll see you in the playoffs :)

  5. bertsirkin - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    The only thing the Lakers proved is that they STILL can’t win unless Kobe takes over – a team-effort has been futile, as demonstrated in the first half last night. And they also proved they can beat a injury-laden team with only 9 players!!

    That’s not proving much!

    • loungefly74 - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      a win is a win. as far as proving anything, the lakers have won the past 2 titles…nuff said. this year, yeah, the lakers need to tighten up the chemistry but as proven before, they do that during play-off time. i hope to see a rubber-match in the finals!

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 11, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      I hate to tell you Celtics fans this, what you need to worry about less is Kobe’s offense and more how the Lakers took the Celtics out of their offensive sets late. LA is one of the few teams that really disrupts the Celtics offense and that’s why they are a threat to you. Also, they have the size inside to match up.

      • passerby23 - Feb 11, 2011 at 12:32 PM

        I don’t read too much into this. With their usual depth, the Celtics don’t wear down in this game. All the starters were forced to play a lot of minutes. No Daniels, no Shaq, no Robinson (for most of the game), no J. O’Neil. The real questions will be: Can the Lakers beat the Spurs and can the Celtics beat the Heat? If they see each other in the finals with healthy squads, I like the Celtics.

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