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Baseline to Baseline recaps: Boston, Lakers send some messages

Apr 1, 2011, 7:54 AM EDT

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What you missed while watching the Hangover 2 trailer….

Celtics 107, Spurs 97: The Celtics ultimately will go as Rajon Rondo goes. He’s been injured and slumping. He’s back, and if he is the Celtics are back with him.

You know the Celtics are going to defend well (they still need a stabilizing presence in the paint, but that’s an issue for another day and a couple rounds in to the playoffs). The question is the offense, and the offense runs through Rondo.

The Spurs defended by the book — lay off Rondo and make him beat you with a jumper. Except early in the first quarter Rondo hit two 16-foot jumpers. He shot the ball confidently all night and by the end Rondo was 6-of-9 on jump shots, which that opened up driving lanes. He took over in the third quarter during a 17-3 run that put Boston up for the rest of the night.

There are still questions about the paint. Boston got Jermaine O’Neal back but lost Nenad Krstic to injury. Maybe for a long time. Shaq is going to be back someday. But the Celtics reminded everybody that whatever happens with their big men they are capable of beating anybody.

Then there’s the slumping Spurs. San Antonio got all its big stars back — Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan all played — and they still lost lost. The Spurs defense was spotty (at best, the Celtics shot 54.8 percent and if they could have knocked down their threes this might have been a blowout).

The Spurs fell in love with the three, trying to shoot over the top of the Celtics defense, but they were just 8-of-29 from beyond the arc. Ginobili was back but looked like maybe he should have sat out another game, finishing with just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting (1-of-6 from deep).

You expect the Spurs to snap out of it, but the five straight losses are creating problems. According to ESPN, the last time the Spurs lost 5 in a row Duncan was still at Wake Forest (1996-97 season). The Lakers are now just 2.5 games back. Gregg Popovich might like to rest his stars headed into the playoffs, but now he’s going to have to use them more to hold on to that top seed. And to make sure they get their rhythm back.

Lakers 110, Mavericks 82: One game between these two veteran teams does not send a message. But combine this with a game back on March 12 when the Lakers went into Dallas and beat the Mavericks, where Los Angeles was in control of from the second quarter on, and you start to get one. You don’t want to read too much into regular season games, but a pattern has emerged.

These two teams will likely meet in the second round of the NBA playoffs and the Lakers have sent the message that the series may not last long. And this was about sending a message — Pau Gasol was in during the fourth quarter with the Lakers up more than 20. The Lakers held Dallas to 36.1 percent shooting, and Dirk Nowitzki with 27 points was the only Dallas starter in double figures.

Dallas, blown out of the game, tried to send a message by getting physical with fouls late — Jason Terry pushing Steve Blake to the ground (the Lakers Matt Barnes jumped in to defend his teammate and will get a suspension for his actions), some kind-hard fouls from Dirk Nowitzki, a play where Pau Gasol ends up sprawled on the floor. Seven technical were handed out. (And a partially-nude woman who rushed the Mavs bench was thrown out, just to make it all a little more surreal.)It’s a message sort of like a hockey team that sends a goon out to start a fight in the third period down four goals — we can’t beat you but we’ve still got fight.

Maybe so. But the second round playoff series between these two doesn’t look like much of a fight right now. Dallas just cannot match up with the Lakers front line, or Kobe.

  1. thestudiokida - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    I respect Rajon Rondo’s game a lot, but I expect that he is going to struggle over the next couple years as his all-star teammates retire and/or get old. He has always been a quiet guy, leading by example at times and deferring to his more vocal teammates other times. The Perkins trade played a big part in his recent slump and you can see in his body language that he’s discouraged… so what will he do when Garnette and Pierce retire?

    I hope he maintains a high level of play, but more likely he’ll struggle for a few years before finding a team that suits him.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      What will they do? They’ll probably surround him with a bunch of mediocre talent and they’ll low 60 games a year….

      What do you think they’ll do? you really think they’re going to have the Big 3 retire and not bring in other scorers/big name players to replace them??

      • kast2l - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        For whatever reason it won’t let me directly respond to your post but when im referring to rose I mean in he developed his 3 point shot to become a more dynamic player, if rondo did the same it would not only help him a better overall player but his team because opponents would have to respect his jumper. The players you mentioned never had people play “rondo” type defense on them which further elaborates on what im saying. I do agree that boston is going to bring in talent around him but what that talent is remains to be seen.

    • kast2l - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      This is rondo’s what 4th year into the league and he is a great player but its unacceptable to be in the league this long and still not have developed a jump shot, especially when you have one of the best shooters in NBA history on your team. So when pierce, kg, and allen leave I don’t see him elevating his game like rose did but for his sake i hope he does…

      • andyhr17 - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        Rose has always been a scorer! That’s his game. That’s not Rondo’s game. John Stockton is a career 13 point a game player. Mark Jackson averaged 9 points a game. Are their games not elevated enough for you? Are you saying you have to score 25 points a game to be a great point guard?

  2. bceltics1010 - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    CELTICS FOR LIFE!!!

  3. kingkenley - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    I don’t know why anyone is worried about Boston or the Lakers they know what it takes to get there and get it done. they both had bad slumps this season but when the playoffs roll around its a different story

    • andyhr17 - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:32 PM

      Exactly. Any other team goes through a rough stretch and they’re just in a slump and will work out of it. When it’s the Lakers or Celtics everyone says it’s because they’re so old and that they aren’t going to have what it takes.

      • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:49 PM

        Celtics are old, KG was draggin that leg last night. Shaq isn’t the answer, if I was Ainge I let Perk walk at the end of the year, I don’t trade him at all, those contracts to the big 3 will kill the Celtics. Mamba will 3peat fellas.

    • philtration - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM

      Limping and wheezing into the playoffs is not good for any team but don’t tell that to the Celtic fans.
      For some reason that actually believe that Boston won the championship last year.

  4. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    some kind-hard fouls from Dirk Nowitzki,-

    Dirk is softer than cashmere, he was at mid-court during the fight with Terry

    Tell Mark Cuban his team is soft , Barnes reminded them last night and Artest will too, there was a message last night, to the Mavs and the rest of the League, we will protect our brother!!

    Phil, what the heck is Gasol doing in the game, you so crazy.

  5. andyhr17 - Apr 1, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    Try watching the game before blasting Garnett with made up criticism. He had 20 points and 9 rebounds last night. He looked good. Their contracts to the Big Three also do not hurt their future.

  6. andyhr17 - Apr 2, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    No one thinks that. They limped in last year and cruised to the finals and made it to game 7. That’s not someone that can be argued…..it’s something called a fact.

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