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Celtics earn sixth straight win by taking apart the Lakers

Feb 7, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

The Celtics and Lakers have the most storied rivalry in the history of the NBA. No matter what’s happening with each team individually throughout the course of a given season, whenever the two teams meet, there’s always a special kind of buzz and energy that surrounds those contests.

That wasn’t the case in Boston on Thursday, however, because only one of the two teams bothered to show up.

While the Lakers lacked energy, the Celtics were exploding with it. Behind a huge third quarter run and a balanced team effort, Boston put the wood to L.A. and cruised to a 116-95 win, the team’s sixth straight after losing Rajon Rondo for the season with a torn ACL injury.

The Lakers were playing without Pau Gasol, who suffered a tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot near the end of the team’s win over the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday. It was announced shortly before tip-off that Gasol will miss a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

With Gasol out indefinitely, the pressure has been mounting on the enormous shoulders of Dwight Howard to return to the lineup, after missing his team’s last three games due to re-aggravating the torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash may have added to that a bit, each saying over the last couple of days that Howard needs to try to play through the pain, especially since L.A. will be without Gasol for so long, and with the urgency to win games increasing with each passing day.

Howard played 28 minutes and finished with nine points and nine rebounds, but turned the ball over four times while going just 1-6 from the free throw line. He was unable to come close to matching the intensity and energy Gasol brought to the Lakers during the team’s three-game win streak (which took place during Howard’s three-game absence), and fouled out while Mike D’Antoni somewhat inexplicably had him still in the game for the first 6:53 of the fourth quarter, while the Celtics pushed their lead to as many as 32 points.

Boston had control of this one from the start, but after trailing by as many as 16 in the first half, the Lakers were hanging around within 10 or 11 points midway through the third. That’s when the Celtics put on a devastating 23-8 run over the period’s final 4:52 — one that left them with a 95-69 lead, and put the game in the win column much earlier than expected.

Paul Pierce led his team with 24 points, and Kevin Garnett finished with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in just 23 minutes of action. Garnett surpassed the 25,000 career-point milestone in this one, after connecting on a spinning, fadeaway jumper over Earl Clark early in the second quarter.

The Celtics remain firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. On the Lakers side, it’s easy to want to throw (more) dirt on the grave the team is seemingly unable to stop digging for itself. But the reality is that they remain just three and a half games out of the eighth and final playoff spot out West, and after winning six of seven before this most recent humiliating loss, the team isn’t likely to pack in the season just yet.

L.A. will need Howard to continue to recover and gain more confidence playing through the pain of his shoulder injury, as well as bring some intensity to his performances that his teammates can feed off of. Gasol was able to provide that at times, and while the Lakers are still Bryant’s team, the one who the franchise is looking to build its future around needs to start acting like the cornerstone he can be for L.A. to have any shot at redemption this season.

  1. cornbreadbbqred - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Kobe, use those injured knees and try to guard Paul Pierce! Did you really expect after going fresh laundry with family business again to the press, that D12 would show up and do anything more than to just save face and mail it in again? After pissing on a rock, can you rightfully expect to get any thing more than piss from a rock? Duh!

  2. doublezero74 - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Kobe, “the one who the franchise is looking to build its future around”? Or did I read that wrong? FYI I’m a celtic through and through. That being said, Kobe is a b-ball master and his game is without doubt but I’m not looking to build anything around Kobe these days

    • eventhorizon04 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      And neither would Kobe.

      He was asked by a fan what he saw himself doing 5 years from now, and he said (via Twitter) that he’d like to be managing the Kobe brand and perhaps doing some commentating.

      Kobe doesn’t expect or want to be in the NBA in a few years, so I’d hope the Lakers aren’t building their future around him since he’s begun thinking about a life after basketball.

  3. thekingdave - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    Yeah, whenever Eric Montross and Dino Radja were lining up against Vlade Divac and Cedric Ceballos there was all sorts of tension…

  4. paulhargis53 - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    The Lakers f-ing stink! Turn out the lights……

    • badintent - Feb 9, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      No more lights , no more hype, no more dissing Clippers ! How funny is that ?

      Caoch Mike Brown paid me to write this, with Buss $$$

  5. jhuck92 - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    The Celtics needed this 6-game streak (who doesn’t), but it’s 6-0 immediately after losing Rondo. Is this just an easy schedule, or are they actually better off without Rondo? This was on SportsCenter today, and I would imagine this makes Danny Ainge more open to trade offers.

    • eventhorizon04 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      I think it’s a mix.

      Here are the Celtics’ opponents:
      Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings*, Orlando Magic*, LA Clippers, Toronto Raptors*, LA Lakers*

      * = Team with under 50% win percentage
      ** = Team with under 40% win percentage

      The Celtics during this stretch haven’t been playing “bad” teams. They’ve mostly played REALLY bad teams.

      3 out of 6 wins came against sub-40% teams).
      Another win came against a Lakers’ team whose problems are well-documented (and was missing Pau Gasol).
      Another win came against the Clippers, who are a good team but without Chris Paul, have gone 3-6 – so the Chris Paul-less Clippers are a sub-40% win-percentage team as well.

      The only “quality” win came against the Heat, who for the past couple of years frankly haven’t been a very good regular-season team when it comes to facing difficult opponents.

      So the “easy” schedule helps. I also think most Boston fans would completely agree that Rondo’s effort level in the regular season has always been inconsistent – he’d show up for nationally televised games (particularly against the Heat) – and then a week later post a 8 points – 5 rebounds – 10 assists game against the Bobcats. So it doesn’t surprise me that the Celtics have done okay without “regular-season” Rondo.

      Where the Celtics will miss Rondo is in the playoffs.

      • eventhorizon04 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:20 AM


        Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings**, Orlando Magic**, LA Clippers, Toronto Raptors**, LA Lakers*

        * = Team with under 50% win percentage
        ** = Team with under 40% win percentage

      • scalfor3 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        You can only beat who lines up across from you.

      • Kansachusetts - Feb 9, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        You’re leaving out the Knicks, which they beat while Rondo was suspended. So another way to look at it is that without Rondo they beat the Knicks, Heat, Clippers, and Lakers.

        They might fade, but that’s nothing to sneeze at.

  6. monkeyhateclean - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    When the Lakers lose, every NBA fan who doesn’t live in LA wins.

    That said, watching the Celtics being forced to blow up, and send their franchise back to the dark ages, where no passable NBA player is willing to play in front of Boston, and their few productive players are sent to new teams might make this year’s playoffs watchable.

    Not that it will matter, since the Heat will win in 4. Book it, done.

    There. I just humiliated fans of the Lakers, Celts, and Heat. Give me 2000 thumbs down at LEAST, or y’all don’t have true fans on this site.

    • badintent - Feb 9, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      Thanks for not dissing My Knicks, Melo had enough Honey Nutt for a lifetime.Looks like your 2000 thumbs down program is not working…………………………… all !! LOL

  7. jjordannba - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    The Celtics are playing inspired basketball, and you can see the defensive and the offense has picked up during this stretch. The bench is playing ridiculously right now. They’ll be a scary team to face in he playoffs, count on it.

  8. dko83 - Feb 8, 2013 at 4:36 AM

    Kobe is just a bad teammate now. Easy to see. I’m sure that wasn’t always the case, but please, run the future of that franchise out of town faster, if ya could.. Need evidence? You got DISMANTLED tonight.

  9. infectorman - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Congrats KG!

  10. cowpiesnotcowboys - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    The Lakers should change their scoreboard symbol from “LAL” to “LOL”. This team is a joke. Dwight would be smart to walk in free agency — no way he succeeds on this team with this coach.

  11. paulhargis53 - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Scalfor: Don’t mind event. He and his fellow heat fans are just scared of having to face the Celtics. It’s the only explanation. They are crawling all over every Celtics posting.

    Fear and jealousy are ugly traits.

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