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Celtics Squeak by Lakers in Rematch

Kendrick Perkins yells after he slams down a dunk over Derek Fisher and Ron Artest. The Celtics came away with a 87-86 win over their rival Los Angeles Lakers without Kobe Bryant.(AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

So there I was, sitting on my friend’s couch watching the Boston Celtics take on the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night when Rajon Rondo is called for a technical foul for taunting the other team. My friend goes “Wow, wouldn’t that be terrible if they lost by one point?” Well yeah it would be, and it’s happened before.

As the end of the fourth quarter loomed, the Celtics were up by one point and the Lakers had the ball. I couldn’t believe my friend had said that before because now they’re jinxed, but oh wait! Kobe Bryant isn’t playing this time and as time expired Los Angeles had to settle for Derek Fisher to take the shot and he missed the 20-foot jumper to end the game. The Celtics came out on top this time 87-86 after losing to the Lakers at home three weeks ago on Bryant game winner after being up by one point.

By dropping the Lakers by one point, it gave the team from Los Angeles its first loss of the season without Bryant. The victory was the second in a row for the Celtics who are on a four-game road trip following the All-Star weekend. Coming off a win in Sacramento, Boston was blessed to find out that Bryant would not be playing in Thursday’s game, and it was a good thing he wasn’t. The victory brought the Celtics to 34-18 on the year, while the Lakers fell to 42-14.

Ray Allen lead all scorers with 24 points (10-for-15) on the night. It was a good thing Celtics GM Danny Aigne didn’t trade Allen before Thursday’s trading deadline because Allen came out to prove how much he is worth and was one of the best players on the court. He hit his first 10-of-11 shots and overall went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. He even threw down a fast break dunk that made him look almost ten years younger on court.

“I just tried to be patient and settle in,” Allen said. “Just allow my body to kind of ease its way into the game and not force any action. And it just came my way.”

“Ray was huge tonight. I think we should threaten to trade him all the time and then pull him back,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He was phenomenal. That stretch in the third quarter won the game for us, in my opinion.”

Also helping out for the Celtics was Rondo with 14 points (6-for-17 shooting), 11 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Rondo was fun to watch out on the court because he was just all over the place, especially picking Pau Gasol’s pocket a number of times. Kendrick Perkins also added 13 points (5-of-7 shooting) with 14 rebounds on the night. Kevin Garnett chipped in 14 of his own while grabbing eight boards and Paul Pierce quietly did his thing with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

The bench struggled to get things going after doing so well the other night in Sacramento as they were only able to put together 12 points on the night. They were also shorthanded with the deal for Nate Robinson being made earlier in the day so they were without Eddie House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker on the bench. Marquis Daniels controlled the backup point guard position as he filled in for House.  

The Kobe-less Lakers were led by Gasol with 22 points (7-for-12 shooting), seven rebounds and three blocks. Also helping out were Ron Artest with 15 points (6-for-14 shooting), eight rebounds and three assists, and Andrew Bynum with 14 points (7-for-15 shooting) and nine boards.

Lamar Odom came off the bench for the Lakers and scored 13 points (5-of-9 shooting) while grabbing 14 rebounds, dishing out three assists and adding two blocks and two steals to his stat sheet.

After starting off the game with a hot shooting hand, the Lakers put the defense on the Celtics and limited them to only 11 points in the fourth quarter, just enough to get by. Boston led almost the entire game and even held an nine-point lead late in the second half, but with Los Angeles’ tough defense the Celtic’s lead quickly diminished.

“Our defense gave us an opportunity to win, but we couldn’t get it done,” coach Phil Jackson said after the Lakers’ fifth home loss. “We couldn’t find a way to score in the last few minutes. I think we had some pretty good shots. We just couldn’t convert.”

Although the Celtics should’ve had an easier night because of the absent Kobe Bryant, the Lakers still played a tough game and made it come down to the very last second. It was a good thing that Allen got in the face of Fisher on his last-second shot because Fisher has been known to make those buzzer-beaters in the past.

“Give Boston credit. They’re one of the better defensive teams,” Jackson said. “Fish broke off his cut. He was supposed to open the floor up, and we were supposed to have an option there. It didn’t work.”

Boston will play again Friday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland might be without their all-star in Brandon Roy as he is still out with a hamstring injury. If the Celtics can’t take advantage of the Blazers without their star player, then they have some work to do.

Game Notes

  • Rasheed Wallace picked up his 13th technical foul of the season after pushing Gasol in the third quarter, three more and he’s suspended for one full game.
  • Boston shot 44.0% for the game while Los Angeles shot 40.2%.
  • The Lakers went 16-for-25 from the free-throw line as the Celtics went 8-of-13.
  • While the Celtics are the second-worst rebounding team in the league and the Lakers are the second-best, the Celtics out-rebounded the Lakers for most the game but LA come out on top 50-to-43.
  • Boston led in asssists 21-14.
  • It was the first time the Celtics had defeated the Lakers since winning the Championship back in 2008. The Lakers won the previous three meetings.

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