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Andrew Bynum is having some kind of year for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The big seven footer made a hook shot with just over 15 seconds remaining in regulation to give L.A. a three-point lead, and the Boston Celtics’ inability to get a good look for the tie resulted in a 97-94 loss on Sunday afternoon.
The Celtics had control of the game with a small 5-point lead late, but the Lakers rallied from 94-89 deficit with 2:41 remaining by scoring eight straight points. A 14-foot jump shot from Bryant gave the Lakers the lead with 0:41 left. A missed shot on a drive to the basket by Allen gave the Lakers back the ball, and Bynum’s hook shot put the C’s away.
The third quarter may have been the beginning of the momentum shift for the Lakers, even though the teams exchanged 28 points, because the Lakers went to the free throw line 14 times to the Celtics’ zero attempts. Boston went 10-for-12 from the line on an afternoon in which L.A. went 17-26.
Early on it seemed unlikely things would even get that close though, as the Lakers established an early 24-14 lead at the close of the first quarter and extended the lead to as many as 15 during the second. It was the second unit on the court for Los Angeles that was overpowering Boston, especially with Bynum occupying the boards, finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
He wasn’t the lone contributor to the victory though, as Kobe Bryant had a game-high 26 points, and Metta World Peace went 3-for-5 shooting three-pointers as a part of his 14 points. It seemed like Los Angeles was simply going to outwork Boston all around the ball until the Celtics got things going in the second quarter to begin their comeback.
Boston outscored L.A. 28-20 in the second quarter, turning a 15-point deficit at one point into as much as a five-point lead. They found more defensive intensity and got good play from their starters offensively. Rajon Rondo led the team with 24 points and 10 assists, and Paul Pierce added 13 of his own despite only shooting 4-for-14 from the floor. Kevin Garnett shot an impressive 7-for-11 from the court, finishing with 14 of his own.
Ray Allen couldn’t get open in the final seconds of the game for a potentially game-tying shot, but he did have 17 points and hit three of the Celtics six three-point shots. Brandon Bass also scored 15, putting all five starters in double figures.
A loss is a loss, and this loss certainly showed some of the size issues on the Celtics, as Bynum went to work against them down low. It should be interesting to see how this game will impact the way in which the Celtics look at the upcoming trade deadline. Either way, Monday night Boston will face the other L.A. team, as the Clippers await.