The Boston Celtics demolished the Los Angles Lakers last night 116-95 last night. For a whole half, almost, we got to experience Gino Time and we also saw Fab Melo play a whole five minutes!
Last night was the best Celtics game in a while and that might be an understatement. They showed the NBA that they aren’t willing to just lay down and accept defeat because Rajon Rondo is out for the season. Instead, they’ve adapted a new style of play that should be the way that things are when Rondo returns.
Last night was a great game for the C’s, but the defining moment for them was in the third quarter. The Celtics were up 44-58 at the half, and then that deficit was cut to 11. They were only up 72-61 and the Lakers were looking to go on a run. That was halted by an and-1 from Paul Pierce off of a Brandon Bass pick and roll where he took the ball to the rim. That sparked a 14-3 run that eventually turned into a 23-8 run. The Celtics finished the quarter with 37 points and Paul Pierce had 12 points by the end of the quarter.
The reason why the Celtics took such an impressive jump on the Lakers was because of their defense combined with the Lakers offensive stagnation. The Lakers made 9-20 shots in the quarter and scored 25 points, but they only had one assist on their nine makes according to the gamebook provided by NBA.com. That’s unacceptable, but it was forced because of the Celtics stifling defense. They were there at the point of the ball for every pass and doubled down low to take away easy passes from Bryant.
Here’s just one example of how the Celtics defense took away an option for the Lakers. Take a look at the video below:
Steve Nash brings the ball down to initiate a set. He gives it to Earl Clark on one wing and then looks around a Dwight Howard screen to another. Howard wants to give the ball back to Nash but Avery Bradley is pressuring him off of the ball and Howard is unable to make the pass. Then, Howard makes the absolute wrong decision an tries to drive with the ball into the paint. Paul Pierce comes over and takes a charge to get the Celtics the ball back.
That was at the beginning of the quarter before the Celtics run was initiated. Its the perfect microcosm for the quarter of the Lakers, though. There were just a lot of bad decisions made that led to the Celtics getting the ball back. They only had three turnovers, but a lot of the shots that they were taking were bad looks and that’s just as bad as a turnover. Take a look at the shots below:
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of high percentage shots here in these examples as well. We’ve got a Kobe fadeaway with his teammates open on the weakside, a Metta World Peace one dribble set three with Steve Nash wide open on the other wing, and a Metta World Peace drive that was initially missed but put back in the end. A lot of those shots could’ve been made into better ones with some unselfishness from the Lakers. They only had 16 assists total to 12 turnovers throughout the game. That’s unacceptable.
The Celtics also killed the Lakers on the glass in this quarter. Out of the 11 misses they had, the Celtics rebounded nine of them. The Lakers rebounded four of the five Celtics misses, but when you turn the ball over and miss more shots than you’re making you won’t be able to keep up. Especially with a team that’s looking to push the ball down your throat.
The Celtics didn’t beat the Lakers by powering the ball inside. Instead, they ran all over them and forced them into tough looks. The Lakers bit on the Celtics bait and that’s why we’ll hear the Dwight Howard trade talk start up again today.