Like it or not this is what Lakers vs. Celtics looks like in 2012. As Kevin Garnett would say, “Bar fight!”
Let’s be honest about this, both franchises have seen better days. Not that the Lake Show and C’s have fallen off the charts. Both teams will rock you to sleep in the playoffs if you sleep on them. Both are veteran teams with a battle-tested determination. However both are relegated to winning one way and one way only.
Tonight’s game in Boston was an ugly mess. Neither team got in much of a rhythm. There was more action on loose balls than there was in the open court. It almost felt like nobody wanted to win. At least nobody wearing green.
In the end this was a drunken brawl with the last man standing declared the winner. It was back and forth all night in a game that had a real playoff feel. After some hideous hoops the game got tense late and ultimately the Lake Show would prevail in an 88-87 overtime classic.
Credit where credit is due.
Pau Gasol has been getting a lot of comments from the complaint department lately. Tonight he was the best player on the court and might have been motivated by his All-Star snub. That and the Spaniard gets fired up when he sees that Celtic green. You already know what kind of night it’s going to be whenever these two rivals get together. Luckily the Laker bigs were up for the task.
Andrew Bynum didn’t have his best offensive night but his physical presence was very necessary. Drew battled to 16 tough points and 17 big boards. Young Bynum put that big frame to good use consuming position in the paint, grabbing clutch boards and scoring bruising buckets.
But it was Pau’s effort that ultimately sealed the deal in this back and forth thriller.
Gasol blocked Ray Allen’s put back attempt that gave the Lakers their best road win of the season. That is the play but Gasol made key plays all night. He was active on the glass grabbing 14 boards and was fierce on offense.
Pau’s 25 were second only to Kobe Bryant’s 27 for game honors.
Kobe, like all of Mike Brown’s men, was up for this game. We saw plenty of those Mamba moments as Kobe killed it with improbable jumpers, indefensible moves and salty attitude that comes with these Celtic clashes. Normally Bryant would have gotten man of the match going away with the work he did tonight. But it was Gasol’s guff that got this team going.
As exciting as the conclusion was, most of the second half was just painful to watch.
Neither team shot over 40%. The Boston Three Party was a combined 22 of 61. Paul Pierce and KG stunk it up the most. At least Pierce had the excuse of playing 48 minutes. Garnett’s game is all mid-range all of a sudden. He helped keep Lakers in contention going 6 of 23.
Of course I can’t say too much good about the Lake Show either. 1 of 15 from deep about sums it up. And we’re not talking contested shots. Doc Rivers had his defense dare the Lakers to shoot. Metta World Peace actually hit the backboard on the opposite side of the rim from where he shot on a wide open three late.
But like the man said, “Bar fight!”
Far from pretty, but a win is a win. And any type of win over Boston is beautiful. But we should be used to this by now. Tonight’s W makes it four straight for the Lakers in Beantown and five of the last six overall. Ever since that Finals series we shall not speak of this rivalry has been one-way traffic.
The big win is great. The reality is tomorrow there’s a game in NYC. We saw how the entire team got up for the contest tonight. Let’s hope that carries over. We know Kobe will be good to go. About the only thing that excites KB24 more than Boston is Madison Square Garden.