Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Boston Celtics @ Los Angeles Lakers (Game 11 of 82)

After a forgettable blowout earlier in the season, the Celtics were looking for a similar result in the City of Angels, but Kobe Bryant had other plans.

After clawing tooth and nail in the 1st half, the Lakers erupted in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Boston 38-25, seemingly leaving the Celtics in the dust as the STAPLES center crowd went nuts, rallying loudly with their team.

But a tremendous 4th quarter by the Celtics silenced the crowd and nearly put them into a coma several times. Boston went on a 12-2 run and before long enough, there was an instant classic being decided, a chilling reminder of the NBA Finals that earned Boston the title of defending champions. Eddie House (20 points) and Rip Hamilton (25 points) aided Rondo in the comeback, but cooled down afterward.

As noted, Rajon Rondo commanded the valiant Celtics with 30 points and 9 assists, swerving wickedly into the paint around Dwight Howard (20 points/19 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (16 points/25 rebounds), who helped LA crush Boston on the boards, 63-36, earning LA second chance points that ultimately lost this game for Boston.

Kobe Bryant looked to turn in a modest showing with 18 points, but exploded in the 3rd quarter and never quit, surging as the top scorer for LA with 37 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Steve Nash made some gnarly passes but also hit threes and made layups for 22 points and 6 assists.

In highly dramatic fashion, Kobe Bryant tied the game at 99 all, forcing Boston to call a timeout, but to no avail as Boston responded with a scatterbrained play, culminating in a desperate shot by Kevin Garnett. With only 5.6 seconds to operate, Boston clearly overestimated the game clock.

Overtime called, and before long, Metta World Peace starting hitting shots after a cold showing in the 1st half for 15 points total. Antawn Jamison chipped in 7 from the bench, but the story here was false security. Several times, Boston appeared to have a comfortable lead, snapping to an early lead in the extra period, with Rondo drawing fouls in the paint, only for LA to slowly but surely ebb away at the deficit.

A few tough defensive stands by LA kept Boston from extending their lead in the final minute that completely belonged to the Lakers. Boston's fire had started to die out. As Paul Pierce bit on a pump fake, Kobe Bryant drove to the rim and twisted his way past the arm of a rotating Kevin Garnett, finally giving LA the lead with just under 10 seconds to spare in Overtime.

Boston was out of timeouts, due to using them up as cautionary measures to stave off LA's comeback and plot out a couple of successful plays, including a splendid shot by Kevin Garnett (12 points, 15 rebounds) that had momentarily held off last year's runner-up.

As KG came out to set a pick for Rondo, the gutsy 6'1 point guard zoomed into the lane, as those precious 10 seconds slowly ticked down to zero, crashing into the Lakers' defensive epicenter, drawing a mountainous amount of contact, somehow getting the ball up into the air, only for it to rattle off the rim and for the referees to neglect their whistles, shattering Rondo's hopes of lifting Boston back up over the 1 point deficit.

Furious, Rajon Rondo stormed off the court once the final score was officially approved. The Celtics fall 116-117 in the STAPLES Center. The intensity of this game surely affected Rondo's reaction, as did the no-call by the officials, but the Celtics need to move past this loss and remember they are still the defending champions, not the vengeful and bitter Lakers.

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