The greatest rivalry in all of basketball usually doesn't need any extra story lines to enhance the game but on a tragic night like yesterday there wasn't any way to ignore them. This was the Lakers first game without Dr.Buss and it clearly was an emotional one. The architect of many great Laker teams wasn't there to support his franchise any longer but the players seemed to play better in his honor. Dwight Howard put together one of his better games this season and game out the gates and burned the Celtics for 10 first quarter points. Earl Clark had the defensive game of his career and pulled down 16 rebounds while also contributing 14 points. The Celtics, coming off a tough loss in Denver, seemed to lack some energy at times as they were able to mount small comebacks but never really get over the hump. For the season the team is 0-7 when playing out west while losing by an average of about 15 points a game. All this while heading into the trade deadline and all the wild rumors, not the best start to the second half of the season.
A tribute to a Laker Legend.
For the Celtics it was all about the defense, or lack there of. The Lakers offense, which has been dysfunctional all season, had it's way with Boston and actually looked like it belonged to a professional team's. Of the nine players that played for the Lakers 7 reached double figures including 25 points off the bench between Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison. For the Celtics Jeff Green put together a 15 point 7 rebound effort which could be deceiving because of his -11 plus/minus. Jason Terry wasn't able to do much better as he shot 3-8 and only hit one of his three point attempts.
It wasn't just those two either, all the role players except for Courtney Lee struggled offensively and weren't able to leave their usual imprint on the game. Brandon Bass grabbed only 2 rebounds which is unacceptable considering he's one of the few healthy bigs and prides himself on being the "muscle man". Avery's jumpshot is another worrisome takeaway from the game, though he'd shown promise at times in getting his shot to a consistent state it took another step backwards with his 2-7 outing. If he can consistently hit his shots and bring that defensive energy it can do wonders for the team.
Dwight Howard was big all night grabbing 12 reboundsand scoring 24 points
Courtney Lee was a bright spot and he seems more and more comfortable with the team and his role. He's all but forgotten his rough start to the season and just continues to build on his defensive energy.
The team still has some games out West and needs to turn this skid around quick before they lose ground in the standings. They'd built some great momentum heading into the break and need to rekindle that spark so they can get as high a seed as possible.
The trade deadline is looming and with the past two games in the books the team didn't put together a convincing case to Danny not to blow it up. There have been rumors for Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and everything in between but hopefully this team has the opportunity to play the season out with only some slight adjustment to shore up the team's holes.
The Celtics don't take pride in moral victories but with the tragedy of Dr.Buss looming over the game it was clear it had an effect on everybody taking part. "You could see it in their eyes. I saw it in Kobe's eyes. He was really emotional coming out and he wanted this game bad." said Paul Pierce after dropping a game high 26 points."We've been in that situation with Red Auerbach, and so many other emotional games-teams are very dangerous, especially in their home building." Though the Lakers might have had an emotional advantage tonight the Celtics have no excuse Friday against the Suns and need to get back on track.
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