Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lakers beat Celtics on Christmas day

The Los Angeles Lakers gave us "love this Christmas day" by beating Boston, 92-83, and snap the Celtics 19-game winning streak.

I knew it! There's no way the Lakers would lose this game I even made a bet that I'd stop posting in this blog if the Celtics win the game. Thank you Phil. Thank you Kobe. Thank you Pau. Thank you Lakers for keeping this blog alive!

Phil was right in sticking to his starting lineup featuring "The Twin Towers" with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, even though it's not their most efficient unit, and they sometimes struggled on road games against smaller and quicker teams like Miami, Sacramento, Orlando, and Indiana. They almost lost in New York with a short-handed Knicks lineup. Jackson really prepared his players well for a game like this--against the best and hottest team in the league.

Bynum had 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and just 2 personal fouls in 36 minutes. Luke Walton had a solid game in 28 minutes scoring 8 points, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 rebounds. He was also 2-3 in the 3-point line. Now we know why Phil inserted him in the starting lineup replacing Vladimir Radmanovic, who seemed to have found his offensive game before the switch. Luke is a better defender and passer, having mastered the triangle offense in his 5 years of playing for the Lakers. He's also more consistent against championship caliber opponents.

Kobe Bryant had his usual game that made him MVP last season with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Pau Gasol scored 7 of his 20 points in the final three minutes. He also had 5 assists and blocked 3 shots, one of which was on Ray Allen's 3-point attempt that would have put the Celtics within two points with 1:16 minutes left in the game.

Derek Fisher helped limit Rajon Rondo to 6 points on 3-of-11 shooting although he also struggled offensively, shooting 2-of-10 in the field scoring 6 points but he made 7 assists. Lamar Odom came off the bench and contributed 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He also made two of his three 3-point attempts. Sasha Vujacic also contributed 10 points.

Kevin Garnett topscored for the Celtics with 22 points with 9 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14 points on 5-of-14 field goal shooting.

The Lakers played excellent defense in the fourth quarter, limiting the Celtics to 16 points. Boston missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the final period. They surely missed James Posey's clutch 3-point shooting.

Gasol, who, before this game, usually defers to Bryant in the last quarter, was more aggressive at both ends of the floor. He made all three of his shots and all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter for nine of his team's 21 points.

The Lakers' frontcourt players blocked nine of their opponents shots to Boston's three. The Lakers also had more trips to the free-throw line making 12-of-15 to 6-of-8 for the Celtics. They also made 8-of-20 3-point shots while Boston was only 5-of-22 for 22.7%. The team's swarming defense also forced 17 Celtics turnovers.

Who's the best defensive team in the league right now? They say it's the Boston Celtics. Well, maybe they were last year. But this season, the Lakers proved they can play defense to the team that beat them in the NBA Finals just six months ago.


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