I’ve found my next Halloween costume.
With Rajon Rondo wearing several different outfits on the Boston bench against the Los Angeles last night due to a balky hamstring, the Celtics, playing their 4th road game in only 5 days, appeared ripe for the picking. But, while this Los Angeles bunch has looked great recently and came out dressed to play the part of the ’80s Showtime Lakers, looks proved to be deceiving (a complete non-sequitur, but I would like to go on record as having predicted the change of shorts at halftime).
Tony Allen filled in as well as could be imagined in Rondo’s place at the point, racking up 42 minutes of play, 16 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, several awkward missed lay-ups, and only 4 turnovers–a low total considering my 89-year-old grandmother has a better handle than Tony. Contributing to Tony’s reasonable job at the point was the lack of pressure placed on the NBA’s worst dribbling guard by the the listless Lakers. I have no idea why L.A. didn’t press other than Phil Jackson went comatose when he realized he was getting outcoached by Doc Rivers or perhaps was busy thinking of some new material for his budding career in comedy. Not sure.
Paul Pierce put up 33 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals, which should come as no surprise considering he got his nickname in Los Angeles from none other than Shaquille O’Neal. The Truth grew up in Inglewood and always brings it when the Celtics head out to his old stomping grounds. KG showed skill, toughness and grit (attributes L.A. could have used), picking up 22 points, 12 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, and a couple stitches along the way, while the only sound heard from Ray Allen (19, 6, and 1) all night was the swoosh of nylon.
Kendrick Perkins rounded out the starting five’s night with a workman-like performance, shutting down a disinterested Andrew Bynum on the defensive end and supplying the Celtics with 7 points and 7 boards on the evening.
Kobe managed to sabotage any chance his team had by putting together a vintage ball hog night, notching fewer points than field goals attempted–very impressive considering he scored 22 (The Semi-Sex Offender went 6 of 25 from the field).
No one was particularly impressive for the Lakers in this match-up, well, except for Sasha Vujacic and Derek Fisher (above), who looked like 11-year-old boys from in their vintage ’80s outfits.
This was an outstanding victory for the Celtics, who won all 4 games on their west coast trip, especially noteworthy considering they played these games in only 5 nights and the most recent back-to-back included a tough victory at Utah before dismantling the Lakers at The Forum. Coming through without their floor general, Rajon Rondo, against one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the entire NBA was quite a statement. The Lakers looked lifeless against the intensity of the Celtics, and Lamar Odom’s tackle at the end of the game was classless. The fact that the refs called it a double technical on Odom and Ray Allen will never cease to amaze me, similar to the time referees decided that an opposing forward punching me in the mouth in youth basketball warranted a double foul and no further action.
Of note, after perusing the Boston schedule for the remainder of the season, with no major injuries I would now expect this team to win at least 65 games, with a real chance to win 70 or even break the all-time wins record of 72, held by the Chicago Bulls. As absurd as it sounds, in analyzing the road ahead, I could find only 4 remaining games that I would expect Boston to struggle to win (one is the match-up at Detroit next Saturday). This is truly a remarkable team, one that prevented the passing of a legend, at least for one more night. Red is surely puffin’ on a victory stogie somewhere.