Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lakers vs. Celtics Post-game Comments

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Now that was what I call a real game.

The Lakers have ended Boston's win streak at 19 wins with a 92-83 victory. This victory was also significant because it was Phil Jackson's 1000th victory, making him the fastest coach to reach that mark in NBA history.

The game was a lot closer than the score may indicate. It wasn't til the final minutes that the Lakers pulled away. The lead was passed numerous times back and forth up until the end of the game. The Lakers can take this victory and use it as a confidence booster for future match-ups with the Celtics; LA needed this win to prove to themselves that they could compete at the same level.

Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza came through for LA at the right times, and they're going to need to do the same come June. Ariza had two notable hustle plays, where he ran the length of the court to save a ball going out of bounds. Both plays led to buckets for the Lakers and fan pandamonium. Pau, who only shot 3-9 in the first half, found the zone in the 4th quarter. He consistently attacked the rim and forced Garnett to work on the defensive end.

Boston on the other hand shouldn't be too worried. A lot of iffy calls went against them, and there's no doubt that the home crowd definitely helped LA pull out the W. However, what they should be worried about his how well their second line can hold up against opponents. During a critical stretch of the fourth quarter, the second line failed to get the ball to Ray Allen, who had been shooting very well for the game. Instead, Eddie House was running around picks jacking up 25ft jumpers. Doc Rivers is going to have to make sure that his backups remember to defer to the big guns when apppropriate.

Another key factor in this game was free throws, or in Boston's case, the lack of free throws. Paul Pierce and Garnett were satisfied settling for long jumpers. While they did manage to hit many of them, they failed to draw fouls and play their physical game with Laker's bigs. Normally getting to the line more 25 times a game, they only shot eight free throws tonight. In comparison, the Lakers shot 15.

In no way did this game disappoint. Congrats to the Lakers and Phil Jax for his milestone victory. Luckily these two giants will meet once more in the regular season.

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