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Monday, June 9, 2008
Celtics take 2-0 lead to the land of frauds
The Celtics played one decent quarter, two exceptional quarters and one awful quarter but it all added up to a tighter-than-it-should-be 108-102 win over the Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Boston takes a 2-0 lead to Los Angeles, Games 3 and 4 are at the Staples Center as well as Game 5 if necessary.
Paul Pierce was the best player on the floor with an efficient 28 points, eight assists and four rebounds. The surprise star of the game was Leon Powe, who scored 21 points in 15 minutes. Kevin Garnett struggled with his shot but still posted 17 points and 14 rebounds while Ray Allen scored 17 points. Rajon Rondo had four points, six rebounds, 16 assists, two steals and only two turnovers.
Kendrick Perkins had seven points and three rebounds in 14 minutes and P.J. Brown contributed six points and three rebounds.
Up by 24 in the fourth quarter the Celts put it on cruise control and the Lakers almost came all the way back. LA cut it to two with under a minute left but Pierce clinched it with two clutch free throws and a block of Vladimir Radmanovic's 3-pointer. James Posey (8 points, 3 rebounds) corralled the rebound, was fouled and iced it with two more free throws.
The great defense and ball movement (31 assists on 36 buckets) disappeared for Boston as LA made 7 of 10 threes in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Celts 41-25.
Kobe Bryant scored 30 points (13 in the fourth) with eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. The Mamba was noticably frustrated with teammates and the officials for most of the game. He even drew a technical foul for arguing. Pau Gasol had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists but the Lakers stopped going to him in the second half which was a mistake since he was great in the first half.
Radmanovic had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Lamar Odom scored 10 points with eight boards while Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmer each had nine points. Sasha Vujacic added eight points.
LA led 22-20 but Boston stormed back with a 34-20 second quarter sparked by Powe's inspirational play.
The Lakers by nature are a finesse team and while they have size, they don't want to battle under the boards like a Cleveland or Detroit. LA is still a great team but when Boston decides to work it down low, they dominate. Powe was relentless on the boards, he made 9 of 13 free throws.
LA only took 10 free throws (and made all of them) while Boston was 27 of 38. It wasn't a factor since they held on but if the Celts had lost this one, missed free throws would have been one of the main culprits.
The Celts came out flying in the third quarter (including two thunderous slams from Powe), outscoring LA 29-19 as it looked like they had wrapped the game up. The 24-point lead was with seven minutes left in the game so that shows you how fast the Lakers can make up ground.
Other than free throws, assists were the difference for Boston. Behind Rondo's career-high tying game, the C's had 31 dimes to LA's 20.
Switching the format to 2-3-2 only for the Finals is pretty dumb but what can you do? The Celts only have to get one win in LA to give themselves two chances to finish the Lakers off in Boston. LA is unbeaten at the Staples Center (8-0) in the playoffs and we've still seen only glimpses of the great Lakers team that ran through the Western Conference playoffs. Game 3 is a must-win for LA (everyone's pick to win the Finals), if they lose that there will be no miracles even in Hollywood.