If you’re going to break a losing streak, why not do it in your most heated rival’s house? Especially when that heated rival is going through the same, painful, losing season?
Going into tonight’s contest, the Lakers and Boston Celtics had almost identical records: 14-25 for the purple and gold, 14-26 for the green and white. With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce shipped to the Nets, and Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash physically unable to play, and Rajon Rondo coming in after a long absence due to injury, this game didn’t have the same gravitas that it would have in years past.
With that being said, this game was still a competitive one with the Lakers getting the best of the Boston, 107-104.
Ryan Kelly – Ever since his playing time became increasingly regular, we’ve been waiting for Kelly to have that game; the game that showed he was more than a rookie taking up a spot on the roster. In his previous nine games before tonight, he scored regularly, but hardly made a dent into the team’s offense. Six points here, nine points there, but nothing game changing. With the loss of Shawne Williams from the rotation, however, Mike D’Antoni has looked to Kelly to bring up his game. Williams wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but his occasional threes never hurt, and that’s a range Kelly is not intimidated by. He finished with the best game of his NBA career thus far – 20 points on 6-12 from the field, 2-4 from three, three rebounds, an assist and one block. Best part of the Ryan Kelly show tonight? Two clutch free throws at the end of the game that iced the win.
Pau Gasol – Good leaders lead from the front, not dictate from the back, and Gasol made a good example of it tonight. By halftime, he was two rebounds away from a double-double already, and he chipped in a solid 24 points on 9-15 from the field, 13 rebounds, six assists, and zero turnovers. The Lakers had 20 turnovers in the game and Gasol didn’t contribute a single one of his own. This is a stat line that he must produce with regularity if the Lakers have any hope of surviving this season with the least bit of pride. With Kobe Bryant on the sidelines, this is HIS team (trade rumors and attempts aside of course). If he is not the type of leader who speaks up, then he must lead with his performance, which is what he did tonight.
Jodie Meeks – The Lakers’ most consistent scorer, Meeks has been ol’ reliable in this uncertain (okay, it’s pretty certain) Lakers’ season. 17 points on 6-13, 2-4 from beyond the arc, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. He finished with a +19, the highest in the +/- column.
Ball Movement – The Lakers handed out 27 assists on 37 made field goals, and Kendall Marshall was responsible for 14 of them. In his last four games, he handed out 10,16,13 and 14 dimes. In a loss to Denver a week ago, he doled out 17 assists. To think that after the team’s three point guards went down, shooting guard, Xavier Henry was charged with this position, and it’s a little mindboggling to think he could produce the type of game that Marshall does, a true point guard. By the way, Marshall also scored 19 points on 7-11 from the field, 4-5 from downtown.
Score Score Score – The Lakers were just 1-5 from downtown during the entire first half, but they finished 12-20 for the night compared to Boston’s 7-23. They also got to the free throw line 28 times and converted 21, while only allowing the Celtics 11 attempts from the charity stripe. They ended the game on an 11-0 run and shot 50% for the game overall.
Turnovers – 20. It’s hard to believe the Lakers managed to win a game after such a sloppy performance. Those 20 mistakes cost them 30 Celtics points, while Boston’s eight turnovers produced just six Lakers’ points. This turnover issue has been the team’s Achilles heel (in addition to many others), because it’s compounding into other issues. Turnovers turn into fast breaks, which forces the Lakers’ transition defense (another Achilles heel) into effect. It’s a slippery slope when you’re giving the ball away to the other team constantly. The Lakers are fortunate to have gotten out of this game with a win
Points in the Paint – 54-38, Celtics. The Lakers need to get better defending the paint. Boston scored half of their points inside and the Lakers’ interior defense continues to be porous.
It’s hard to make a list of woes after a victory, especially when it came after overcoming a 13-point deficit. With Nick Young serving his one-game suspension for throwing a punch at the Suns’ Alex Len, having yet another player unavailable didn’t make the Lakers’ chances of winning any better, regardless of the opponent’s record. But they did win, and until Sunday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, let’s just enjoy this feeling while it lasts.