Friday, February 21, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 101, Celtics 92
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni unwittingly paraphrased an infamous quote from former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino before the current down-on-their-luck versions of the Lakers and Celtics tipped off Friday.
"I would hope right now, we need a win," D'Antoni said when asked how much he thinks about the long-standing rivalry between the two teams. "I don't care who walks into the arena."
Just like Pitino said Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were "not walking through that door," a championship version of the Celtics didn't come into Staples Center on Friday, nor were these Celtics being hosted by a title-contending group of Lakers, either.
Staples Center was the site of the last great moment in the rivalry's history -- Game 7 of the 2010 Finals -- but so much has changed since then that only four players combined from both rosters (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar and Rajon Rondo) were on either team that night.
"A lot of us in the locker room have never been a part of those games, but I think everybody gets it and I think everybody at different times throughout their lives have watched it in awe," first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
There wasn't a championship anywhere within reach for the two teams that came into the night a combined 35 games under .500, but there were some awe-inspiring moments from a couple of new Lakers in Kent Bazemore (15 points, four assists, three rebounds) and MarShon Brooks (14 points on 7-for-11 shooting), who combined to score 18 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Lakers to a 101-92 win, their first at home in nine games and a 2-0 season sweep of the Celtics.
How it happened: The Celtics jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half before L.A. cut it to two heading into the third quarter. Boston pushed its cushion back up to as many as 13 in the third, but L.A. came out like gangbusters in the fourth quarter, erasing the deficit and pushing its own lead all the way up to double digits at 10 points en route to the runaway win.
What it means: L.A. stopped the bleedingl, and maybe with Gasol back healthy and the returns of Nick Young and Xavier Henry potentially right around the corner, these final 27 games of the season won't be quite as ugly as the first 55.
Hits: Other than Brooks' and Bazemore's impressive debuts, L.A. was helped by its big men. Gasol had 16 points and seven rebounds, Chris Kaman had 16 points and eight boards and Jordan Hill had 10 and 12.
Misses: Wesley Johnson's hot month of February was subdued with an 0-for-4 shooting night with four fouls.
Stat of the game: 8-for-24. That's what Boston shot in the fourth quarter as L.A. held the Celtics to 18 points on 33.3 percent shooting.
Up next: L.A. hosts the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday before heading off on a two-game back-to-back on the road in Indianapolis and Memphis, Tenn.